Web Development

Custom Web Design vs. Templates: A Cost-Benefit Analysis for Businesses

Custom web design offers unparalleled creativity and functionality, ideal for businesses with unique needs or a strong brand identity. Templates, on the other hand, provide a budget-friendly and time-saving solution for businesses with a simpler online presence. 

Let's analyse deeper and explore the specific advantages and considerations for each approach.

Advantages and Limitations of Website Templates


Website templates offer a compelling solution for businesses looking to establish a web presence without breaking the bank. The benefits include:

1. Cost-Effective: For businesses with limited budgets, website templates are a game-changer. Compared to custom web design, which can cost thousands of dollars, templates range from free (with limitations) to affordable one-time fees. This allows you to get your website up and running without a significant upfront investment.

2. Speedy Setup: Unlike custom design, which involves back-and-forth communication and development cycles, templates offer a pre-built framework. You can simply choose a template, customise it with your content and branding, and launch your website in a fraction of the time. This is ideal for businesses needing a website quickly, like a restaurant launching a new seasonal menu or a local event promoting a one-time festival.

3. Wide Variety of Choices: Today, there's a vast selection available, catering to diverse industries and functionalities. Whether you're a photographer showcasing your portfolio, a yoga studio offering online classes, or an e-commerce store selling handmade crafts, you'll find a template that aligns with your needs. These pre-designed options provide a solid foundation and inspiration, saving you the time and effort of starting from scratch.

4. Built-in Functionality: Many templates come with pre-built features like contact forms, galleries, and shopping carts. This eliminates the need for additional coding, saving you time and money.

5. Mobile-Responsive Design: In today's mobile-first world, a responsive website that adapts to different screen sizes is crucial. Many templates are inherently responsive, ensuring your website looks great on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

6. SEO Optimisation: Some website template providers offer templates with built-in SEO features, helping your website rank higher in search engine results.


While website templates offer a treasure trove of benefits, they also come with certain limitations to consider:

  1. Limited Flexibility and Customisation Options: Extensive customisation can be difficult or even impossible with templates. You might be restricted to changing colours, fonts, and logos, but altering the core layout or adding unique features can be challenging. This can limit your ability to tailor the user experience or implement functionalities specific to your business needs.
  2. Generic Design May Not Reflect Your Brand Identity: Standing out in a crowded digital world is essential. Unfortunately, with many businesses using the same template pool, your website might risk looking generic and failing to leave a lasting impression. This can be detrimental if you're aiming to build a strong brand identity and differentiate yourself from competitors.
  3. Potential Scalability Issues: As your business grows, adding new features, complex functionalities, or a significant amount of content can become cumbersome or even impossible with a template's pre-defined structure. This can necessitate a website redesign down the line, potentially incurring additional costs.
  4. Limited Support: While some template providers offer basic support, extensive customisation issues might require you to seek help from a web developer, adding to the overall cost.
  5. Security Concerns: Free or low-cost templates might have underlying security vulnerabilities. It's crucial to choose a reputable provider that prioritises website security.
  6. Vendor Lock-In: Switching templates in the future can be a complex process, especially if your content is intricately tied to the template's structure.
  7. Limited SEO Control: While some templates offer basic SEO features, extensive optimisation for search engines might be restricted, impacting your website's organic visibility.

When Custom Web Design is the Better Choice

For businesses seeking a website that truly reflects their unique vision and sets them apart, custom web design is the way to go. Here's when a custom approach shines:

  • Unique Brand Identity: A custom website design allows you to translate that brand identity into a digital experience that resonates with your target audience. From crafting a bespoke visual design to integrating your brand voice into the content, a custom website becomes an extension of your brand, fostering recognition and loyalty.
  • Complex Functionality: If your business requires specific functionalities beyond the scope of what templates offer, custom design is the answer. This could range from intricate product configurators for e-commerce stores to custom appointment booking systems for service providers.
  • Scalability & Growth: Custom web design is built for scalability. The underlying architecture can be designed to accommodate future growth, allowing you to add new features, integrate additional functionalities, or manage a surge in content without encountering limitations. This future-proofs your website, saving you from costly redesigns down the line.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): Custom web design allows for optimal SEO implementation. Your website's structure, code, and content can be meticulously optimised to rank higher for relevant search terms, driving organic traffic and potential customers to your website.
  • Enhanced User Experience (UX): Custom web design empowers you to craft a user experience (UX) that is intuitive, engaging, and tailored to your target audience. From user-friendly navigation to strategically placed calls to action, a custom website allows you to guide visitors through a seamless journey, ultimately achieving your business goals.

By investing in a custom website design, you gain a powerful tool to effectively communicate your brand story, deliver exceptional user experiences, and propel your business forward. 

Click here to learn about the essentials of responsive web design. 

How Custom Designs Can Be Cost-Effective

While custom web design might seem like a pricier option upfront, it can deliver significant cost-effective benefits in the long run. Here's how:

  • Long-Term Value: A custom website is an investment in your brand's digital presence. It's a high-quality asset that can serve you for years to come, eliminating the need for frequent redesigns or costly workarounds associated with template limitations. This translates to long-term value and a lower total cost of ownership over time.
  • Reduced Maintenance Needs: Custom websites are built with your specific needs in mind. This often means cleaner code, a well-organised structure, and a focus on user experience. The result? A website that is easier to maintain and update compared to a template with potentially clunky or bloated code. This translates to reduced ongoing maintenance costs, freeing up resources for other areas of your business.
  • Improved ROI (Return on Investment): A well-designed website is a powerful marketing tool. By delivering an exceptional user experience, increased brand recognition, and potentially higher search engine ranking, a custom website can attract more qualified leads and convert them into paying customers.
  • Custom Webflow Website Design: Consider a Content Management System (CMS) like Webflow when building your custom website. Webflow offers a user-friendly interface for managing content, allowing you to easily update your website without needing extensive coding knowledge. Its integration with the design software ‘Figma’ also gives you extra design capabilities and control.

Ready to Craft a Website That Converts?

At COH Digital - a leading custom website developer, we specialise in transforming business visions into custom web experiences that drive results. We partner with Australian businesses to build websites that not only look stunning but also strategically target your audience and achieve your marketing goals. Whether you’re looking for a template based website or a custom made website, we’re here to make sure your business gets the online attention it deserves.

Contact COH Digital today for a free consultation! Let's discuss your unique needs and craft a custom website that sets your business apart.