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Website Builders vs Custom Websites: Which is better?

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Whether you’re a new entrepreneur, a mostly-offline professional or in the middle of a rebrand, your business will eventually reach a point where it needs an online presence to grow. With so much information out there, it can be hard to figure out which route to go: develop a custom website or turn to a website builder.

Both options have their time and place, but at Colouring Department we recommend going the custom route whenever possible. To help you make easy, informed decision, here’s all you need to know about custom websites and website builders, and how to know when you should use each.

Website Builders

What is a website builder?

Those who want a DIY option often use website builders. Some of the most popular builders include Wix, Squarespace and Weebly.

Website builders are usually HTML-based editors, but some allow you to include custom CSS and JavaScript. They’re typically templated and built step-by-step, so they can be used regardless of your design background or coding knowledge.

When should you use a website builder?

If you’re determined to go the DIY-route, website builders can have their benefits. Most website builders are based on templates, meaning they’re simple to use and can get you online fast. Bloggers, hobbyists and others who need to get online as quickly as possible but who aren’t looking for something overly professional often choose a website builder over a custom website.

When shouldn’t you use a website builder?

While you may be tempted by a website builder’s quick-fix solution, there are plenty of situations when you shouldn’t use them:

  • You want something unique. Though the templates provided by these builders are easy-to-use, they lead to generic, undistinguished websites.
  • You need advanced features. If your business needs special plugins, like scheduling tools or online shopping features, they are unlikely to be supported by a website builder.
  • You have a limited budget. While many people think website builders are the cheaper option, this isn’t true in the long-term. Most website builders charge a monthly or annual fee, so you end up paying for your website over and over again. A custom design typically costs less in the long-run.
  • You need to get found in search engines. Most website builders are awful at SEO – so if your business success depends at all on your ability to be found online, a custom option is always better.
  • You need to control the responsiveness of your site. Some edits require development capabilities and you may be limited by the generic responsive functions of a website builder. Adjusting to specific devices is often impossible and if your clients are mainly newer mobile phones (like the iPhone 8) you may not be able to tailor the view for them.
  • Marketing automation and system integration. There are plugins available for certain integrations, but you may have specific needs requiring custom code. Optimising your analytics and marketing automation is an ongoing process and often requires regular tweaking that your design/development company can set up for you.

Custom Websites

What is a custom website?

A custom website is a website that has been built for you by a professional, whether an individual or a team. These experienced professionals will be able to turn your vision into reality.

Unlike website builders, custom websites allow for more personalisation, helping you and your brand stand out from the crowd. They also tend to be cheaper in the long-term, offering better analytics insights, more customised marketing and a better return on your investment.

When should you use a custom website?

Deciding to invest in a custom website will always lead to a superior product. Not only do custom websites look more professional, but they also allow you to stand out from your competition, deliver a better user experience, and are more likely to represent your brand accurately.

Here are just a few reasons why you might decide to use a custom website:

  • You want quality. If you need your brand to look sophisticated and professional online (and not look like your website was built yourself), a custom website is always best. It’s also the best way to make sure your website looks unique to your brand.
  • You need special features. A custom website is more likely to allow you to sell products online or integrate sophisticated app and programs. Professional designers are familiar with the latest technologies and can code special features into your design.
  • You want something strategic. Web designers do much more than make your website look good: they approach your website with a sense of strategy. A good designer has a solid understanding of user experience (UX) and will do proper research into what’s going to make you successful online. They can also build in tools to help your SEO and conversion rates.

When shouldn’t you use a custom website?

Even though they have many benefits, there might be things standing in your way of using a custom website. Maybe your website isn’t your biggest priority right now, and you need a quick and easy shortcut to an online presence. Or, maybe your business is brand new and you can’t quite afford a custom design right now.

In these situations, we still always recommend talking to a website developer and marketing specialist before resorting to a website builder. They may be able to build you a semi-custom website using a theme-based approach. This is a quicker and cheaper alternative to fully custom websites while maintaining a higher level of quality and customisation than a website builder.

Ready to go custom?

It’s no secret that a custom website is always the best option. If your business or brand is in need of a custom website, we’d love to help. We’ve built beautiful online brands for clients in a variety of industries, and we know what goes into a strategic website that works long-term. Get in touch with us today and let’s work together to develop a custom solution for your brand.