How do I choose between custom or semi-custom website design?
Investing in a website for your business is a critical part of your marketing and branding strategy. There have been many studies done over the last several years by leading research organizations that all lead to the same conclusion. The first time anyone encounters your brand will likely be online through your website. So that first feeling and user experience will create that first impression. And we all know the old adage – you only get one chance to make a first impression!
So the first question you are likely to consider is: how do I want to build my website? This is true if you are a do-it-yourselfer or plan to hire someone to build the website for you.
You have many options to consider which are driven by your budget, your expertise and your goals for the website.
Using template-based page builders, with drag and drop design interface does not require much skill and is inexpensive compared to the alternatives. However, the design look will be limited by the builder options available, and it is more difficult to search engine optimize (SEO) the website because you have no access to the back-end of the website where much of the more advanced SEO magic is happening.
A more robust option is to build a WordPress website using a page builder, like Divi, Beaver Builder, Elementor and others with feature rich page builders and page editors. These WordPress page builders come with libraries of hundreds of pre-built designs you can customize or personalize to your personal design preferences. This is the semi-custom option, which is less expensive than the custom approach because you are significantly reducing the design time and you get a head start on the development because the selected theme allows you to upload a pre-built page with your selected design.
To develop a custom designed website, a graphic designer creates multiple design concepts (typically three Home pages) for consideration. Then the team will collaborate to iterate the design concepts to deliver something unique for your website experience. Once you have a Home page design, then you need to incorporate the design elements into all the other pages (About Us, Contact Us, Products or Services, etc.). When all the pages are designed, then each page has to be programmed from scratch.
By comparison, a custom design effort is many times more time intensive than starting from a pre-built design, even one that is personalized for your personal preferences.
If you have a unique vision for your website and you can afford the additional expense, then custom is the way to go. If your budget is more modest, personalizing a pre-built design (semi-custom) is the best option.