Bespoke Website Development: What Does it Actually Mean?

Bespoke Website Development & Design

10 Jun 2022

Jonathan Ward

We often get asked exactly what bespoke website design is, what the benefits are compared to a less expensive off-the-shelf theme, or which type to choose. In this post, we will look at the differences between the available options for website development.

Your website is often the first impression people have of your company, so it’s crucial to get it right. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression! Who are you? What do you offer? What makes you different from the competition? Your business’s website is a gateway to answering these types of questions. As well as driving traffic, generating leads, and establishing a brand identity. Therefore, having a solid presence is crucial for lead generation and overall business growth.

Off-The-Shelf Web Design vs Bespoke Web Design

We often get asked exactly what bespoke website design is. What are the benefits compared to a less expensive off-the-shelf theme, or which type to choose.

There really is no right or wrong answer to what’s best; it’s more about your business and how fundamental your website is to your operation, growth, and success.

In this post, we will look at the differences between the available options for website development. Off-the-shelf or an ‘out of the box’ solution versus a bespoke, tailor-made solution.

What Is An Off-The-Shelf Solution Website?

An off-the-shelf solution involves purchasing a pre-built template with some ability to customise. It allows you to drag and drop elements onto pre-built pages. The user can create a simple site with basic functionality and the ability to add plugins for extra costs. They conform to strict quality control standards to ensure they operate as intended with excellent levels of security, functionality, and design. This type of solution is usually aimed at start-ups with little to no budget.

At first glance, these types of solutions may seem more cost-effective than a bespoke website. However, with a pre-made solution comes limitations, hidden fees and in the long run may prove ineffective.

The Limitations Of An Off-The-Shelf Solution:

  • Restricted Design Flexibility – Although a lot of modern themes allow you to make customisations after installation such as changing colours, fonts, images, and adding your own logo, these adjustments are still based on a structured template. This means you are still confined to the limited flexibility of a pre-exciting template. This makes it very difficult for you to be truly creative and unique.
  • Generic – Even with extensive customisation, the templates and themes are likely to be used by thousands of other users. It can be a challenge to set yourself apart from your competition and be distinctive.
  • Not Business-Orientated – A website template, like any template or guide, is a generic entity. By its own nature it is not tailored to your specific requirements. They are designed for the majority. This means you will need to make certain compromises because there is every chance the template you choose does do everything you would like it to.
  • Short Shelf Life – As your business and website requirements grow, you may find the same template that got you up and running and online in a matter of minutes now serves as a hurdle when attempting to get new content or functionality online. It’s inevitable that you will outgrow your initial template/theme and you will either need to find a new one or consider the bespoke website route.
  • Less Secure – The popularity of some of the off-the-shelf solutions means that they are at a greater chance of being targeted by hackers. You can, of course, ramp up the security of these websites using plugins and add-ons, (which could incur additional costs) but the threat remains.

It is worth noting that sometimes a template website is all a company needs. The three big reasons you might want to consider a template website over a bespoke design are:

Time – Templates require a lot less work and a lot less time. They are much faster to get u and running.

Money – If you have got a restricted budget, a template design, or off-the-shelf solutions can keep the price to a minimum.

Simplicity – If you don’t really need to generate visitors or sales through your website and you are just looking to tick the box for ‘online presence, then maybe a bespoke website isn’t a worthwhile investment for you.

But, if you are expecting your website to play a significant role in your digital marketing strategy, to attract new customers, convert more visitors or improve your reputation, then a bespoke website would be the way forward.

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What Is Bespoke Website Design?

In a nutshell, a bespoke website is a wholly unique website, one which is designed and built from the ground up specifically for you and your business needs. No using templates or existing designs. A bespoke site requires more investment in terms of time and money, but a bespoke website means you retain 100% control of the website’s look and feel’, the way it addresses customer needs and how it engages target audiences to act.

A bespoke site is 100% tailored around your brand, your customers, and your goals, thus giving you a competitive edge!

Advantages Of a Bespoke Website Solution

If you’re not fully convinced, let’s go over a few advantages of commissioning a bespoke site.

One-Of-A-Kind To Your Business

The most obvious reason to have a bespoke website is that you can customise the look and feel of your website without limitations. The website is created from a defined brief and project specification which means the end product is built specifically to meet your business goals and requirements.

Cyber Security

Bespoke websites are usually more secure. Because the code is written by the developers it means they have complete control over what is running on the website. This removes the need for third-party plugins and open-source codes, both of which are favoured by hackers.

SEO & Social Media

A bespoke site can be created with your SEO needs from the very beginning. There is no need for additional plugins or monthly fees (usually). This is because the functionality is all in place from the jump.

Scalability & Extendibility

Custom solutions are built with intent. They are built for purpose, meaning they can grow as your business grows and can also allow for redundancies. In addition, bespoke products allow for much greater flexibility when it comes to adding new designs or functionality. This means you often get a much greater shelf life on custom-made websites.


When your purchase a bespoke development, there is no waste on features that you won’t utilise for your business goals. All development costs ensure you are getting tailored functions and designs to fit your needs. Furthermore, there are no hidden costs, you will know exactly what is included from the get-go. 

Website Design & Development Company

Reach Studios are a bespoke web development agency based in the heart of Sheffield. We provide a tailored approach that is designed to provide solutions that will help your business to grow from strength to strength.

Our websites are crafted for your business needs. Our experienced web development team will focus heavily on your online digital identity, effective user interfaces, optimisation for organic SEO and take into consideration the latest web technologies, languages, and best practices to ensure your website is secure and future-proof.

A custom design website doesn’t mean you are prohibited from using an off-the-shelf CMS or third-party software integration. However, it does mean is that you are free to explore and create bespoke features and functionalities that are specific to you and your business alongside first-rate web design.

We think bespoke websites are often the best approach if you’re looking to use your online presence as a way to improve your business, either through marketing, reputation management or direct sales.

And of course, that extra work requires extra investment, but its one that’s likely to be worth it if your website is going to be an asset to your organisation

Whether you’re looking for a new build, website re-skin or platform, we’ll offer a service that just can’t be replicated with an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution. 

Bespoke Website Design: We Hear From The Experts:

Drawing from his own experiences as a senior developer, our Technical Director, Tom King had this to say:

For me, bespoke development is about meeting needs while maintaining flexibility and identifying if that is in a client’s best interest.

Sometimes an off-the-shelf solution is 100% the right way to go, but when you start having to add plugin after plugin or editing the source code of the product you know you need to think bespoke as that isn’t maintainable long-term. In these situations, bespoke development is far more beneficial in terms of long term cost due to the fact that you don’t have to spend time modifying platforms or plugins for those platforms, but you also save time from the repetition of what comes when an update to said platform or plugin breaks your customisation and you have to redeploy or in a worst-case, start over if the change is significant. On top of that, you also must think of performance. A platform with a bunch of different plugins to achieve the desired outcome will never be as efficient as something built bespoke for its purpose.

I like to think as a responsible Development Agency we do a good job of helping clients make the right decision for them, and it’s why our work receives the recommendations it does. Despite being bespoke development specialists, we are always upfront and will make sure what we put out is the best solution long term.

Thomas King – Technical Director, Reach Studios

Here’s what our Creative Director turned Projects Director; Karl Nuttall had to say on the subject:

From my personal experience of using both ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions and creating completely bespoke solutions, I feel there is much more flexibility and control over having a completely bespoke solution over that of something that isn’t.

That’s not to say that you would never need to use an off-the-shelf solution because something like that would perfectly suit your needs and budget, it’s to be taken on a project-by-project basis. From a front-end point of view, building something completely bespoke gives us, as a creative team, the ability to ‘spread our wings’ from a design perspective and not be held to constraints by pre-built templates and plugins, which is something that does often happen with using an off-the-shelf solution.

In summary, using a custom solution allows us to provide our clients with something that matches their needs exactly, rather than using a pre-built solution which is ‘close enough’.

Karl Nuttall – Projects Director, Reach Studios

Summing Up

Your website is an investment, it is your shop window and first impressions count. It often isn’t ‘one-size-fits-all’.

We are all about finding a solution that meets the needs of your business. We like to be flexible to the needs of the individual business. We spend valuable time getting to know your business and current operations so that we can propose the best solution possible. Second-best is not good enough and we will work hard to ensure that your website exceeds all expectations.

So, do you have a unique project and want to talk to an agency that loves to design bespoke websites? We would love to hear from you! Contact us to plan your next website project.

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