Understanding custom website development. Is it right for you?

If DIY website builders aren’t cutting it, a custom solution built with your specific needs in mind might be just what you’re after.

Dan Spratling sitting in a bar window with a drink, smiling

Dan Spratling

Is custom web development right for you?


Feb 5, 2023

Last Edited

Oct 19, 2023

Read Time

5 mins



Everybody needs a website, from international businesses to everyday bloggers. You want people to be able to find you online, and that means you need a website.

Thankfully, websites are now easier to create than ever.

Solutions like Wix or Squarespace don’t even require developers. But, many businesses still choose to build entirely custom websites despite their increased complexity.

And that’s often with good reason.

In this article, we’ll discuss where custom web development and design is beneficial, why businesses choose custom solutions, and how you can get started.

Understanding custom web development

So, what exactly is a custom website?

Custom websites are websites that have been built from scratch. They’re created with custom designs and then coded by developers.

These custom sites can be built to achieve any kind of website, from blogs to marketing sites to eCommerce stores. There’s no restriction to how large (or small) your custom site is, but there are many reasons why you might go custom which we’ll get to in a minute.

Custom websites are sometimes referred to as bespoke websites (just in case we weren’t on the same page yet).

Solutions like Squarespace, Wix, and Webflow aren’t custom websites in this sense, as they only allow you to customise design, but do not give you full control over how your site is built.

So custom websites are websites where you directly edit the code.

“But if platforms provide you with the ability to create websites without editing code, why would you choose to make things more complex?”, I hear you ask.

Good question!

Let’s talk about that…

Why would you need a custom website?

There are lots of reasons why many businesses to this day still choose to create their own custom websites powered by code.

It may be more effort to set up than a done-for-you solution, and yet it’s still highly sought after.

But why?

It’s unique to you

Custom websites are built to your exact requirements. If you need to implement a design that’s unique to your brand or a solution that perfectly fits your customer’s journey then custom code is the only way to go.

And as your business grows, the chances that you’ll need (or want) some kind of customisation are also higher — and that’s because the alternative, building with templates, can be very restrictive.

Templates are designed to be easily replicated. That makes it difficult to customise the experience and in turn, prevents your website from standing out from the crowd.

So it makes sense that many businesses turn to custom solutions to get exactly what they need.

And by going custom your business gets a unique brand, a personalised user experience, and the exact development solution that perfectly solves your problem.

On that note…

It perfectly fits your needs

I realise this is very similar to our last point, but I think it deserves its own discussion.

By creating a custom website, you aren’t just getting custom design or custom code.

You’re getting the perfect solution to the problem you’re trying to solve.

Stripe solved online payments by building a custom solution that allows vendors to receive payments from customers across the world, making online payment significantly easier for online merchants and B2B services.

And you might be in a similar situation where you see a gap in the market with a technical problem to solve. That will almost certainly need custom development to solve.

But even if your business isn’t solving a new problem, it might still benefit from working with custom software.

I’ve talked about the benefits of headless web development before, and a lot of that discussion applies here so go check that article out.

In short, as your business grows, the more complex your needs will become and the greater benefit you’ll get from using dedicated custom solutions.

And what that looks like for you will likely be different to how it looks for others.

Future-proof your business

Custom website development allows you to be much more flexible with your project.

Your business is going to grow and your needs are going to change and, with that, your technology requirements will change too.

By choosing an inflexible solution, like a template, as your needs grow you’ll find that you’re either adding awkward and often problematic solutions or just completely blocked from adding what you need to your website.

I see many businesses struggle with this.

These restrictions lead to short-term decisions that cause the business website to become backed into a corner, which then requires an incredibly slow and expensive rewrite.

Custom solutions are more complex, but this is because they give you more flexibility in the long term, and the ability to slowly add elements to your business as it needs them.

In short, your business will be far more future-proofed if you choose custom web dev design.

Simpler in the long term

Another benefit of planning for the future is that you can visualise where your business is going even if you don’t know exactly how all the pieces fit into place.

That means when the time comes time to add a new technology, tool, or software solution you’ll be in a better position to pick the right one.

And picking the right solutions is essential.

When you start to get into more complicated architectures, going custom will, more often than not, simplify your solution while affording you much more customisation and flexibility.

Solutions that grow without considering the future build up technical debt that will need to be fixed eventually, or it can be extremely costly and restrictive for the business.

By building to your specific needs, you can cut out everything you don’t need (or even better, never include it in the first place), making your website significantly more maintainable long term.

Better for your team, and better for your users.

But what are the drawbacks?

Of course, creating custom websites isn’t perfect for every business or even specific phases of your business’s growth.

So, what should you be aware of when creating custom sites?

It’s more expensive

As you can gather from above, a lot of the solutions mentioned account for thinking of custom solutions.

That means a lot of time spent strategising and finding the solutions that work best for your business, rather than what sells well on a template.

Hiring people who can solve (or even find) problems unique to your business is always going to be more expensive than purchasing a generalised solution.

You can get a website up and running for $50 or less - and that might be right for your business, maybe if you’re just starting out.

New businesses need to get any online presence. Perfection can come later.

But for more established businesses the cost is often worth the investment.

Because that’s exactly what it is. An investment into creating the best solution for your customers and your team that should give you more returns than you put in.

It’s slower to create

Getting started with custom web development is going to be harder than utilising something that someone has already put together for you.

Purchasing a template will get you up and running fast because somebody has already put in the effort to get a generalised solution working up front, and then sold that.

If you’re creating a totally custom solution, you’re going to be doing a lot of thinking before you even start creating designs or writing code.

  • Where is your current site failing?

  • What are your user journeys?

  • How are your customers engaging?

  • Where can you improve that?

You get my point. You need to get answers to make sure you’re working in the right direction.

And then creating custom designs and writing custom code will take time too.

Because building a website is a never-ending process.

To get the best results, you want to keep iterating, updating, and growing.

So to get the best solution for your business, sometimes it makes sense to go a little slower to make sure you get it right.

The tortoise, not the hare.

Rounding up

The best solution will depend entirely on your business and needs.

Custom websites will unlock a lot of growth potential for many businesses, but they’re not required for every business.

As a general rule, the bigger your business, the wider your reach, and the more complex your technical needs the more likely you’ll need a custom website.

But while budget and time restraints can be restrictive in the short term, in the long term the investment will be worth it.

Need help deciding if custom website design and development is right for you? Let’s talk!

Get in touch and we can help you understand if a custom website is right for you, and help you build it.

When you're ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

1. SkywardUI (coming soon) - Speed up your development with a fully customisable UI library. Start with a strong foundation and adapt it to your needs without reinventing the wheel.

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3. Hire Skyward - Bring your project ideas to life. Hire the Skyward team to drive forward the user experience of your websites & applications, and futureproof your software

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