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Templates vs. Themes vs. Custom Designs – What’s Right for Me?

Most small businesses want the best looking website for the most affordable price. How they go about doing that can vary drastically. Some try the DIY approach, buying a pre-made theme and attempting to set things up themselves. Others might opt for using a company that offers affordable templates and some form of hosting.

And for companies willing to put up a little more money, there are web design companies that will create completely custom designs. Or at least, they’ll say they’re custom designs. You never really know, sometimes.

But what exactly is the difference between all of these? And more importantly, what solution is best for you?

Let’s take a closer look at the different design options you’ll run into, and what exactly they mean.

Themes and templates.

We’re going to group these two together because they’re often used interchangeably. Typically, they’re referring to a pre-made design and layout that you can customize to varying degrees. While, they’re closely related, they’re not actually the same thing.

A theme is layer of styling that goes across your entire website, affecting the fonts, colors, heading, logo, etc. Themes may have additional features and functionality, from picture sliders to shortcodes and more.

Typically, a theme will also have a pre-designed homepage template.

A template is a design for a specific page. A theme may come with multiple page templates you can use throughout the site, or it may just come with a homepage template and a generic interior template.

If a web design company is having you choose from template designs, it likely means you get a special homepage and a stock interior page.

For both themes and templates, the level of quality can range greatly. The same goes for the level of customization available. Often, the themes and templates offered by design companies are restricted to a handful of colors and fonts, and no flexibility beyond that.

If you’re purchasing a third-party theme by yourself, it could become discontinued and outdated, leaving you with a broken site.

Custom design.

A proper custom designed website is what it sounds like. A graphic designer creates a multilayered Photoshop file stylized specifically for your branding. Every piece is unique. Once the design has been approved by you, a developer brings the layers of the Photoshop file to life by turning it into code.

Depending on what you sign up for and what you need, they may create custom designs for multiple pages, or they may simply create a homepage along with a standard interior layout.

While a custom design sounds great, it’s not without its drawbacks. For starters, it takes longer. Depending on how much you go back and forth in the design process, it can take a lot longer.

And then there’s the coding of the website, which takes even more time. Since this website is being built from the ground up, there will likely be a few bugs and screensizing issues that pop-up.

Of course, all this extra time leads to extra cost as well.

The strangest part, however, is even with the extra steps, time, and cost, custom designs often don’t look that much better or different than a top notch theme.

Are both options starting to leave you with mixed feelings? We have a solution.

What Launch Runner offers.

Launch Runner has been around for a while, and we’ve built hundreds of websites. We’ve created custom designs, and we’ve also wrestled with some templates. And through this, we’ve discovered a solution that provides the best of both worlds:

Customizable layouts.

Look at just about any well-designed small business website, and once you get past the pictures, fonts, colors, animations, etc., you realize that the general layout doesn’t change much.

The menu and logo are at the top. There’s a big picture with some text and a button. A few sectioned areas follow that. And it all leads to a footer at the bottom.

Creating a custom layout for each site simply isn’t worth the time and money it takes for most small businesses.

So we took it out of our process.

Don’t worry, you still get choices. We offer a wide-range of layouts so that your homepage can display all the necessary information in an order that works for your business. Each of these is pre-coded and optimized for mobile, significantly reducing both the time and cost involved in the web-building process.

Once you have a layout selected, we customize it to match your business’s brand from top to bottom.

The end result is a website that looks just as unique as a custom design, created in a much shorter timeframe for a cost comparable to the generic themes of the world.

We use the most popular tools and practices in the industry, so you don’t have to worry about it becoming outdated or broken. In fact, we host and manage it for you, providing you with direct access to a support team for no additional charge.

Want to learn more? Contact us today!