Exactly What You Want by Brittany Bennett
How to know when you need a custom website instead of WordPress for your website
I sell custom websites for a living and I often speak about the benefits that a custom design can offer versus using a template design such as WordPress. That said, I am still a fan of WordPress and sometimes I suggest it to leads I am consulting with, even at the risk of losing a sale. The fact simply is that custom websites are not for everyone. So how do you determine if a custom design is right for you? There are several important factors.
For a lot of entrepreneurs, the most important factor is cost. I’m not going to lie. Custom designs are more expensive than template designs just like a Lexus is more expensive than a Toyota. Are Toyotas still good cars? Absolutely. However, if your target market are people that drive a Lexus, and your competition are people that drive a Lexus, it may be more difficult for you to close a sale running around town in a Toyota.
Let’s say you are a financial advisor. You just left your comfy job at Charles Schwab and you are venturing out on your own for the first time. You no longer have a paycheck to rely on and while you put on your confident face every morning, it is scary taking on start-up expenses without knowing where your next revenue stream is going to come from. You know you have to spend your shoestring budget wisely and be careful about taking on unnecessary costs.
Most entrepreneurs just getting started like our financial advisor don’t have the budget for a custom design. They get sticker shock when I tell them our prices start at $5,000. They just want a simple static site (meaning all text and images, no special functionality) that lists their services and their contact information. They have a budget of $1,000-$3,000. These people are not a good fit for a custom website. I refer these potential customers to other agencies where they can get a template website in their price point.
Now let’s go back to that financial advisor example. Let’s say you’ve been on your own for a year or two and your book of business is starting to grow. You are going after larger accounts and it is important that you look polished so you can compete with larger, more established advisors that have now become your direct competition. These competitors all have custom websites and so do most of the clients you are trying to sign. You’ve outgrown your $1,000 template website, and it has now become a source of embarrassment you find yourself hesitant to drive traffic to it instead of utilizing it as the powerful marketing tool it should be.
I don’t know about you, but I do tend to judge a business based on their website. I know I am biased because of what I do for a living, but when I am considering hiring a vendor for a job and I see that they have a poorly designed template website, I immediately disqualify them. If they don’t believe in their business enough to invest in it, why should I? Your website is the first impression that most people get in regards to your business, and the thing about first impressions is, you only get one. People that understand this and see the value in it are the people that need a custom website.
That said, let me clarify I am only talking about the frontend of your website (the design). I use WordPress all the time for the backend of websites. They have excellent plug-ins and content management systems that can save tons of cost on programming hours.
In conclusion, would I use WordPress for the backend of a custom website I build for a client? As mentioned above, absolutely. I like to save my clients money whenever I can. I am not in the business of nickel and diming honest people with a dream. But, would I use a WordPress template for the frontend of one of my client’s websites? No. Why? Because WordPress sites are priced lower than a custom designed site for a reason. If they are not customized properly or the theme/framework is recognizable, they end up looking inexpensive, which ends up making them look like less care was taken in the development process. We all know the saying, “you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover” but the reality is, most people do. Your website is the “cover” of your business’ “book.” What does yours say about you?
Born and raised by entrepreneurs in Portland, OR, Brittany Bennett has always had a passion for business development. Brittany co-founded WebBrand Agency in 2011 after discovering a need in the market for affordable, custom websites. Discovering a client’s vision and then giving them something tangible to share that vision with the world is what makes Brittany’s job rewarding.