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Why we believe in Custom Design.

Why we believe in Custom Design
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming eBook "Seven Essential Elements of Effective Websites"

There are most likely, almost a million templates for different web platforms out there. A template is a pre-created web design that can be applied to a platform, content management system or web system. Of those hundreds of thousands, there are, at any given time, a few to a dozen that are trending. At the time of this writing, the most popular is a single scrolling page with gaps that show images behind the content, scrolling in the opposite direction, or at a different rate. Most popular templates have a gimmick like this that makes them trendy and drives the demand.

Templates usually have parameters that can be changed, or customizations that can be applied. Your company can attach their logo to the top and make modifications to the template, and you have a working site with a design that can be applied quickly and for short money. For this reason, a templated solution is very tempting.

A templated site has some major drawbacks however. The problem is not that there are not enough templates out there to set you apart from most of your competition, there are. However, relatively few of them have a modern, compelling look, and once you choose one of those, it will take only a short period of time to run into another site with the same template. If you have a logo, or more importantly, have a professionally designed identity package, you know that the key is not to choose one from a selection, but to have an identity that is unique and uniquely expresses the heart of what you do. Your website is an integral part of your corporate identity. Your website is most likely the first place your company is discovered by potential customers or clients. The first impression that is made should be one that fully expresses your company’s identity, rather than modification of someone else’s idea of a good generic skin.

This doesn’t mean that if you like a gimmick in use by a template, it cannot be applied to your site. The advantage of having a custom designed, custom built site is that the gimmick is not integral to the design, and can be let go once the trend has faded without having to apply another template to your site.

Jumping from template to template once that template’s popularity fades has the effect of shifting your corporate identity with the web trend winds. This dilutes your identity, and effects the first and future impressions you make on your potential clients and customers.

Naturally, a custom designed site is not cheap, certainly not free. However, I think there is a powerful argument to be made for the investment in a unique design for your site. For example, if you run a brick and mortar business, you wouldn’t rely on a template for your store interior and store front unless you had to do so as part of a franchise or chain. Nor would you choose from a template library for your advertising campaign. It is essential that you create an original and compelling design for these elements of your business because they express your uniqueness, what sets you apart from your competition.

That is why it is curious that businesses consider a template for their websites. Increasingly, more people are likely to find your company online before traveling past your physical store or even before they see your ad. Why is it then, that businesses expect the design of a website to be done with little or no monetary expense, except for the expense of the impact and clarity on your corporate identity?

As an investment in your business goes, custom design is short money in the long run. A custom designed site will be able to go much longer between redesigns than one that runs a template because what is being expressed in the design is aligned with your company’s mission and purpose. Effects and gimmicks can be applied and replaced as the need arises, but the overall structure and user experience will remain in harmony with your core identity for years if you start with a design that is tailored specifically for you.