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Website Builder vs Custom Web Design: What’s the Best Way to Get a Website?

By Will Stevens - January 19, 2023

You’ve decided it’s time get your business online. Now, you’re not doubt looking into the best option to:

  • Get a website that looks and works great on all devices.
  • Stay within your budget.
  • Launch it sooner rather than later.
  • Modify or upgrade the site as your business grows.

So, what’s the best way to create a website: use a website builder or hire a web designer to create your site’s design?

There’s no right or wrong answer. It all depends on your needs, skills, budget, and time frame. In this post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each option so you can make an informed decision about the best option for you. Note: Prices in this article are correct at time of writing and do not include VAT.

Before you choose between a website builder and customer website

Before you decide between a website builder and a custom web design, take some time to write down what your website is about and what you want to accomplish with it.

For example, if you’re looking to sell products online like art prints or teapots, you’ll need an online shop with product pages and functionality that allows customers to buy from you.

If you sell services like plumbing or accounting, you’ll want a business site where visitors can learn more about what you do, book your services or fill out a form to get in touch. And if you sell courses online, you’ll need a blogging functionality that allows you to create a blog and write great content to attract potential customers to your online space.

These are things you need to consider before moving forward because they influence the type of site that’ll bring you closer to success.

So, take some time to think about how you want your website to look, feel, and function, as well as your skills, time, and budget. Once you have a good idea of what you need and the kind of experience you want to provide to visitors, you can consider your options for creating a site.

Defining website builder vs custom web design

If you’re just getting started online and are not familiar with these two options, let’s quickly explain what they mean. If this is already clear to you, skip to the next section.

What’s a website builder? It’s a tool that allows you to create and get your site up and running with no coding, design, or technical skills. With a website builder, you can simply choose a pre-made template that’s usually designed with your business and industry in mind, and then customise it to match your brand.

Website builders make customisation easy thanks to a simple to use drag-and-drop feature. This feature allows you to drag and drop elements on a page and reorganise your blocks of content without ever having to see or change a line of code.

A custom web design refers to hiring a web designer to create a personalised design for your site from scratch. Note that a web designer only handles the design of your site, meaning how it looks. You’ll also need a web developer to code that design and turn it into a functional website.

Now that you know what these options mean, let’s look at the pros and cons of each so you can decide on the right one for you.

Custom web design pros and cons

Here are some things to consider if you’re looking to hire a professional web designer to draw up a personalised theme for your website.

Pros of custom web design

  • Get a unique theme. A web designer will work with you to draw up a personalised theme based on your specific needs and requirements. This means the final result will be a custom theme that’s unique to you and your business.
  • Build a consistent brand identity. A web designer can assist you with everything you need to build a memorable brand. They can advise on and design not just your website theme but also your logo, help choose your colour scheme, fonts, and more.
  • Get advice and custom solutions. If you’re stuck on how best to design a product page to ensure a smooth experience for your customers, designers can use their knowledge and expertise to advise you on the best options. For example, if you have an idea of how you’d like your homepage to look or function, they can tell you if it’s doable and/or recommended for your type of business and website.

Cons of custom web design

  • Finding a professional web designer can be a challenge. Sure, there are lots of freelance designers and agencies to choose from, but finding one with the skills and expertise you require takes time. You’ll need to do your research, read reviews and testimonials, and do interviews before deciding on the right person to work with. Read this article for some tips on how to outsource web design in the right way.
  • It can be costly. Since you’re getting a custom site designed from scratch, it’s only normal that it will cost you more than any other option. You’ll also need to consider the cost of hiring a developer to help turn that design into a functional site.
  • It’s time-consuming. It can take between 15 days to 3 months for a professional to create your site’s design and for a developer to build it for you. Web developer Bill Erickson wrote an article where he explains the stages to building a new site. The first two stages alone – discovery and design – take about nine weeks. Add to that the development phase and the modification period, which can take up to five weeks. That’s three months and a half. This time frame can also be delayed by other factors like finding the right web designer to work with as well as their availability. Learn more about how long it takes to build a website.

Website builder pros and cons

Is a website builder the right choice for you? Let’s look at the pros and cons of creating and getting your site online using this tool.

Pros of custom web design

  • Ideal for anyone who’s on a limited budget. One of the obvious advantages to using a website builder is the cost. For example, Starter Managed WordPress hosting from 123 Reg costs as little as £1.99 a month, while the 123 Reg Website Builder starts at just £5.59 a month. If you’re redesigning your site or creating your first website, the cost of site builder is hard to beat.
  • Use a template designed with your business in mind. Thanks to pre-designed templates you can select the one that’s just right for your business and industry. Most templates are designed with specific industries in mind so you’re almost guaranteed to find one that works perfectly for your new site.
  • Easy to use and customise with no technical skills required. Aside from being affordable, a website builder is also easy to use even if you don’t have any design or technical skills. All you need to do is choose a template and then customise it to make it your own. You can add your logo, change colours, add images and videos. You can also reorganise the layout of your page however you see fit thanks to the drag-and-drop feature. In a few hours and with a little effort, you can have your site ready to receive its first visitors.

In addition to all these benefits, with the 123 Reg managed WordPress hosting you get everything else you need to get your site online – domain name, email, SSL certificate, malware scan, and site backup. This way you never have to worry about the technical aspects of managing your site because everything’s being taken care for you.

Cons of using a website builder

  • Your basic website design is not unique. Website builders provide a variety of pre-made templates you can use for your site. While other people will use the same template as you, this is where customisation comes in. You can change the colours, where on the page you want to display images, videos, testimonials, bookings forms, and more.
  • You’ll need to make all design-related decisions. When working with a web designer, they can advise on which fonts and colours to use, where to place your contact form, and more. When using a website builder, it’s entirely up to you to use the template as it is designed or make whichever changes you like. Fortunately, a quick search on our blog will return lots of articles with tips and advice on how to choose the right template and what changes to make to ensure success.
  • You’ll need to make the changes yourself. A website builder is a DIY solution, which means that if you want to add or edit text or replace an image, you’ll be in charge of that, and not a web designer. Luckily, website builders are easy to use so you’ll have no trouble finding your way around and making the changes you need with little effort.

Wrapping up

There’s no right or wrong solution for creating a website. What’s more important is to get online where customers are looking for what you have to offer. So, consider your needs, skills, budget, and time frame, as well as the pros and cons in this article, and make the decision that’s right for you and your business.