Bespoke v Template Web Design

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 design
Template web design
Best for
Database driven websites with advanced functionality, eg. financial services, recruitment, property, gyms, or those that handle large volumes of personal data
Best for
Websites requiring less functionality, eg. restaurants, personal trainers, tradespeople
Scope to create whatever you want, and add to it at a later date
More limited – you’re bound by the parameters of the existing template
User experience
Greater brand presence, more customisable for a more personalised user journey
User 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 level
More secure due to completely unique code format
Security level
Easier to hack
Speed of delivery
Slower to deliver
Speed of delivery
Can be delivered much more quickly
12 months
12 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.

What is template web design?

All websites look 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 simple online presence, a website builder could be a great way to cut out the middleman (aka the web designer) and have a go at making one yourself.

With a website builder, you are basically personalising a pre-populated online template, and you pay a small amount each month to keep the site live.

Check out our guide to the top 5 website builders, or the best website builders for small businesses for more info.

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. Bespoke websites generally have better SEO because the developers who make them have a more in-depth knowledge of how to build websites that Google loves.

Page load speed is also one of the key factors that helps Google to determine where your website should rank, and template formats are often slower than bespoke ones.

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.

▶ Find out more: How much does a website cost?

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 more than adequate.

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.

And if you’re still unsure about which type of website you need, don’t worry – just pop your details in the form and our advisors can talk through your needs, then recommend the best option for you.

Dan’s a Senior Writer at Expert Market, specialising in digital marketing, web design, and photocopiers, amongst other topics.