Bespoke Websites vs Template Web Design

dimly lit setting with computer screen on showing a bespoke website for clothing

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When researching web design, you may hear the terms ‘bespoke web design’ and ‘template web design’ being bandied about.

But what do they actually mean, and which is better?

The fact of the matter is, a bespoke website is better – plain and simple. However, these come at a price – literally.

Whether you want or need to pay for one depends on the nature of your business, and your plans for its future. Often, a template website will be more than enough to cover you.

Bespoke v template web design: at a glance


Bespoke vs Template web design
Bespoke web designTemplate web design
Best forDatabase driven websites with advanced functionality, eg. financial services, recruitment, property, gyms, or those that handle large volumes of personal dataBest forWebsites requiring less functionality, eg. restaurants, personal trainers, tradespeople
FunctionalityScope to create whatever you want, and add to it at a later dateFunctionalityMore limited – you’re bound by the parameters of the existing template
User experienceGreater brand presence, more customisable for a more personalised user journeyUser experience‘Tried and tested’; template websites will be improved upon the more they’re used, but ultimately they’re not personal to your brand
Security levelMore secure due to completely unique code formatSecurity levelEasier to hack
Speed of deliverySlower to deliverSpeed of deliveryCan be delivered much more quickly
Warranty12 monthsWarranty12 months

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What is bespoke web design?

So, what actually is bespoke web design?

With bespoke web design, or ‘custom’ web design, your web developer creates your website completely from scratch. It’s completely tailored to the unique needs of your business.

Key features of a bespoke website:

  • Database-driven
  • Advanced functionality
  • Unlimited subpages

Sounds, good right? And it is – but not every business actually needs a bespoke website. More on that later.

Bespoke websites are best for: Database driven websites with advanced functionality, eg. financial services, recruitment, property, gyms, or those that handle large volumes of personal data.

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You can hire a web design agency to build you a custom website that looks and runs exactly how you want it to.

What is template web design?

All types of websites appear different on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that many are in fact versions of the same template. This is a quick and affordable way for web design agencies to deliver websites to their customers, and it’s an idea that’s not without its benefits.

That said, a template website won’t cut the mustard for lots of businesses.

Template websites are best for: Websites requiring less functionality, eg. restaurants, personal trainers, tradespeople.

But what about website builders?

If you only need a basic online presence, a website builder cuts out the middleman and works out far cheaper than hiring a specialist web design expert.

With a website builder, you generally edit a template with your own images and text, paying a small amount each month to keep the site live.

Check out our guide to the best website builders for a closer look at your options here.

Wix website templates

Here are some Wix website templates that you can edit to create your own dream website.

Bespoke web design: Pros and cons

Let’s examine the core advantages and disadvantages of a bespoke/custom website:

Pros of bespoke web design:

1. It’s bespoke!

The clue’s in the name; a bespoke website is unique, and will really wow your crowd. If you know your website plays a big role in attracting customers, and you want them to be seriously impressed, think of a bespoke website as a good investment. It’ll really help set you apart from competitors.

2. It’s more flexible

A template website may fit your needs right now, but if you branch out in a different direction further down the line, you might find it too limited. You can easily add new functionality to a bespoke website as you need it.

3. The SEO is generally better

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and refers to how high up your website appears on search engine results pages (such as Google). Web experts know how to include SEO in web design, so their skills can increase the number of visitors that find you through Google and social media search functions.

Page load speed is also one of the key factors that helps Google to determine where your website should rank, and template-built websites can end up loading slowly because they get bogged down with too many features. A web designer, on the other hand, will ensure quick loading speed throughout the project.

4. They’re more secure

Web code that’s been written from scratch is much harder for hackers to crack than a regular template. If you handle lots of personal customer data, this is worth bearing in mind.

Cons of bespoke web design:

As the old maxim goes, “good, fast, cheap – pick two”. Web design is no exception:

1. It takes longer

Do you want it done fast, or do you want it done right? If you fall into the first bracket, a template website will be a better option for you right now. Bespoke websites take far longer to get up and running because of the sheer amount of work that goes into them.

2. It costs more

As you’d expect, bespoke websites cost more because they require a lot more work. Again, you need to think of it as a real investment in your business, rather than a ticked box.

Template web design: Pros and cons

Template websites may not be as technically sophisticated as bespoke ones, but they still have plenty to offer.

Pros of template web design:

1. It’s a tried and tested design

Templates have been tweaked from site to site to offer a near perfect user experience for their specific industry.

2. It’s quick to implement

As template websites involve much less work, they can be up and running far quicker – perfect if you need a website in a hurry.

3. It’s much cheaper

So if your website needs are relatively straightforward, or you want to give an existing site a modern refresh, a template could be the way to go. We’ve written in detail about the cost of a website so check out that guide next.

Cons of template web design:

1. It might look generic

Template websites are tried and tested, yes – but with this comes the risk that they’ll also look a bit tired and generic.

2. It’s more limiting

If you want to add new functionality at a later date, such as ecommerce, you may find your template can’t support it.

Expert verdict

It’s clear that bespoke websites are the all-round winner on the design scene.

That said, they do cost considerably more, and take longer to create. Businesses who are only looking for a simple online presence will most likely find a template website suits them down to the ground.

Whether you want a bespoke or template website, one thing’s for sure; you’ll get a better deal (and a better product) if you compare quotes from a variety of designers.

That’s where we can help. Simply fill in this short form to receive custom quotes from agencies who are ready to take on your project, leaving you to sit back and choose the one you best like the sound of.

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Written by:
Sabrina Dougall
Sabrina is a business journalist whose career began in news reporting. She has a master's in Investigative Journalism from City University London, and her work has appeared in The Times, The Daily Express, Money Saving Expert, Camden New Journal, Global Trade Review, and Computer Business Review. She specializes in writing about SEO (search engine optimization). Having run her own small business, Sabrina knows first-hand how critical digital marketing is to building a client base and local reputation.
Reviewed by:
Robyn Summers-Emler, Grow Online Editor, Profile Picture
Robyn started working on Expert Market in 2021 as a specialist in business websites and digital marketing. As the Grow Online Editor, she ideates, commissions and optimizes content on Expert Market that helps businesses thrive in online spaces and maximize their ecommerce potential. Covering everything from choosing a website builder to scaling a social media marketing strategy - Robyn uses her expertise to help startups, SMBs, and larger businesses realize digital growth in an increasingly competitive landscape.