Designer vs Template Websites
One of the most important decisions you can make in regards to a website, is whether to build a pre-made website (template site) or a designer website. In the following article I will attempt to explain the differences between designer and template websites, and provide you with the knowledge to decide what kind of website is right for you.
When we talk about a template website vs a designer website, we are often talking about the interface design, or the visual look and feel of the website. The "back end" or content management system might be the same for either of these approaches. The interface or design is the layout of content and visual appearance of your site. Many would argue simply that websites need to be beautiful but there is a lot more to it than looks alone.
Most template designs follow a similar format with a large slider image area at the top and then rows of content areas below. They follow this format because of current trends, and the need to satisfy as many needs as possible. They also do not have the benefit of working with actual content, which means the website is not designed to fit the content that will eventually be used in it.
Often people can tell you have used a template design because the content doesn't fit it perfectly, the visual is similar to other sites that they have seen. This approach is therefore more obviously a lower budget decision and that can be quite obvious to your customers.
When you choose this approach with your website provider the process is shorter and cheaper because the company only needs to setup and then customise the design and they may already have access to the design in a coded format ready for implementation.
Designer websites fit the visual layout and structure to the content, objectives and end users of the website. What this means is that users have a website experience which is completely crafted for their needs. Utilising a designer approach, the interface is directly aligned with the brand personality of the business or organisation in every way.
A designer website interface shows your customers that you invest in your communications with them, are a professional business and value your brand. Designer websites are particularly important for companies that have a strong brand personality, have identified who their customers are and their needs, and have set specific marketing objectives to achieve.
When you choose a designer approach with your website provider, the process is longer than a template site because there is a bespoke interface design and coding phases required to build the website. Designer websites require substantial planning, so information architecture (content structure) is well organised and wireframes are often used to map out the layouts and adaptation for mobile devices. This level of depth in your project ensures you get a quality website that will perform well for your organisation and its users.
You can think of the differences between these two approaches in a similar way to construction of a house. You can select from a range of existing designs from a kitset home builder or you can go to an architect to have your house designed to your liking and exact requirements. Ultimately your decision will be determined by whether your needs are special, your preference for uniqueness, and the importance you place on website performance in the context of your overall business activity. Sometimes budget is the main driver of this decision, so if you need to keep costs to a minimum then a template option could be for you. If you have a budget set aside and you can afford to do it, then a designer site is ideal in most circumstances.Hayden BreeseCEO, Creative, Futurist