Would you like your Website with the menu across the top or down the side?

Ok I am being a little sarcastic here but I was a partner at a design studio for many years before focusing on Web support and maintenance at FatLab. During that time we sold, what I thought was pretty (very) good, custom designs. No templates, commercial boilerplates but rather  a design that we felt represented the client and their messaging. In ‘Web years’ this was a long long time ago and predated the mass marketing of WordPress templates and services like Squarespace, etc. Though I no longer work a lot on the side of original Web design, I can’t help but feel we have come a long ways from the days where custom designs where part of the Web launch process.

You Think $100 is Expensive?!

Today, picking a design often starts with a Google search for templates. ‘Free templates’ is a typical starting point and then $25 templates then $50 templates, if we get close to $100 that is ‘expensive’… we started our design service at $2,500 back at the design studio all those years ago.

But Really What is Left to Design?

A set color palate, a menu (typically across the top or on the side), an image slider, social media integration and an interior template and your done, right? You very well could be and with thousands upon thousands of free and commercial templates that cover these bases (and much more), is there any reason to hire a designer for a full custom design anymore?

So What is the Trend?

Modify a Commercial Template

What I am seeing more and more is that when all that is being focused on is a Website (versus a full branding exercise), many companies are opting to purchase a commercial theme and simply having it modified to meet their color scheme and other minor layout modifications.

Create a Custom Design Based on a Commercial Template

I think some organizations like the idea of having something that is truly unique represent their brand. However to save money, they opt to hire a Web designer to create a unique design based on the layout of a commercial template. This saves development time as well as allows the designer to focus on a limited layout. I am personally seeing this approach being very popular amongst mid-size organizations.

You Can Still Hire a Web Designer for a Truly Custom Design

The current trend that I am seeing is that larger organizations with larger marketing budgets are still going through full custom design phases with their Web projects. I also see original design still being a larger focus when the exercise is one of branding versus just a Website. Granted a Website is a representation of a brand, but I think organizations often just assume the brand is represented (I’ll leave this topic for another blog post).

Regardless, the number of truly original designs being used now days seems to be diminishing. I’m sure it is combination of technology and economy that is driving this trend but it’s interesting watch.