Why Custom-Built Sites Deliver Greater Lifetime Value Than Low Cost Template-Based Sites

The proliferation of cheap (at least initially) template based websites raises the question: Why invest in a custom website?

Custom-built sites are they key to success!

Line 58 has a long history of crafting custom-built websites that solve business problems and deliver value for our clients. As you can imagine, over the years we have worked on many different Content Management Systems (CMS). We have worked with some really great systems including Movable Type, ExpressionEngine and Craft CMS. And some less optimal systems such as WordPress, Drupal, and a host of smaller players.

Although our tools have changed over the years, the process underlying their use has remained consistent — develop a content strategy and user experience that support our client’s goals and then build a website that delivers business results and supports the strategy. We see this process is an investment for our clients’ future successes.

But I can get a website for a lot less!

From a business owner’s point of view, the huge range in prices for getting a website is often bewildering; ranging from less than a hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lacking any criteria other than price, it is no surprise that many business owners struggle to understand the value proposition of a custom websites (and the strategy and thinking underpinning it!) vs. a guy who can knock out a website for $1,500 from the local coffee shop or a $250 monthly subscription service.

The key for business owners is to move beyond thinking of websites as an "expense to be minimized" and look at this as an investment in which the value proposition needs to be maximized to deliver the right results for your company at that right investment level. This requires some initial collaboration between you and your online team. (Hint: If someone provides you a proposal based upon your initial email / phone call without discussing your business goals and anticipated return on investment — ask yourself how they came up with the right solution for your company.

The cheapest web solutions are based on cookie-cutter template designs, whether they’re WordPress themes or Squarespace templates. While they can be beautiful and sexy, they often fall down where it matters most: delivering top-line growth and achieving business goals.

Template-based designs are cheap because they are sold over and over to as many people as possible. This has a number of drawbacks for the organization using them. From a branding perspective the website will be limited in its ability to convey your unique value proposition to your customers and clients. And because the theme was designed for everyone and thus no-one, it has difficulty advancing a business goal: it needs to be general-purpose.

Maybe I can customize a theme?

To address these shortcomings developers will often start with a WordPress theme and customize it based on the client’s needs. But this customization is generally aesthetic — because they are treating this as a "look and feel" issue (oh, you want an image slider on the home page?) and not a critical business strategy endeavor.

The more hacking of templates that’s done, the more the project costs. But the true cost comes later — when you discover that all this cheap-up-front hacking and shoehorning means that the cost to maintain your site over time. Or when you want to update the website and discover that it has to be torn down and done over because the underlying code is crumbling under its own weight.

Often we find it is more effective to start the website from scratch rather than spend time overriding and tweaking choices made in the original theme design or CMS. This is where a CMS like Craft really shines — it makes no assumptions about your design or how the content is organized.

To be clear, we’re not saying there’s never a case for using template-based solutions. We recommend doing whatever best supports your business goals and your communicates your unique offerings to your clients and customers.

If you’re curious how a custom website can benefit you, get in touch!

Together, we can build a custom website with your business goals in mind.

Get started on your project or give us a call at 504.891.4526 to speak with a Line 58 team member today.