Choosing whether to create a custom website or use a ready-made website template is a critical decision as it can have an important impact on time and budget in terms of development and maintenance. To help you make that decision I have listed the advantages and disadvantages of using a website template.
You don’t have to imagine what the user experience design can or will look like or whether whoever is designing it understands your needs. That will save you from several changes and iterations before you reach the end-product. All you need is someone to deploy and customize it to your needs. Once the template is set up; all you need to do is change colors, pictures, icons and text to make it look unique.
Time is money. Your website may be ready for launch within a few days if you have the content and the pictures ready.
You can get a great website template for a very affordable price. Now all you need is a developer/designer who can help you set it up and customize it so that it looks unique.
Readymade website templates are often designed by great designers who also design custom websites. That provides you with a variety of custom and attractive design options from which you can pick or choose. But be aware that there are also many shitty design templates out there. Looking at sites like themeforest.net may save you some time when you’re looking for a great web design.
Website templates, WordPress in particular, often gives you a variety of add-on features such as portfolio/gallery, parallax scrolling, video backgrounds, blogs, bulletin boards, e-commerce, live chat, online booking to name a few. These dynamic features save you tons of development time as they are ready-made, often tested by many users and ready for installation within no time. Of course depending on the functionality and where it is to be integrated, compatibility needs to be checked in advance.
You’re not unique
Website templates are downloaded and used by many hundreds of users. Likewise, they are also build to meet the expectations of many users. If you need to look unique due to your brand and use unique and custom build features; a website template may not be for you.
Limitations on customization
A website template cannot be tweaked beyond a point. Spending too much time trying to tweak it will cost you more than building it from scratch. So if you have very specific requirements on how front- or backend works or looks, a website template may not be the right thing for you.
Accountability on code of ‘code’ conduct
Since website templates are created by developers around the world you’re not always guaranteed that the codes are written in accordance to best practice. One way to check the quality of the code is by copy-pasting the live preview of the template to validator.w3.org (the main source for code validation) and check whether there are no, few or many errors and warnings in terms. Bad quality of code may cause the page to become very slow among many other disadvantages.
Furthermore, although the website might look great on your screen and the specification states that the site is responsive, you may want to double check on a variety of devices to see how it works on all newer devices and browsers. You can check the live demo by pasting the URL on browserstack.com.
Again, website templates are created by developers around the world. Often you may use plugins all created by different developers. These developers were not planning on each plugin (a chunk of code) to be working side by side on your website. Furthermore, plugins that are not being downloaded and sold as frequently may not be released with new updates that live up to new standards.
Although you may hire an experienced developer to install and create your website, whatever plugins, add-ons and functionality that the site might have is not written by the developer you hire hence he or she may not have the best conditions when it comes to support and troubleshooting when something is not working properly.
Time spent searching for the right template
Although ready-made website templates save you a lot of time in terms of designing and coding, the amount of time it takes to search for the template that lives up to your exact requirements may be time-consuming. With that in mind, if you’re set of requirements are quite specific and probably not available on most custom templates, you risk that the time spent searching for the right template may be more time consuming than designing it from.