Custom web design vs website templates – which one is better?

If you’ve been researching local web design companies for your business website, there’s a good chance you’ve come across a wide range of different approaches to how a web agency approaches, designs and builds their websites. Just like most business, there’s never one way to put something together or build a particular thing and websites are no different.

Most people when they think about their website, they tend to think about the design of their site. This is no doubt an important aspect of the overall experience their website brings to their potential customers, but there are many different ways of putting together a design and some of them have more limitations and implications than others.

We’re here to give you a thorough overview of the different ways web developers put together websites – be they custom-designed, templated or a combination of both.

So, what are templated websites?

When you’re building a Joomla website, it comes pre-installed with two simple templates for you to use called Beez and Protostar. These are pretty simple templates and not something that’s going to give you a nice look and feel for your website design.

There are literally thousands – probably tens of thousands of different templates for Joomla – some of them great, others average and some are incredibly ordinary. There are many different elements that make up a great template, so let’s dive into a few of these so you’re able to decide what a good website template should encompass.

Template company or a single developer?

When considering using a template for your website design, it’s worth thinking about if you’re going to go with a well-established template company like Joomshaper, Rockettheme, Joomlart, GavickPro or Joomlashine. The other option is to jump onto a website like TemplateMonster and grab a template from a single developer or a small team. There are a few things you should consider before you simply grab a template you like the look of and upload it to your website.


Typically you will get better support from a company that develops templates as they usually have dedicated support staff answering questions in forums along with providing help to their members. Many template companies offer subscription options for ongoing support and it’s a good idea to seriously consider this as there are often certain elements you may need help with and the developers of the template can typically give you an answer in five minutes what might take you hours or even days to figure out.

Integrated plugins and modules

Often a Joomla template company will also incorporate a range of plugins and modules into their template designs. This can include things like slideshows, buttons, animated headings, countdown timers, photo galleries, form builders, pop up windows, charts, tables and much more.

You will find that because these plugins and modules are usually integrated into many of their templates, they’re well supported and receive regular updates. The same can’t be said for templates that are built by a single developer as usually it’s a case of design, build, deploy and forget.


If you buy a single template from a website like Template Monster, it’s possible the developer has thought about page speed and making the website really zip along, but typically this isn’t the case. If you buy from a well-established template company, it’s likely they’ve had some developers that know a thing or two about Gzip compression, caching, SCSS and asynchronous javascript and CSS loading to help websites really zip along.


It’s worth mentioning here that one of the biggest Wordpress hacks of late was through the use of free and pirated templates that inject malware onto your sites and create backdoor accounts to access your admin area. Please don’t use free themes as you never know what you’re getting.

A template company is more likely to bring out updates and patches to their templates should a security issue arise, thus making your website much safer in the long run (trust me – it costs a lot more to have a hacked website cleaned up than it does to purchase a template!).


One thing about putting up a template, changing a few logos and editing the content of a ready-made template is that it’s fast. If there’s a template that suits your business and brand perfectly or you’re not particularly worried about the look and feel of your website and you’re happy to slap a logo into an already existing template, you can have your website up and running very quickly.

So, what are custom designed websites?

Custom designed websites give you the ability to really go wild with the design and come up with something truly original, but it comes at a cost. Yes, you can get a totally innovative design that won’t be seen anywhere else, but there are several things you need to consider before going down this road.


Creating a custom-designed website will add a considerable amount of time to the overall timeline of your website design project. Usually, a design agency will put together an initial design to make sure they’re headed in the right direction in terms of colours, look and feel and to make sure the design is ‘on brand’.

Then once that’s been established they move onto what’s called ‘wireframes’. These are mockups of what the homepage, internal pages and possibly other pages like the contact us page or other important internal pages that may have complex elements added to the website design will look like.

Once the wireframes are approved, the agency then needs to have their developer build the template (sometimes this is offshored). All this takes time and will potentially add several weeks, even months to your project completion.


This is a little secret that not many people in the web design industry will let you know. Custom-designed templates are difficult to scale well. Sure you can add lots of pages to your website (tens or hundreds of thousands in fact) but we’re talking about the scalability of the design.

The one big drawback of a custom template for a Joomla web design project is that if down the track you wish to add additional module areas or positions for elements like slideshows, social media feeds, videos, right or left-hand sidebars, etc, it’s typically very difficult to code this into the template once the design has been finalised. This means that down the track you will be limited with what you can do with your website template as it’s essentially ‘hard coded’ in a particular format.


This is probably the biggest concern for most of our web design customers. Custom designed websites cost more and that’s a fact. There’s a lot more, and I mean A LOT more work involved with developing a custom design, wireframing it up, having a developer build it for you then implement it onto a website. This customised approach can run you into the many thousands of dollars extra on top of a template build.


The one great thing about having a custom design or custom template built for your website is that you can be sure you’re going to stand out from your competition and no one is going to have a website like yours.

So what’s better – a custom designed website or a template?

We’ve built hundreds and hundreds of websites over the years here at Marketeam and used a variety of different content management systems, templating systems, frameworks and design applications and we honestly think that a happy medium can be found using certain elements of both methods.

We’ve found that taking an existing template from a reputable template company like Rockettheme or Joomshaper and then carving away at it and changing the elements, colours, images, fonts, iconography and sections of the site to suit our client’s branding is the quickest and most cost-effective way to build a wonderful looking website that’s customised, scalable and doesn’t take forever to build.

Using a template with customised elements enables us to:-

  • Build a website quickly
  • Reduce the overall cost
  • Keep the website secure as we’re not using multiple plugins/modules from different sources
  • Get fast support if needed

If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of personality and you would like to have a go at building a site by yourself and install a template that you purchase off the web, we suggest going with a company like Joomshaper or Rockettheme.

If you want a website that’s got some of your own branding elements and ‘looks’ like your company, a web design company like Marketeam that builds using a combination of a template and custom design are a good option for you.

If you want something that’s totally unique and you have very particular ideas about how the site must look and cost isn’t really an issue, a custom website might be something you will want to explore.

If you would like to talk with Marketeam about website design, Joomla templates, or SEO, please feel free to call us on (07) 3882 3375 today and we would be happy to have a chat with you.