Online Store Templates or Custom Designs – Which Option to Choose?

Online Store Templates or Custom Designs – Which Option to Choose?

Design is one of the key elements of setting up your own online store – it highly affects whether your eCommerce is attractive for users. There are many solutions concerning the store layout. Today, we’ll focus on comparing two of them – an online store template and a custom graphic design. Which option is better? Keep reading!

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Table of contents:

Online store template

In simple words, an online store template is a ready-made, coded layout that can be modified only to a certain extent. Although most of these solutions are paid, it’s possible to find free ones. Due to the nature of numerous store systems, templates are often tailored to individual platforms like Magento or PrestaShop.

A template can serve as a complete layout, however, in this case you aren’t guaranteed that your store design will be unique. When purchasing a given template, it’s possible to adjust certain features or functionalities such as the color of given elements that will help you make your store stand out from the crowd. Currently, the market offers thousands of templates tailored to specific types of online stores or even industries in which they operate.

Advantages of the templates

  • Budget solution

If you don’t want to allocate the vast majority of your budget for graphic design, templates are a perfect solution. They’ll allow you to save a lot of money you’d otherwise have to pay to a professional graphic designer.

  • Wide choice

Templates are a great source of inspiration if you aren’t totally sure what your online store should look like. You can choose from thousands of templates with various layouts, color schemes or complexity levels.

  • Efficient implementation

A ready-made template is an ideal way to quickly start your online store. If you don’t plan to implement numerous modifications in the template code, the deployment and configuration shouldn’t take long, especially if you commission this task to a specialist.

Disadvantages of the templates

  • Limited editing possibilities

When purchasing a template, you have to be aware that it might not be possible to implement all additional functionalities you need. Moreover, certain modifications can cost an arm and a leg. This results from the limited possibilities of editing the template code structure and potential errors that may arise when introducing improvements e.g. in CSS styles.

  • Lack of uniqueness

Templates are usually available to the public. Therefore, everyone who pays or downloads them from free sources can actually obtain them. If you don’t implement any significant changes in the graphic design, colors, fonts or patterns, it’s highly probable that you’ll frequently encounter stores that are immensely similar to your ecommerce.

Custom online store design

If you want to make your store stand out from its market rivals, a custom online store design is the right way to do it. By choosing this option, you get a fully personalized store layout with a range of functionalities perfectly tailored to the requirements of your business. Custom graphic designs are created from scratch by professionals, consequently, you can freely arrange individual elements and select functionalities, colors and fonts that suit you best. The whole process is tailored to your needs and requirements.

Advantages of custom online store designs

  • Uniqueness

A custom online store design guarantees uniqueness which might be difficult to achieve in the case of ready-made templates. You’re limited solely by your imagination and skills of your graphic designer. This solution is particularly recommended if visual aspects of your store are the only elements that can potentially help you outdo your market rivals.

  • Flexibility

Contrary to ready-made templates, custom online store designs allow a full range of project configurations and modifications. Thanks to it, it’s possible to implement various functionalities while maintaining a high quality online store code structure. Moreover, changes and updates can be implemented at any stage, even after your online store is officially launched.

  • Support of designers

When selecting a custom online store design, you can be sure that in case of any problems or questions you aren’t left alone. Both at the stage of designing your store and monitoring its later operation, you can discuss possible solutions and changes with the persons responsible for graphic design and its implementation.

Disadvantages of custom online store designs

  • Price

This is the greatest obstacle to unique graphic design. Unfortunately, custom designs are much more expensive when compared to ready-made templates. Apart from the price of the design, the costs also include the remuneration for the graphic designer which frequently constitutes a large part of the budget. The costs may also increase in direct proportion to the development or advancement of the project, implemented functionalities, new subpages and so on.

  • Implementation time

Graphic design itself significantly prolongs the process of launching an online store, however, the implementation of a custom layout on a selected store platform may even be more time consuming. Very frequently, dedicated solutions require special extensions or modules that need to be developed by the developer team.

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Graphic design vs. store software

The solution you choose isn’t determined solely by the implementation time or financial issues but also by the store system you want to use to develop your online shop. Why? Because every platform addresses different business needs and advocates different solutions. We’ll explain it to you with the use of three popular open source store systems – WooCommerce, PrestaShop and Magento.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a WordPress extension that enables creating online stores based on this popular CMS. As this is only a plugin installed to a content management system, its possibilities to develop the system with more complex functionalities are quite limited. That’s why WooCommerce is recommended for smaller projects or stores that are just beginning their adventure on the market.

The profile of the platform usually makes WooCommerce implementations low-budget solutions, in case of which a custom graphic design isn’t the most important element. That’s why the online world offers thousands of both paid and free WooCommerce templates and it’s worth benefiting from them if you decide to choose this store extension.

woocommerce example of e-commerce
Exemplary use of the WooCommerce template in the catering industry.

PrestaShop

PrestaShop system is much more advanced than WooCommerce and it allows developing small, medium and even big stores. It offers convenient implementation of your own graphic designs and impressive possibilities to modify functionalities with the use of extensions. As the most popular platform for creating ecommerce stores, PrestaShop offers a wide range of ready-made templates that can be tailored to the requirements of individual online stores. However, in case of bigger projects and more competitive industries, it’s worth considering a custom graphic design. Such a store will probably serve you for many years, therefore, investing in unique graphics is much more profitable than in the case of WooCommerce. Nevertheless, both solutions necessitate considerable implementation expenses.

Magento

From all of the abovementioned solutions, Magento is the most expanded platform for creating online stores. It offers great business scaling, configuration and modification possibilities on each stage of the project. Due to such impressive capabilities, Magento is recommended for medium and large projects.

The advancement level of the platform makes the implementation quite expensive. This applies also to the graphic design. If your budget is sufficient enough, it’s worth investing in a custom layout. However, if you aim at minimizing your expenditures, go for Magento graphic templates. The Internet offers a wide range of templates that are tailored to Magento. Later you can adjust them to your requirements with the help of professionals.

magento example of an e-commerce
Exemplary Magento template in the clothing industry

Online store template or custom design – which one to choose?

Both online store templates and custom designs have unquestionable advantages and disadvantages. The final decision you make is determined by numerous factors. The key ones definitely include costs, technical requirements, implementation time and uniqueness of the project.

If you care mainly about minimizing your expenditures or implementing solutions quickly, go for ready made online store templates. On the other hand, if you want to ensure advanced functionalities and unique, one-of-a-kind graphic design, choose a custom online store layout. Take your time to discuss your situation with experts and select a solution that meets your business requirements.

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Author
Jakub Czyż
Jakub Czyż

IT Project Manager at Smartbees

Responsible for project management and customer relations at Smartbees. He is constantly looking for new technology knowledge and sales optimization. Privately an avid motorcyclist and extreme sports fan.
Comments (1)
  1. Thanks for the article – I’m thinking of changing my store’s design and considered using a template. Need to think through all the pros and cons once again now 🙂

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