Over the past few years, great designers have been divided by fear that the demand for custom web design will soon diminish. And those who feared their work would be rendered obsolete had legitimate concern.
Ultimately, users assess a website’s simplicity, value and credibility. As a result, professionals in the industry began to argue the idea that users wouldn’t care (and couldn’t tell) if a website was custom or a template plucked from a shelf. It’s also been argued that a quality content strategy is how one gets visitors to purchase, request more information or donate— and that the appearance of the website itself was not a factor.
While some had valid arguments for the potential decline of the craft, here are 8 reasons why custom web design will never die:
1. Web design goes well beyond creating a visually stunning website.
Even though the physical appearance of a website is the first thing a visitor sees, it’s not the most important factor. Just like the late Steve Jobs of Apple once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” A custom web design and development agency creates an experience that is branded, looks compelling, works seamlessly and promotes efficiency both internally and externally. When going the DIY route, it’s impossible to guarantee all of those components.
2. Every brand’s objective is to stand out from its competition, not blend in.
Custom websites start out as a blank canvas, giving designers the ability to create a visual tone and message that conveys the value proposition of a brand’s product(s) or service(s). On the other hand, only so much can be done to turn a pre-designed template into a unique experience for visitors; by its very nature, a template is a packaged, low cost solution used by hundreds or thousands of businesses, potentially even a brand’s own competitors. Businesses need to stand out, and hiring a custom web design and development team is the only way to do so because only real people—not a template—can focus on presenting a brand’s core values and differentiators inside of a unique online experience.
3. The foundation of custom web design is the ability to evolve and scale.
As time goes on, design trends change and technology evolves—leaving businesses no choice but to keep moving forward. A template may or may not be supported, and you could be purchasing antiquated code and a design that trended a few years ago. Custom websites are actually likely to be more cost-effective in the long run because everything can be updated from look/feel to web technology, especially when the business experiences periods of transition and/or growth.
4. Including the client in the design process helps tell the story.
Allowing the client to get involved benefits the project more often than not. It’s been argued that allowing clients to collaborate within the custom web design process could cause problems, but that’s only opinion. Those at the business have insight into the history, vision and differentiating factors as to why customers choose its products or services over competitors’. Hiring a digital agency to do the work while having the ability to give some direction only makes the end result that much better.
5. Brand consistency and loyalty stem from custom web design.
Not only do brands want their websites to work efficiently for visitors, they also want them to look professional. When a custom web design agency is engaged, factors like brand consistency, user interaction, tone of messaging, calls-to-action and streamlined transactions all work in harmony to provide end users with a positive experience—making them more likely to share that experience with others and turn to the brand again in the future.
6. Custom web design has a human element, while templates do not.
Prefabricated WordPress themes and DIY templates are designed for one thing: to sell a high volume at a low cost. Trying to get support can be a nightmare. Most predesigned themes and template developers offer only an email address for contact purposes; They can be located anywhere in the world and can choose to respond to you, or not. Would you really put your business in a situation that involved that much risk?
7. Time is money, and custom websites help businesses save both.
While some business professionals may be able to get away with designing a DIY site initially, there will come a time when help is needed, specifically from a custom web design and development team. If the business hired an agency right from the start, they would have put those initial funds into a site that saves them time and money as the business grows. The more time wasted trying to design a below average site internally, the more time could have spent on new business development.
8. Prefabricated WordPress themes are often bloated; custom web design focuses on the unique needs a business.
When websites are built using a pre-existing template or theme, a big selling point can be the incredible number of features— which also means a ton of bloated code. When using a template, the cool features that seemed so appealing at the onset are found to be predominantly unnecessary, and often times it’s difficult to add custom features as the needs of a business evolve. The only thing more difficult is getting in touch with the original developer should you need his or her help.
It will always be more logical—and yield a higher return on investment—to hire a digital agency to design and build a website specific to business goals and objectives. Great agencies will dive deeper, beyond just designing a website, to understand how web technology can create efficiencies through integration, automation and so forth.
Custom web design will never die so long as there are businesses that stand behind the integrity of their brands: the promise they make to customers and the experience they deliver at every touch point.