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The Pros and Cons of Custom Website Design and Free Website Builders

The Pros and Cons of Custom Website Design and Free Website Builders

by Stephen Brust - February 2013

Your website is an incredibly important component of your online marketing. And there’s a vast number poorly designed websites to make it worth saying again. Your company’s website is a perfect opportunity to make an impression on a potential customer.

What does your website say about you? Is it outdated, cluttered and unappealing? Or is it simple, streamlined and professional? Think about this, you call 2 real estate agents to come out to sell your house. One drives up in a Mercedes Benz, the other drives up in a beat up 1970 Dodge truck. Which one do you think will represent you best? Just like your website, if it’s not popin, people won’t stick around or call.

Developing a good website starts with one question: “Do I want to be successful?”

There are hundreds upon thousands of free website templates for you to choose from when building your site. Chances are you’ll have to sort through a lot of the templates before you find one that you can make work for your brand and site goals.

Pros of Free Website Templates
1. Free. – If you’re brand new business launching a brand new site, you may not have the budget for a professional, custom website design. Using a free template means you can allocate your limited budget elsewhere.

2. You can do it yourself – When you use a free template, you’re the designer. You can make changes at 2 AM if you feel like it – you call the shots.

Cons of Free Website Templates
1. Other sites look the same – The best free website templates get used a lot. You’re probably not the only one to stumble upon that certain perfect design for your site. There might be hundreds of sites that look just like it.

2. People can tell when it’s free – Most free templates don’t hide the fact that they’re free templates very well. Unless you do some serious editing to create a custom header and footer, most people can tell.

3. It might not mesh perfectly -You are limited to your design skill. There are templates you can start with, but no matter what, it’s a free website builder and your design is going to suffer. No direct server access. Meaning you cannot edit the programming code of the site.

4. Most important it is NOT portable and you DON’T own it. – This is BIG. You never know what the next thing will be. When working with a free site builder you will be unable to transfer the design elements or any of the files when you leave. That means you will have to start from scratch and take all of the content and migrate it yourself.

5. Time – Realize that it will take a lot of time to develop the site you want. While the site builders are easy, I’ll give them that, you do have to “get the hang of it.” So there is a learning curve… which typically becomes a learning wave as you continue to try new things and need to go through the learning process again. you need to focus on growing your business. So… time is a big factor.
If you decided you did want to pay for a custom website design, there’s no shortage of great web designers and developers willing to do the work for you, if you don’t have the skills.

Pros of Custom Website Designs
1. Completely custom – No need for compromise when developing a custom website. You can build it to look and feel however you want.

2. Accurately reflects your brand – You aren’t trying to fit a round peg into a square hole when you custom design your site. You are the only one with this design. Every aspect of that site is designed to reflect your brand and online goals. You can customize your site design to fit in with the rest of your Internet strategy.

3. No Worries – If you don’t know anything about web design and development, hiring a professional to do it for you lifts the burden off your shoulders so you can concentrate on other things, like focusing on what you do best, your business.

4. You OWN it.

Cons of Custom Website Designs
1. It can get expensive – Depending on skill level, a web designer or developer could charge you anywhere from $35 to $300 dollars an hour to build and maintain your site.

2. Changes may take time – When you’re not the one handling the web design, you have to count on a 3rd party to make the needed changes. Developments might not happen as quickly as you’d like.

There are pros and cons to both free templates and custom designs. You have to decide what makes sense for your business and your budget.

I will tell you that unless you like doing things over again, your best option is to find a quality designer and let them handle your site. Do what you do best and make money…
There are many companies that are trying to cater to the Small Business crowd.

Here is a list:
Network Solutions
1&1 Hosting