I am sleek, modern, and customized.

If a basic website is a twin of other websites that use the same template, I’m a cousin. I’m recognizable if you know my family and might sometimes even look close enough to be a sibling, but I’m my own site, too.

Find out more.

This is an advanced, customized website…

Like a basic website, my creator started with a premade template. If a basic website is a prefab house, I’m one with custom siding and maybe a garage.

That means my creator started with the exact same construction as the basic site, then additions were made to produce me. What can be added and how easily it can be added depends very much on whatever template is used as my foundation.

For example, my starting template made it easy to adjust the main background and round those edges. The navigation at the top of the page, though, was set up in such a way that those adjustments alone took about as long if not longer than adjusting everything else combined.

The template was close enough to what my creator wanted—or good enough to work—that adjusting the template would be enough to get her there. If I’m done properly, the customization will be installed by first installing the root template, then adding extra code to override the items that are tweaked. This keeps the tweaks from being destroyed when the underlying template gets updated.

Upsides:

  • I’m in a standard format. My structure and foundation is nothing unusual.
  • I can complement your branding. You can incorporate elements from your logo, or your favorite color, or your flag.
  • I’m popular. Many people use prebuilt templates for their websites, so a lot of developers know how to work with them or even specialize in working with them.
  • I’m flexible. You don’t have to find or create a template that matches your design exactly. You just have to find one close, then tweak it or have it tweaked.
  • I’m adjustable. If done right, I can still be tweaked as site needs shift or you decide you want a different blue.
  • I can be affordable. The bulk of the work is in the premade template. Extras have just been added to that.

Downsides:

  • I’m dependent on my template. This applies to what I look like, what search engines see, how much I can be expanded, and how likely I am to break in the future.
  • I can be made or murdered by the tweaks. A bad color scheme, junk or badly defined data, poor organization—any and all can damage the site.
  • I’m bloated. This is just a side effect of how I have to be set up, for various techie reasons. This bloating means I can take a tad longer to load than an unmodified template or a pure custom site, but if I’m done right and the Internet connection isn’t unusually limited, that “tad” should only be, like, a few microseconds.
  • I can be expensive. If your list of changes is expansive or significant, you might be making an entirely new template on top of the old one.

A Note on DIY Customization:

Even if you don’t know code, many templates have built-in customization ability, such as with the Customizer in WordPress sites. It can be tempting to find a template with the most customization options possible in your budget, which’ll let you jump in and change whatever, whenever.

Problem: It is very easy to break site accessibility or aesthetics on accident.

Do your colors work for color blind folks? Is your site legible and coherent in a way that means new visitors can easily jump in and enjoy the site content, or does it repel them unless they already know they really want the content?

This is one reason why most templates will have a limited ability to make adjustments, unless a coder makes the change.

If those potential issues don’t concern you, that’s your decision. Just be aware that it can be a problem.

Cost for an Advanced Website

This will be the moderate form of web design, setting things up via premade templates that are then adjusted. Depending on the original template and the customizations made, the end result can range from looking like a mild variant of the original theme or looking more unique.

Do It Yourself

Free to $500+ USD / 5–100 hours

You find templates and add-ons and install them, yourself. You then figure out how to adjust it all yourself, learning what code from a good tutorial.

How long it takes will depend very much on your web host, how computer-savvy you are, how much you already know about websites, and if you find walkthroughs that suit your specific situation. Some people also find it easier to buy books or classes.

If you need a general idea of what web languages do:
  • HTML: Tell your web browser what things in your page are.
  • CSS: Tell your web browser what things in your page look like.
  • JavaScript: Tell your web browser what to do with or change in what’s in the page.
  • PHP: Your site does some stuff, then travels the interwebs to reach a web browser.
  • most other things: Will be a substitute or add-on for one of the above. You might wanna chat with a techie.
Outsource It

$100–1000+ / 1–15 hours (of your time)

You hire someone else to install everything for you.

All time investment on your end will be explaining what it is you want or checking the delivered result. An experienced developer should be able to provide a structure to help you provide the information they need. How long it takes will depend on the organization and communication skills of both parties and how much testing you need or want to do.

If you want a lot of alterations:
There’s a point where it’s actually more expensive to tweak a template than it would be to build a new one. Even before you reach that point, the “bloating” aspect of sites like this will be negatively affecting your site—making it take longer to load, score lower on search engines, and more. Having a lot of images or videos on your site without properly sizing and optimizing them can cause the same problem.
These estimates assume you have no or minimal content to convert, a simple site of some pages and a portfolio and blog, and more than minimal adjustments needed to the theme.
None of these estimates include the price for the domain name or web hosting, which can be found for about $50 per year for usual small site needs.

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Basic Website

This puts everything into premade templates. No or minimal customizations.

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Advanced Website

This takes the premade templates and customizes them. Moderate customizations.

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Artisan Website

This takes your desired design and/or functions and starts there. All customizations.

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