Professional web design versus custom web design – the distinction was eloquently made in a recent blog post by website optimization expert Ben Hunt (I love the way this guy writes!).
Ben’s advice is never to reinvent the wheel – unless the wheel doesn’t work.
Here’s why, in his own words.
Things that are done for the first time are more likely to fail than things that are tried and tested.When you use a system like WordPress or Shopify, you get the benefit of a system that has had literally years of design and development invested – possibly decades of effort!
With a hosted system, you can get a website up and running almost immediately, without the thousands of dollars of custom design and coding you would need with an old-style model.
You can be confident that it will be reliable. You can be confident that it has been tested thoroughly. And you know that you will benefit from continual improvements, along with all the other customers using the system.
You get none of those benefits with a custom-built system – you have to pay for everything.
The flip side is that you may need to pay a monthly fee… that’s fair, because they are providing an excellent service.
So we should always use best practice, use conventions, use what works (when it works). And for me, in almost every case, that means using hosted systems, existing platforms, themes, plugins, and widgets wherever possible.
This is one of the best answers I’ve ever seen to the question of whether or not to design a completely custom site or start with a theme/template. A professional, modern web designer understands the pros and cons, knows when to make exceptions, and can identify high quality platforms, themes etc.