Free / Low-Code Websites vs Custom Website Design


With the rise of page builders and SaaS integrations; do you still need custom websites? Today, we’re going to explore no-code / low-code vs. custom web design to find out who benefits from these advancements in automation and template design. We will define the advantages and disadvantages of each. Also present high-level case studies to help you choose your ideal approach.

What is software without code or low-code?

According to Inc, “Low code software is software that can be fully customized with a ‘low’ (minimum) amount of programming. […] Codeless software, on the other hand, takes the concept of low code to another level, literally allowing anyone to tailor an application to their needs without any programming knowledge.

In the web design space, this can take the form of page builders, automated catalog builders, social plugins, and more. And when it comes to building your website, no-code / low-code web design platforms are growing in popularity.

Photo, Roberto Cortese.

These include Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify; to name a few. At the heart of their design, they allow anyone with only basic computer skills to build a simple website. Also to link it to their other essential sales and marketing channels. They do this by automating calls between websites and enabling visual design. They achieve this largely through a WYSIWYG editing interface.

According to What Is, “A WYSIWYG editor or program (pronounced” wiz-ee-wig “) is an editor or program that allows a developer to see what the end result will look like while creating the interface or document. WYSIWYG is an acronym for “what you see is what you get.” A WYSIWYG editor can be compared to more traditional editors which require the developer to enter descriptive code (or markup) and do not allow an immediate way to see the results of the markup.

This sometimes means that your editor will introduce unnecessary code that may need cleaning up later if it starts to impact page load speed. But these editors allow novices to create an attractive website. They also allow you to use predefined design features like animations and gallery views.

Example of a site without code / low-code:

Wix example

Wix shared this example of a high-level template-driven website that is achievable on their platform.

It’s crisp and clean with interesting animated elements that give the viewer a taste of the background and the designer’s aesthetic. As you scroll down, the website also features each of the projects in an animated thumbnail with a link to learn more.

Free / Low-Code Websites vs Custom Website Design

And the simple menu guides you through a journey of exploration designed to convert. Overall, it is beautifully presented and takes full advantage of the powerful features of the no-code / low-code Wix platform. And that makes sense. This person is a UX designer, so they will know how to take full advantage of these tools.

However, on some devices this website will struggle to load all of these animated elements quickly. And it could have a negative impact on SEO as well. In fact, according to Pingdom, this website only got an average rating for speed:

Free / Low-Code Websites vs Custom Website Design

Benefits of the page builder:

– Easy to create an attractive website even without experience
– Cheaper than a custom design
– Can have a website up and running in minutes
– Access to popular design elements and features

Cons of the page builder:

– May look like all other websites
– SEO is unlikely to be integrated
– It may not be optimized for mobile
– Using too many design elements can slow it down
– Code can get messy and require professional cleaning
– Rely on the platform for support and feature updates
– May not provide access to good integrations
– May require rebuilding later if unsupported functions are required

Free / Low-Code Websites vs Custom Website Design

Photo, Kelly Sikkema.

What is a custom web design?

A tailor-made web design is carried out for you by an agency or an independent web designer. It is managed by them on an ongoing basis or passed on to your internal team for them to take care of. According to Purple Cow, “A bespoke website is built from scratch. They will code it according to your business activity. There is no model that [constrain] your needs. Custom websites are flexible for updates and will grow as your business grows. Unlike template-based sites, custom sites are also easier to edit.

And a custom design can do any function the Internet allows. So it can mean direct integrations with IoT or combined ecosystems with your CRM system. Obviously, it’s easy to get a great design with low-code / no-code or bespoke websites, but the bespoke versions serve more for the brand.

According to Business2Community, “With a website template, it is impossible to differentiate your business and create an online presence unique to your business. Remember, your website is your storefront; it is your marketing and must project your professional image. The more you project a professional image, the more believable you look. Keep in mind that you need your business to stand out in the crowd, and a website template might not be able to give it to you.

Designers and coders should consider a custom design from scratch to reflect your brand and ideal customer. And so, therefore, you are likely to see stronger conversions from day one.

Example of a tailor-made website:

Studio example

Creative Brand Design shared this great example of a bespoke website.

It uses interactive animations to guide visitors along the route while also reinforcing the brand’s beehive motif – taken from their name – which speaks of the coordination of the many departments and locations of this investment ecosystem.

Free / Low-Code Websites vs Custom Website Design

And images of bees and honeycombs are shown throughout the website in a way that reinforces the brand message through animation and more. This level of customization is simply not possible with a template. However, despite this rich design, the website loads quickly and effortlessly on Pingdom:

Benefits of the bespoke website:

– The website will look totally unique
– Visuals can also add and reinforce brand value
– Built for the future and SEO from day one
– Optimized for mobile and charges quickly
– Expert assistance is available continuously
– Can be integrated with any other service

Disadvantages of the bespoke website:

– It will take longer to publish your website
– It will cost more at the start


So, if you have the reach, a bespoke website will pay dividends in brand equity and features for years to come. However, it is possible to get a simple and attractive website online quickly with low-code or no-code platforms.

Choosing between no / low code websites and a bespoke web design depends largely on your business needs, time frames and budgets; Nevertheless.


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