What is a Custom Website Design | Michigan Web Design | Artonic
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If you’re creating a website for your business, you’ll probably encounter a few terms you weren’t aware of. One term may be Custom Website. If you’ve spent time researching website design, you’ve probably seen this term. But do you know what it means? What is a Custom Website Design? Not to worry – check out this comprehensive article for everything you need to know.

what is a custom website design?

Definition of “Custom Website”

When discussing the definition of a custom website, it’s important to note that the word customize, when used to describe something, only means that that thing is modified in some way.

Custom: made or done to order for a particular customer.

Customize: modify (something) to suit a particular individual or task.

What this means – and why it’s important – is because you may define “custom website” one way while your website design agency may define it as something else.

What Is a Custom Website Design?

When you ask, “What is a custom website design?” – the answer you get depends on who answers your question.

Some website design agencies consider a custom web design to be anything that’s been modified, including a template. Other website design agencies may heavily modify a template and call that “custom website design.” On the other end of the spectrum are those agencies that consider “custom web design” to be completely unique. Artonic is a completely custom website design agency; we don’t use templates or themes to build your website.

template websites
Website templates are very similar to one another.

Does Your Web Agency Create Custom Designs?

“Unfortunately, what many people do not realize is that some companies who advertise custom web design are actually purchasing a series of pre-design[ed] templates from a repository and only customizing a bare minimum, such as inserting your logo, changing a background color, and moving a few links around. In reality, this is not truly “custom”. It is just slightly personalized – similar to having the same keychain everyone else has engraved with your initials.” – Jacqueline Sinex, Managing Director, WEBii

That’s right – your web agency may claim to build “custom websites” when they’re really only modifying templates. Don’t be fooled into paying for a custom website design when you’re really only getting a modified template.

Question Your Web Design Agency

We mention the definition of “custom” to show how vague it is. When you seek out custom website design services, be aware of what you’re asking for.

Be sure to question how the website is built. Is a template used for the design?

Custom Or DIY Website Design?

If you’re a business owner who wants a website, how do you choose between a custom website or a template website?

It may seem like an easy choice if you only consider up-front costs – a template website is cheaper than a true custom website design.


Ah, yes, of course there’s a but! The up-front cost is not the only cost you need to worry about. In fact, it’s just a tiny piece of the puzzle.

Here are a few items to consider:

  1. What’s my budget?
  2. What’s my time frame?
  3. How much time do I have to invest into the web design project?
  4. How much competition do I face online?


How much money can you afford to spend on a website design? If you want, write down a price range from bare minimum to the absolute limit. Not sure what a website costs? Here are a few resources for you to check out:

How Much Does a Website Cost? – Breaking Business Podcast

Why Does a Website Design Cost so Much?

Website Cost Breakdown Infographic

Time Frame

Do you have a specific date in mind for the launch of your website? If you do, what is the reason for this date? Do you have flexibility on this date or is it urgent?

Template websites are easier to get online quickly, especially if you modify the template very little. A custom website design, however, will take longer to get online due to the amount of customization.

Time Investment

When considering whether to invest in a custom web design or use a template for your design, ask yourself how much time you can afford to invest into the project.

This is important because a template website will require more of your time than a custom website design will.

“Designing a website is often much more work than people realize, and it can get complicated quickly.” – . Marc Avila, Media Web

“To maintain or build the website yourself you are going to have to invest some time (and money possibly) into learning all there is to building a web page.” – Accrete Web Solutions (Web Page Mistakes)


What is your competition doing online? Is your online space crowded? Will it take a lot to stand out? Or is your industry underrepresented online?

If your customers compare your website to your competitors’ websites, what will they think? Will your website stand out from the competition (in a good way)?

Here are a few more items to think about:


Who is your target audience? Do they research services or shop online? If they do, what other online stores or business websites might they visit when deciding whether to make an online purchase?

Why is this important?

(1) Your audience expects a certain level of functionality and attractiveness when browsing business websites online. If your competitors have completely custom website designs, your audience will most likely expect you to also have a custom web design.

(2) If your target audience includes anyone under 40, it’s likely that they are familiar and comfortable with computers and technology. This is important to note because the younger your audience, the higher the standard is for website design and functionality.


Functionality refers to the things you need (or want) your website to do. Do you need specialized functionality? A backend for employees? A membership system for customers? These items fall under website functionality.

When creating a new site using a template, you are on your own making all of the decisions. Professional designers and developers know the ins and outs of website functionality and can help you choose the best options for your site that will help optimize it for your business’s needs.” – Inverse Paradox

Functionality is part of clarifying your website scope to stay within budget and launch on time.

Brand Strength

Your brand is who you are to your clients. It’s how your business is perceived by those who matter most: the people who buy your services or products.

The question is, “How strong do you want your brand to appear online?”

What this means is, how important is your business brand to your customers? The more important your brand is, the more likely you’ll need a custom web design.

“When deciding if a custom web design is the way to go or if a website template is a better choice keep in mind that you want your business to stand out from the crowd and be memorable.” – Accrete Web Solutions (Web Page Mistakes)


Because templates are, well, templates. They’re designed to be quick and easy, and in the process, they lose the uniqueness of branding. It’s a trade off.

Website Strategy

Your on-going website strategy should be considered during your research. How will you get visitors to your website? And, once a visitor lands on your website, what will her first impression be?

“Websites creating lasting impressions can be one of the most important business assets you own. Templates may seem like a convenient and easy way to create a site for your company but in the long-run, a custom built site is more cost effective and the right choice for your business to make you stand out from the crowd.” – Inverse Paradox

Do I Need a Custom Website?

Here’s how to answer that question:

  1. Do you require special functionality on your website?
  2. Is your brand vital to your online image?
  3. Do your competitors have strong online presences?
  4. Will I struggle to find time to plan and develop my website?
  5. Is my target audience technically and aesthetically savvy?

If you find yourself answering “yes” to more than one or two of the questions above, you may want to consider a custom website design.

A custom website design agency allows the time for busy business owners or marketing executives to focus on what they do best – growing their companies. That’s what a true custom web agency, like Artonic, does.

Be Successful Online

Check out our e-book, The Path to Website Success. In it, we share the basics about how to be successful online.

Say Hello!

Give Artonic a call or e-mail us if you’re interested in website design, development, or marketing.


[email protected]

Michigan, USA


Avila, Marc. “Template Website Design vs. Custom Website Design.” 3 Media Web Solutions, Inc., 3 Media Web Solutions, Inc., 18 Jan. 2018, www.3mediaweb.com/template-website-design-vs-custom-website-design-whats-the-difference/.

“The Pros and Cons: Customized Websites vs Templates.” Inverse Paradox, 29 Apr. 2014, www.inverseparadox.com/2014/04/pros-cons-customized-websites-vs-templates/.

Sinex, Jacqueline. “What Is Custom Web Design? – WEBii.” Web Marketing & Web Development Company Blog – WEBii, Https://Www.webii.net/, 25 May 2011, www.webii.net/blog/2011/03/what-is-custom-web-design/.

“Custom Web Design vs Website Templates Web Page Mistakes.” Web Page Mistakes, www.webpagemistakes.ca/custom-web-design-website-templates/.