What Is the True Definition of a “Custom Web Design”?

By Lucas Arnatt, Web Designer

You’ll see this phrase all over the Internet when searching for Web site development, whether in Calgary or around the world, the term “custom” web design has itself become incredibly diluted in its meaning. While I don’t like to be pedantic with words, advertising can quickly gloss over a true meaning of a word by hoping that its target audience doesn’t fully understand the term’s definition, or the context of the term. If you go to a popular search engine and type in “Custom Web Design” you will see paid ads on the side that say things like:

Free Web Design & Hosting
30 Day Free Trial! Custom Website
Design & Hosting For $6.99 a Month.

This sounds like a good deal, right? “Free Web Design & Hosting” – Of course, they actually contradict themselves on the third line when the “Design & Hosting” now suddenly cost $6.99 a month! Hmmm…Can a trial actually be seen as free if there is a cost associated with the actual product? So “Free” actually means “on loan” or perhaps they mean that you don’t get charged extra for their website templates that you build your site with because they are included in the package price?

But I digress, my main point with this ad is the use of “Custom Website Design” in the ad copy and the question is, is this actually true? I would have to say no, that this is not a proper use of the term “Custom Web Design.” Why? Because they are using design templates that you can “customize” – which is different than an actual custom design that is started from scratch. Sure, you can change pictures in pre-coded spots, maybe change colours and positions, but in the end the design is a prefab template – this is NOT custom design, it is customized design.

Now, customization in Web development is extremely useful, it allows for fast, semi-automatic development where the majority of code is reused across a wide platform of applications. It streamlines the process and also makes security updates and coding/database upgrades a lot easier since the sites share the same code and database structure. This is the major advantage and reason for the large variance in Web site prices online since, for those willing to use template designs, they can make the process user friendly and basically automatic for ANYONE to use…and provide this service at an extremely low price. However, be aware that there could be dozens or hundreds of other companies using the SAME template that you’re using, which in the end, could well damage your image and not promote it.

For those who create a definitive custom design, their Web design process start with a blank page and a strong connection with their client’s vision and needs. Sure there is overlap with how these needs are satisfied, as there is also need to keep to certain, proven conventions in design that ensure proper navigation, logo presentation and content layout and promotion. But the goal of the custom Web designer is to create a unique, one-off design that will stand out from template designs and designs that do not satisfy or adhere to the needs of design conventions, nor capture the client’s perspective.

The best Web designer/developer will be able to balance between the customized world of coding and the custom world of design. This ensures a fast, manageable turnaround time in the development of the code and database (if necessary) and the integration of a design that is compliant with Web standards, is built for Search Engine Optimization and is unique in its graphic layout.

If you are looking for a custom Web site design in Calgary, Cochrane or anywhere else in the world, make sure you are getting a unique design by asking your Web designer if the design is based on a template or if they build from scratch. Take a look through their portfolio and see if their work shows variety, improvisation and innovation while simultaneously providing consideration for proper navigation, content flow and effective use of branding.

To get your custom Web design built in Cochrane & Calgary Alberta, just call or email Lucas Arnatt at BlindDrop Design Inc. We can provide full Web development services including a unique design tailored to your vision and brand. We also provide a Web Design Template Package that gives your programmer a custom template file for your project.