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Custom Design Vs Template Modification

by | May 20, 2015 | For Our Clients, For Our Magento eCommerce Clients

When designing websites there are two main approaches that can be taken in the design phase. These are “Custom Design” and “Template Modification”.

Website Theme 101

A website’s appearance and structure is dictated by the website “theme”. A theme is collection of files and code that makes up a number of unique “page templates”. For each page that is published on a website, a page template is assigned. The page template gives each page its structure and also its look and feel.

On a Magento eCommerce website, the core page templates include:

  • Home
  • Category
  • Product Detail
  • Cart
  • Checkout
  • CMS Page

On a WordPress business website, we might have unique page templates for pages such as:

  • Home
  • Services
  • News/Blog Archive
  • News/Blog Post
  • Contact Us

The obvious point to make regarding a website theme is that it takes considerable time to wireframe, design and code them up.

Custom Design

A custom design process begins with wireframe process to layout the structure of the pages. Then the visual design is applied and Photoshop files (PSD’s) are created, typically one for each page template. Those PSD’s are then used by a developer to code of the theme on the respective CMS’s codebase.

This process affords extreme flexibility in how your web pages look and function. It is however time consuming and therefore costly.

Template Modification

An alternative to a custom design is to use a purchased template (a pre built theme) sold from online shops like this one. Although these themes have their default layout and styles, they can be modified.

In particular the colours and fonts are what we will focus on to convey your company’s branding. These “styles” are defined by the “style sheet”, which includes things likes the font family and sizes, colours, link and menu styles etc.

The essence of template modification is to keep it simple, and really takes much of the design onus off the client, which is more so at the discretion of Curata as the designers/developers. It’s a KIS scenario for sure!

Pro’s and Cons

The pro’s and cons are pretty obvious, but here’s a summary of the main points.

Development ConsiderationsCustom DesignTemplate
UX Flexibility:Unlimited OptionsLimited by the template
Additional Features/Modules:Generally easier to implementPotentially more difficult and $$$ to implement
Future Customisation & Optimisation:Generally easier to implementPotentially more difficult and $$$ to implement
Development Time:LongerQuicker
Branding and Visual Design:ExcellentGood to Very Good
Cost:$$$$

Summary

There is no right or wrong approach here, it is a business decision based around timeline and budget. Each approach is valid but we always advise our client’s to keep in mind the limitations of a template modification design approach.

Build Phase and Content Entry

Build Phase and Content Entry

Site build and content entry is the business end of the website development process. After all of the planning and design, we now build up the site. Signing off on design is the dependency that must be met before me move onto build. In this phase we will: Build...

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