If you want to launch a new website, you can use a pre-made framework with templates, or a custom-made website. Either option has its pros and cons, so if you have not decided which one to choose, you can read our article. We will look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of either option. Depending on the website type you would like, you can choose the one that suits your needs best.

In this article, we will look at self-hosted template-based websites. We will not look at cloud website builders that offer templates as your options there are limited. If you are interested to find out whether you should use a cloud site builder or a self-hosted website nonetheless, you can check our article on the topic: https://www.icdsoft.com/blog/web-hosting-vs-site-builders/

Using a template

In this case, you will use a pre-made template with some of the design and the functionalities already built-in. Self-hosted online site builders have developed quite a lot in the last decade, making it possible for people with little or no experience to build a website with ease. WordPress and Joomla are two of the most popular content management systems that allow you to simply set a template and start adding content. There is also an option for you or a web developer to customize a given template significantly to make it unique, but this does not change the fact that you will be using a ready platform with built-in functionalities and a template for it, which is different from a custom-made website.

Advantages

  • Less expensive. There are lots of free templates out there, but even if you decide to purchase a premium one and even hire a developer to customize it, you will pay much less compared to the money you will have to spend for a website that will be created from scratch.
  • Faster to build. It doesn’t take much time to launch a website if you use a template. You should only add your content, but some templates come with demo content, so you may only have to replace some text. If you don’t need to add much content to the site, you can build it within a few hours.
  • Easier to build. Not only can you build a website faster, but you can build it much easier. Any page or form you need can usually be added with a couple of clicks and you will have to do only minor customizations. If you use a template, you can easily build almost any type of website even if you have little or no experience.
  • Industry-specific templates are available. If you are a real estate agent, an MD, a yoga instructor, or if you have a hotel or a restaurant, you can use a free or premium template that will have everything you need. Launching such a website is easier than ever as you can simply choose the template you need and add your content. Such templates are usually bundled with plugins that provide industry-specific functionalities – schedule, takeout order module, real estate listings, etc. This will allow you to focus on your business and the site content right from the start.
  • Lots of plugins are available. Speaking of plugins, you will find lots and lots of them, especially for popular content management systems such as WordPress. This way, you can easily add new functionality to your site with a few clicks. If you do not like a plugin for some reason, you can simply check out another one. In the general case, there will be no need to customize a plugin apart from selecting specific built-in options, as many plugins usually cover most, if not all use cases.

Disadvantages

Non-responsive templates are almost unusable on mobile devices.
  • Some are not mobile-friendly. Templates are pre-made, and many of them are rarely updated especially free ones. As developers usually strive to create a larger number of templates, they may not spend too much time adapting every one of them for mobile devices. A lot of Internet traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices, so if your site does not look well on them, it may be at a disadvantage compared to the websites of your competitors.
  • Too many add-ons may slow down the website. Templates for content management systems and e-commerce platforms have a limited number of built-in functionalities. Anything else can be added by installing addons, but the more addons you add, the more code that needs to be loaded/executed every time somebody browses your website. This can ultimately slow down your site, sometimes significantly.
  • Not SEO-friendly. Templates provide the basics you need to build the website, but they do not include all the small perks that can help your website to rank better in search engines. Things like proper keywords, headings, image names, metatags, etc., are website-specific, so you will have to take care of them on your own. The issue here is that you may have to edit content and code you are not familiar with, or you will have to use the services of a SEO specialist. Alternatively, if you use WordPress, you can also use a plugin like Yoast SEO to improve the ranking of your site.
  • Limited design changes. Although you will have full access to the framework and template files, you or your web developer may not be able to change everything that you want. Some templates may have certain limitations in terms of what can be edited, others may have their files encoded, especially if they are premium ones that work with a license code. It is even possible that editing the code of a template may be in breach of its terms of service.
  • Limited support. It may be difficult to get support for a particular theme, especially if it is a free one or if you have customized it in a way that you were not intended to. Many themes are provided on “as is” basis, so if you have a question or you encounter a problem, you will be on your own, or you will have to search for a solution on online discussion boards. Of course, this may not be the case if a web developer customized the theme as they may be able to help you with questions about the template.

Using a custom-made website

This option refers to a website built from scratch, even if some framework like Symphony or a runtime environment like Node.js is used. The code for the entire website should be written by a developer and the only ready code comes as snippets that you can add here and there. You will not have an entire template that looks like a pre-made website, waiting only for your text and images. Custom-made websites require more skills to be built and maintained and are usually used for large and/or important projects. You will find out why below.

Advantages

  • Scalable. As your business grows, so will your website. With a custom-made site, it is easy to add new content or new functions. You can focus on your business and not on tackling technical issues related to implementing some new function. A custom site can grow as much as needed.
  • Adaptable. You can easily change or replace the content of a custom-made website. You can also update its front-end or back-end to match the latest trends, improve the user experience, or to facilitate site management. This is something quite hard to achieve if you use a third-party framework with a template developed by another company.
  • Secure. A custom site will not have the vulnerabilities that a widely used template-based platform may have. Unlike templates, custom sites usually do not reuse large chunks of code that may have a security hole. Even if something comes up, the site software can be patched quickly. In comparison, if you use a template and a security hole is discovered, you will have to wait for the template and/or the framework developers to fix it. This is not a likely scenario anyway – hackers usually focus on widely used platforms as finding a vulnerability will grant them access to a large number of sites. It is very unlikely that they will spend time and resources to try to penetrate your custom site.
  • Unique. Your website will look like no other. It can have a unique design and unique functionality. Any element can be custom-made, so you can be sure that your site will stand out from the sites of your competitors. This is valid not only about the design but also about the modules that perform different functions. If you have a search bar on a real estate website, for example, you can have all the search options that you want, not the ones that the creator of some third-party plugin has decided to add for everybody using that plugin.
  • It matches your exact needs. The site will be built exactly the way you need it and want it from the very beginning. You don’t have to customize elements that somebody else created, potentially affecting some function or the design. You don’t have to make a compromise with the content simply because it doesn’t fit in some ready element either. This way, you can have all the content you want and you can display that content in the way you want.
  • Cross-platform compatible. Custom-made websites are usually built to work equally well across different platforms. This includes different web browsers, screen resolutions, devices, etc. This way, you can be sure that you will be able to reach as many people as possible. This is usually not the case with templates as designers often do not have time or resources to adapt all elements to look good on different devices.
  • Thoroughly tested. Custom sites are usually thoroughly tested to make sure that the final product meets your requirements. This includes links, forms, spelling, user experience, compatibility with third-party software, etc. Naturally, templates are rarely tested so extensively, so it is not uncommon to encounter bugs or incompatibility with different add-ons.

Disadvantages

  • Мore expensive. Unless you are a web developer, hiring a person or a company to build the site will cost you a good amount of money. They will be focused only on your project and if they do not customize a template, but write the code from scratch, you will have to pay for the extra hours and the qualified work. Keep in mind that many people can build a decent site using some template, but not so many can build a good site from scratch. The price is higher as you will get a higher value once the site is ready compared to a template-based site.
  • Takes more time to build. No surprise here as it takes longer to write all the code that is otherwise a part of a ready template. While a template-based site may take between a few hours and a few days to build depending on the content and the complexity, it may take between a few weeks and a few months to create a good website from scratch.
  • Limited support. You may notice that we have listed the limited support for both template-based and custom websites. You can receive superb support from your web designer. The issue here is that it may be difficult to make changes if they are not available, or you may have to pay extra for some (or all) support requests. Since the site is custom-built, it is unlikely that you will find solutions online. You will not have to worry about such things only if you are a developer and you have built the site yourself.

So, which one should you choose?

When it comes to choosing a template-based website or a custom-made one, you should weigh the pros and cons of either one. Consider what you find important as either option may be suitable and we cannot say that one is definitely better than the other.

If you don’t want to spend much time or money, and if you don’t need too much customization, you can go for a template site. This option is suitable if you want to build a personal website, or if you are self-employed, maybe even if you have a small company. You will have to spend some time customizing some parts of the template and to do some search engine optimization, but in the end, you can build a professional site quickly and easily. If you encounter any issue, it is very likely that you will find a solution on some discussion board.

If you run a medium or large business, then you should choose a custom-made website. You will have a unique site that can give you an advantage over your competitors. It will be fully adapted to your specific needs and it will be designed to grow without any hassle as your business grows. You may have to wait longer or pay more for such a website, but it will be worth it.

Template vs. custom-made site with ICDSoft

If you have a hosting plan with us, you can host any type of website that will work on a Linux server.

If you want to use a template, you will have several different options. We offer a feature-rich Website builder that comes with lots of generic and industry-specific templates. You can use a platform like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal as well and choose between hundreds, even thousands of templates. If you want to use a more advanced platform, you can have a site built with the Django framework or Node.js, as you will find templates for both.

If you prefer a custom-made website, you or your web developer can easily upload it using our tools. Unlike other hosting providers that charge separately for SSH access, we offer this feature as a part of our hosting plans by default. We also offer Git and GitList, so you or your developer can manage and update your project with ease. Should you have any questions about the deployment of your custom site, you can contact our outstanding tech support team for assistance.

No matter if you use a template-based website or a custom-made one, you can host it on our servers and manage it with ease.

Author

A web hosting provider since 2001. We host over 58,000 websites for customers in over 140 countries around the globe.

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