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Template, Semi-Custom, or Custom Website: Which Option is Right for Your Business?

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A good website is arguably your business’ most valuable asset- it’s where people go to find you online, learn more about you/your services, and ultimately decide whether to become a customer or not. Having a beautiful website that also works like a well-oiled machine really helps your brand stand out in the sea of sameness, too. That’s why it’s so important to get it right. Whether you’re a new photographer just getting started in the industry, or a seasoned entrepreneur who’s been honing their craft for years, settling for a boring, poorly functioning website is never a good idea.

But with countless website design options out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Do you go for a DIY template, a done for you template customization, or invest in fully custom design? The answer depends on your specific business needs, goals, and budget

I’m a website designer, so I get it — creating and launching a new site can be a completely overwhelming experience. Today, I’m giving you the lowdown on DIY templates, semi-custom sites, and fully custom website design. I’ll tell you the good, the bad, and the must-know for each option, so you can decide which one is right for your creative business. Let’s get into it! 

Showit Website Templates

Website templates are pre-designed websites that can be easily customized with your branding, photos, copy, fonts and colors. Typically, this option is a DIY solution where you build and maintain the website all on your own. Or, you can hire a pro (see our Website in a Week option below!) to do it for you. 

There are thousands of templates out there, so you’ll likely be able to find one that fits the vibe you’re going for. However, depending on the platform, you may have limited options for customization, future expansion, blogging and/or SEO capabilities. This is why I love Showit. Its drag and drop interface is so easy to use, even if you’re the least tech-savvy person on earth! Another perk? Custom mobile design so you can ensure there are no funky looking pages when viewing your site on a phone. Plus, blogs are powered by WordPress — the most popular blogging platform on the internet! 

Our Showit template shop offers a range of affordable, pre-designed Showit templates for photographers and creatives who want to have a strategically designed, stunning website without breaking the bank or spending too much time on the design process. These beauties are designed with photographers/creatives in mind and are built to convert your dreamiest of clients. You can also check out some of our tried and true template shop recommendations here if none of our templates are what you’re looking for!


  • Most affordable option
  • You can launch a website quickly
  • Tons of styles to choose from
  • Total design control


  • Not tailored to your specific business
  • Can look like other websites if not customized enough
  • May not be set up for SEO correctly

Custom Website Design

Custom website design is the process of having a designer build a website entirely from scratch, tailored exactly to your business’ needs. You’ll provide your designer with details about your vision for the website, including the overall look/feel, desired features, and functionality requirements. If you aren’t sure about any of this- that’s totally fine, too. Your designer should be able to work with you to help uncover your vision and identify your unique website needs.

If you’ve been in the game awhile, have a solid grip on your offers (and the budget to match!), and a vision for the future… it may be time to invest in custom website design. Not only will it help you stand out in a saturated market, but it can work wonders for your business long-term. 

With a custom website, designers will work on every single element, section, and page to ensure that they align perfectly with your specific goals and brand identity. Another important note is that custom sites generally take weeks (or sometimes even months) to complete, depending on the complexity of the site.

The end result is a website that fits your brand + business perfectly, and also acts as a 24/7 sales tool that attracts aligned clients. You can learn more about our custom website design services here.


  • Completely tailored to your business needs
  • Designed with flexibility/growth in mind
  • Offers unique website features
  • Provides an enhanced user experience
  • Has long-term payoff potential


  • Requires a bigger budget
  • It takes more time to design and develop
  • More input needed from you

Website in a Week (Semi-Custom/Template Customization)

Semi-custom website design is the best of both worlds: it’s more affordable than a fully custom website, but still offers unique custom elements that help make a template feel more your own. If you want a professional, polished online presence but aren’t ready to take the plunge on a fully custom website, semi-custom might be the perfect fit for you.

With our Website in a Week Showit template customization service, you’ll start by choosing a pre-designed template that fits your brand’s aesthetic and goals. You can purchase your own template from elsewhere, or choose one from our Website in a Week template library at no additional cost. From there, the template will be customized to fit your unique business- everything from the branding and photos to colors, fonts and copy. While not every single element is created from scratch like a custom website, this option still allows for some flexibility and personalization. It’s a great balance between cost and customization!

Not every website designer offers a service like this, but Website in a Week is one of our most popular offers. Check out some of the magic we can create together in just one week! 


  • Custom looking website without the custom price tag
  • Fast turnaround time
  • Designed for ease and requires little expertise to manage/update


  • Not made from scratch for your specific business
  • Limited customizations (the shortened timeline means we have to put a cap on how much customization we can offer within the week)

So, which is best for your business?

All three website options have their pros/cons, so which is right for you? Ultimately, it comes to these three considerations: time, level of customization, and budget. Think about where you’re currently at in business and what kind of online presence you want to create, and weigh the pros/cons of each.

If you’re looking to launch quickly, a DIY template or semi-custom service will be your best friend. When it comes to ease of use and customizability, a website on a platform like Showit is the way to go. Your budget will also determine which website design option is best for you. If you have a budget of $1000 or less, start with a template. For budgets of $2-3k, semi-custom is a great option. And for those willing to invest more, a fully custom website will bring your business (and confidence) to a whole new level.

Still not sure which option is right for you?

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