How Important is Custom Web Design?

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I’ve been working through the process of moving a couple of websites from free hosted services and generic themes to their own URLs with custom themes. Doing so has made me look at every website I visit from a new perspective. Did I really have to spend all that money for custom web design?

Remember when PowerPoint first came out and everyone went nuts creating animated slide presentations and slick looking reports with nothing more than the built-in templates? It was pretty easy to impress because the technology made you look good. All you had to do to outshine your competition was figure out the software. But eventually it got to the point where some of us sorry souls could identify the backgrounds and the fonts in every presentation we saw. It wasn’t impressive anymore to use the tired old options. If you wanted to stand out, you needed the services of talented designers once again.

That’s exactly how I think websites have come along. At first it was a big deal to have a static website. Now it’s mandatory to have some kind of online presence if you want customers to find you. Then blogs and social media exploded and boy wasn’t it something to have a blog – any blog – for your business! It didn’t matter that it was hosted on a free Blogger or WordPress account. You were already ahead of the pack. And now that every Martha and her dog has a blog, you’ve got to go to the extra expense and effort of having a custom site designed.

Or do you? I’m having mine overhauled in the hopes that it’ll differentiate me from the competition as more talented and professional. But in the end is it really about how good your site looks? Or the quality of product you deliver?

Image Credit: Xurble, Flickr