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Small Business Web Design: Template or Bespoke?

Small Business Web Design: Template or Bespoke?

Are you considering creating a website and aren’t sure whether you should use a template and do it yourself or go with a bespoke website and have it custom built for you? This is an important decision for small businesses everywhere, especially in this day and age where everything (and everyone) is online. So, what are you to do?

Before you sign up for either one, here are three considerations you may want to think about to help you make your decision:


This is probably the number one factor that is considered when small business owners are deciding between template and bespoke websites. Certainly, you work hard to save money where you can, so when it comes to your website, you apply the same virtue and cut costs where possible there too. Unfortunately, sometimes this does more harm than good.

Most definitely, if your choice is between a free or low-cost template website and no website at all because you simply don’t have the budget for it, then choose the template. At least you’ll have a site to direct your clientele to if they want to know more about you and what you do.

However, if you do have space in your budget for a bespoke website, this is always considered the better option, especially if you have no background in the next two considerations. You don’t have to spend a fortune on it, but there is more to creating a website than just putting content and graphics on a page, which leads us to the next point about design.

Design Capabilities

Some website templates are fairly easy to use and make look nice, which can help if you choose to take this route. You just plug your information in the predetermined slots and you’ve got a website that is ready to go.

If your business is rather unique though, it may be difficult to find a template that suits it. For instance, WordPress has many different themes to choose from if you are a photographer or food venue, but if you’re into manufacturing and sales of automobile steering wheel covers, your options are more limited, making a bespoke website a better option for you.

Also, while it may be tempting to go with a template design and modify it to better fit your company, you’ll want to be careful that your self-made design doesn’t detract viewers versus attract them. This requires proper use of highlights, colors, word choice and repetition, and more, as each one serves a purpose when it comes to the attractiveness and functionality of your website.


This third and final consideration is the one that can determine how successful your website actually is at attracting customers, if that is your goal for putting one up. After all, if your target market cannot find you even when they’re searching, what good is it going to do you?

Matthew Smith of Modmacro, Inc., a custom website design company, says that he sees this particular situation all of the time with startups especially and refers to it as a “billboard in the desert” scenario. In other words, you can put it up but if no one is going to see it, what’s the point?

If you want your website to rank high on major search engines like Google and Bing, you’re going to have to use SEO (search engine optimization) and put keywords in the correct spots. This means developing content that is keyword rich, but also making sure that the words that people will use to search for you are in the headers, tags, and places like that.

Now, if you just read that last paragraph and your eyes glossed over as if you were trying to decipher a foreign language, then you may want to go with a bespoke website and have someone else take care of this for you. On the other hand, if you found yourself nodding yes because you knew exactly what I was saying, then you’ll probably do just fine with a template that allows you to populate those various fields.

Although there may be other factors that help you decide whether a template or bespoke website is for you, these are three of the most common and, arguably, perhaps the most important. So, which way should you go? That is entirely up to you. But at least now you can make the decision intelligently.

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by Christina DeBusk // Freelance writer, author, and small business consultant committed to helping entrepreneurs achieve higher levels of success.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.