What makes a custom website custom

When the time comes to design or redesign a website, there is a choice to be made. Should I design and build something from scratch (custom) or should I use a predesigned template or theme? Or, should I try to do something in the middle, like customize an existing theme?

The decision comes down to time, cost, functionality, and brand identity.


Depending on the location, skills, experience, and employment of the web designer, hourly rates could range from $15 to $150. Depending on whether you know exactly what you want or not, the amount of time that it takes to present designs and iterate could range from a few hours to a few weeks.

So, a custom web design, depending on your standards, could cost as little as a few hundred dollars to as much as $50,000 dollars. This is just for the design, not the coding or implementation or hosting or content migration. *We have designed websites for as little as $2,500 and as much as $100,000.

When it comes to coding, the cost also depends on the simplicity or complexity of the site, whether his has to look as good on mobile devices as it does on desktop devices, whether it needs to be accessible to people with physical disabilities, and what type of specifical effects, features, or functionality that may be required.

Developing a website, the actual coding, implementation, and execution typically costs no less than two to three thousand dollars ($2,000-$3,000) to as much as five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000).

Custom websites are not cheap.

Brand Identity

One of the primary reasons why people choose custom design over template options is because they want something that looks unique, highly professional, and very tidy. Sometimes with template-driven websites, your content doesn’t exactly fit right in the pre-designed theme. Often, small businesses and medical practices operating in a high density area want to ensure that their brand stands out so there is no confusion from customers and patients.

But here is the truth…

When a client comes to us seeking a custom website, we will often try to understand their style and tastes by asking them what other websites out there appeal to you? Show me websites that you like. Tell me exactly what it is about those websites that appeal to you. Show me what you don’t like and want to avoid.

In the end, we take inspiration from other websites as we design theirs. In reality, transparency, and total truthfulness, almost every website we “custom” design is based on and inspired by other websites that already exist.

Not only that, there is something called conventions and standards that must be followed if you want your website visitors to have a positive user experience and find what they want to find or do what they want to do.

People expect the logo to be where the logo belongs. They expect the navbar (website menu) to be where the navbar belongs. They expect the contact information to be where the contact information belongs. People expect a header at the top, a footer at the bottom, and content in the middle. People expect information “about” the organization on the other side of an “about us” click.

Moreover, for a website to look good on a mobile device, you must follow certain technical standards and conventions. Buttons need to be large enough for people to touch them on their mobile device. Words and images need to be large enough to be seen on a mobile device.

The bottom line is that there is a limit to how creative and distinctive a custom website can actually be.


Custom websites also take time. Depending on the capacity of the web agency, how many teams they have, how many customers they have, and how simple or complex the website, it could take days, weeks, or even months to design and develop a website. Also, designing a custom website requires decisions from you, the website owner. So, you must be available to answer questions and if not, then the project is stalled or delayed.

Custom vs Template

The alternative to custom web design would be a template. Of course, the problems with a template design is that two websites with the same template “could” look exactly the same. Another problem is that your content may not exactly fit right in a rigid, pre-designed template. Also, there may simply be limitations on a template that could be frustrating because you can’t do what you might want to do.

But, templates can be quite a bit cheaper and faster to deliver. One can stand up a template-driven website in a matter of hours or days for hundreds of dollars rather then tens of thousands of dollars.

What do website visitors want?

Less and less do people search for and find dentists by performing a Google search. So, while your website does need to be search engine optimized to show up on Google, that is not as important as it used to be. More likely, website visitors to learn about you by searching Google Maps, a directory provided by their insurance company, a reference from a friend, or perhaps a sign outside your building.

So, when people go to your website, it is likely for one of five reasons:

  1. They need to get directions to your office
  2. They need the phone number to your office
  3. They need to know your office hours
  4. They need to know your services and specialties
  5. They need to know if you take their insurance

These are the 5 reasons why people are visiting your website. And, they may be on a mobile device, so people need to get answers to these five questions as easily on a smart phone as they would on a laptop or desktop computer.

What is really important?

Here is the bottom line…

The things that really distinguish one website from another is about the same as what distinguishes one dental practice from another, namely, the people, the logo, the telephone, the address, the pictures, and the culture.

Having designed and built websites for hundreds of clients ranging from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand dollars, we believe that it simply is not worth the time and money to build a custom website.

We believe that what you should be looking for in a new website and web designer is the ability to personalize that website to reflect the brand and culture of your dental practice. This means that you need the ability to:

  • Upload your own logo to brand the website
  • Change the color palette to reflect the colors of your brand
  • Upload photos that are unique and distinctive
  • Personalize the messaging and welcome text
  • Change the phone number, address, and contact information
  • Share your social media profiles
  • Move around and rearrange the content on a web page
  • Customize the appearance

A plug for Denti.net

We have studied, literally, thousands of dental websites to identify what elements do they all have in common. We have ranked thousands of websites to understand what makes a dental website really special, beautiful, and effective. We have studied the information architectures and navigation systems that work versus those that don’t. We have performed user centered design (UCD) to segment your various target audience groups and understand exactly what they need.

We have engineered a website management platform, called Denti.net, that allows us to stand up beautiful, modern, responsive, customizable websites faster and cheaper than anybody else on the market. Our websites are secure, mobile-friendly, search engine-friendly, and social media friendly.

Sign up for your free trial. There are no contracts and it is as easy to pack up your marbles and leave as it is to come on board.

Contact Us

Call for FREE consultation: +1 (202) 660-2940