What is bespoke website design?

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.

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.

Bespoke or theme – what’s the difference?

A bespoke website is one that is designed and built for a specific set of users or purpose. This is the opposite of a theme or off-the-shelf website, which is a ready-made design. Website themes are a great way of getting your business online, especially if you’re on a budget, you’re a small business, in a rush, or if you need a portfolio or brochure site. If you’ve noticed lots of websites that look the same in recent years, it’s because they are built using a theme.

Created by talented designers, themes are stylish and generic templates that you can overlay with your brand elements like logo, colours and visuals. They can be downloaded for free, or you can pay for a premium theme if you’d like a slightly higher degree of customisation. With a theme, you know what you’re getting, there’s less development so you don’t need as much technical knowledge and they are great for smaller companies.

The downside? Mainly longevity and performance. In the longer term, as your company grows or changes, themes can be restrictive as they’re tricky to edit or evolve. They also tend to have redundant code: since they’re built to be versatile. This affects load speed and SEO because search engines favour clean code. A theme doesn’t allow for a traditional ‘design’ phase, so it might not accurately reflect you brand. If your developer is working with a simple theme, you should expect to pay anything up to around £5000+ VAT, depending on how much content you have (copywriting, photography, animation or video), the amount of customisation needed, and if you require brand development.

Tailor-made from the ground up

At the other end of the web design spectrum is a bespoke or custom website: tailor-made and crafted for your company from the ground up, with your specific business objectives, features and functions in mind. This requires more investment in terms of time and money, but a bespoke website means you retain 100% control of the website ‘look and feel’, the way it addresses customer needs and how it engages target audiences to take action.

GSAcom is a bespoke WordPress theme for a membership association


The sky’s the limit! 

With a bespoke website, developers take a strategic approach. At Preface Studios, we first conduct a discovery phase of in-depth research to understand what a business and its customers need. We’ll craft our brief by clarifying requirements, talking to key stakeholders, conducting market and competitor research, looking at the existing website analytics and auditing the brand. From this insight, we’re then able to come up with a detailed specification of the design and build and sketch wireframes of the proposed website.

With bespoke build, you get a website that is incredibly simple and stylish; the sky really is the limit. It’s a powerful asset with an intuitive user experience (UX) and an on-brand user interface (UI), specifically designed for your target audience demographic. The form your website takes will vary greatly between projects, for example, awareness building website Epic Minds and industry information portal, GSAcom.


Epic Minds is a bespoke website for NHS Oxford

A little expert advice goes a long way

If your website is an extension of your business, having a bespoke build will be vital to drive enquiries and boost conversions. Another benefit of a completely bespoke approach is that the code is freshly built from the ground up, so every line of code serves a purpose and maximises SEO. This means it’s much quicker to load, more secure and easier to administer and maintain. Whatever option you choose it’s a good idea to speak to an expert first. As a business, it’s easy to see some whizzy functionality on a competitor site, or a free theme, and think that’s what you need. But a little expertise, support and guidance goes a long way to ensuring every penny of development time works to drive traffic and conversions for the short and long-term.

Preface Studios specialises in bespoke website design and build. If you’d like to find out more about how we help companies in Surrey and the surrounding area maximise their online presence, please get in touch – 01252 820022, or fill in our

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