Jump to content
dazzyweb

Difference between Custom and Bespoke design

Recommended Posts

I have been doing some research recently on a whole bunch of web design agencies around the UK to try and bring myself up to date with latest prices, practices and offerings from the competition.

The results from my research show that at least 75 percent of the web design companies don't actually design any websites from scratch or barely design them at all.
This percentage of 75 percent came from the sites they built that I could actually see were using templates or themes by various means by looking at their code or name of wordpress theme etc.., so the percentage of websites actually built from templates or themes could be much higher.

This kind of shook me a little and made me realise how these agencies can offer such low prices. Something I have been struggling to do.

One of the main things that stood out for me was that these web designers / agencies were calling their service 'Custom design'.

That got me thinking what does it actually mean custom design?

Then I noticed that a few of the agencies that were actually creating their designs from scratch often only named their service 'Bespoke design'.

So I asked myself a few questions:

What is the difference between custom and bespoke design and do clients really care?

My experience has shown me that most clients don't seem to care any more if their website is built from a template/theme or not.

Is it correct to call a customised template(adapted for the client) a 'custom design'?

Where do you draw the line or difference between a custom and Bespoke design?

In this fast changing world of web development I know we need to adapt or die and I now see that templates will have to play a much larger part in my work going forward if I am going to survive and compete with others as building and designing a bespoke design(from scratch) takes much longer than my current potential clients seem willing to pay.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My main experience in this comes from outside web design. However, clients of web designers are also clients of other people, like advertising producers, composers (me) and so on. So, I imagine they have the same expectations.

In music, there is a clear difference between off-the-shelf and bespoke/custom (bespoke and custom are the same things).

With bespoke the expectation is that you compose a piece of music from scratch and then will not sell that piece of music to anyone else.

With off-the-shelf, the client expects the music to be from a stock source (production library, your own library, wherever) and that they will licence it. The terms of the licence might be that they can just use it (and so can everyone else), or they might licence it exclusively for a given territory for a set amount of time and so on. However, they would expect this to be the cheaper option, unless the music is something famous and in copyright.

With the off-the-shelf version, they might well expect some customisation, and those customisations would be unique - for instance, having their name sung. But that would be unique by its nature!

(Note the difference in emphasis between a "custom" solution and "customising" an existing solution)

With web designers, if a company is using a bought-in template as a starting point, the client would expect to be told that a) the basic design has been outsourced by using a pre-existing template and b) that anyone else, including their direct competitor, are free to source the same template.

If a design company is using a 3rd party template and saying it is a bespoke or custom design (as opposed to customising someone elses design), then to be frank, they are being dishonest.

If that happened in music (and it has a couple of times) the lawyers do very well out of it. 

To be completely unfair (or maybe not) to certain web designers, when they use a template and just change a couple of colours and the logo, then they can't have really thought about their client's image. Treating them as just another shoe seller, or plumber, or guitarist shows a diabolical disregard for brand image and client integrity.

I have much more time for instant plug and play solutions where the client KNOWS they are not going to look unique, but just need to get on the web with something that is cheap and quick. It might not be the best solution, but at least it is honest.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been doing some research recently on a whole bunch of web design agencies around the UK to try and bring myself up to date with latest prices, practices and offerings from the competition.

The results from my research show that at least 75 percent of the web design companies don't actually design any websites from scratch or barely design them at all.

Unfortunately, there's a race to the bottom with regards to themes and especially WordPress themes. 

I never would have thought the numbers were so high though. How are you selecting the web companies?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My experience has shown me that most clients don't seem to care any more if their website is built from a template/theme or not.

I suspect they don't even realize ... sad.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the 24H economy where everything must go faster and cheaper

where everything becomes targets, assets and numbers expressed in money.

Anyway there is always a new door you can open on the internet and step in

with pw or something else, space is endless there.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately, there's a race to the bottom with regards to themes and especially WordPress themes. 

I never would have thought the numbers were so high though. How are you selecting the web companies?

I selected the companies through several sources such as search engines and yell.com and all web designers / agencies local to me from South west england to south wales including cardiff and other scattered areas of the UK. Some of my research also included US companies including a larger range around the Chicago area. There is a similar pattern. Yes, many of them were Wordpress themes which are much easier to work out if they are built from a theme or not.

Many of those that use themes / templates are quite large companies and the description is most often custom design. They often purchase packages such as woothemes for wordpress with a variety of themes to choose from or of course use themes from themeforest It really seems to be common practice and just looking around at the prices there is no other way that they could charge such a low price than to use a theme or template as a base. This is the reality I am finding that I am coming up against.

The thing is these themes / templates are quite impressive and very customisable so they don't always look the same so can in a sense can become more of a real custom theme.

I suspect they don't even realize ... sad.

I have asked around recently to quite a few people and most reply me the same with that they don't mind that if it is based on a template as long as it works, looks good and does the job.

If a design company is using a 3rd party template and saying it is a bespoke or custom design (as opposed to customising someone elses design), then to be frank, they are being dishonest.

I was thinking the same way and still do in a way but my perception of what custom means is starting to change slightly but the term Custom does seem to be often  loosely or cleverly used and this is where confusion comes in and whereby the separating of the terms custom and bespoke seems to make sense and is already being applied by web designers and agencies even if in one way they seem to be the same thing.

There is also a thin line sometimes between what is a totally original piece of work or a rearranged template or collected design elements from a framework.

Thinking about it now, I suppose how many people buy a totally uniquely designed car? Maybe change the colour, leather seats, some changes in the interior etc...becomes customised. Custom BMW

My friend purchased a custom camper. Pretty much the same as the others with a few modifications and furniture moved around to specifications. 'Custom Camper'.

Looking up the terms bespoke and custom I found the following on one blog custom menswear and trends :

Bespoke

It means a suit that has “been spoken for”. Bespoke is when one tailor creates a suit from scratch for one person. This usually takes multiple fittings as the pattern is drafted directly on the person. This art arises from Savile Row (UK) and is the most traditional way a suit is made.

 

Custom Made is a very forgiving term that can be used to describe anything that has been tweaked to fit you based on your measurements and style options. When this term is used, it can mean a variety of things or a combination of methods.

 

The above seems to be the way that most agencies from what I have seen are using the terms.

 

I found one website that offers customised websites(Powerful Custom Website) & Bespoke Websites with 2 different descriptions of what they are explained quite clearly. Links to the pages below:

 

Custom Design

 

Bespoke web design

 

As he shows on his website, the designs can look quite different. I think he is using designmodo, which just looking has a black Friday 70% off sale :-)

 

I think that things are moving so fast that templates and themes are combining into all in one theme/template/frameworks. Many wordpress & bootstrap theme/templates come with many elements & components that can be moved and changed to make a more customised website.

 

I think that the lines are getting increasingly blurred between what is custom, bespoke or just rearranging some elements / components and colours on a page to suit the clients specifications.

 

just edited the links above as they were pointing to wrong page.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that it is not that clients don't care, I think they don't realised they are being fooled to be honest.

I have only dealt with tiny little companies recently, perfect Wordpress fodder. When I talk to them about what is what, they really care a lot and didn't realise what they were facing.

This is true of all forms of advertising (and websites are just advertising, for the most part). Advertising is such a specialist thing that most clients are completely out of their depth - that is why they subcontract in the first place.

But with web design being such a new industry, and SEO seeming to be some sort of "dark art" the field is open for anyone who wants to be less than scrupulous. 

And that is a shame, not just for the clients, but for all those designers out there that care about doing right by their client.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why on earth would average business owner care if the website design is custom made or based on high quality template?

I don't think they would like to pay extra for custom made car, much rather buy the Toyota hiace and add some nice looking paintings on it.

Many people buy ready designed houses, instead of asking something just for them. Price matters.

It's entirely different thing when the business is online or the main marketing channel is websites (and clients can be from all around the world). And of course if client just has money and wants something just for them (emotional buying).

  • Like 8

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The linchpin mentality would be espouse all possible solutions appropriate to the scope of the project, considering all elements including budget, time frame, intended audience type and size, target devices, developer's time resources, with the goal to ship it on time and on budget.

Themeforest is a great resource for front end designs, and I use it when appropriate (and also codecanyon). But don't expect to get much in terms of support; also sometimes the technologies used are not quite up to date, and the css can be bloated.

We all love bespoke–after all, the engine running the site is already as bespoke as it can get without writing your own CMS.

But most clients I work with can't afford bespoke frontend and backend so a choice has to be made. I have a few "go-to" TF authors that are great both in terms of design and code quality. The clients usually pick the template by visiting TF. 

If this was my full time job, I would probably only do 100% bespoke front end because it would be more fun and engaging.

But this is all relative- we're already abstracted a few levels away from the bottom with frameworks, css preprocessors, and CMFs...

Nobody Cares How Hard You Worked

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But most clients I work with can't afford bespoke frontend and backend so a choice has to be made. I have a few "go-to" TF authors that are great both in terms of design and code quality. The clients usually pick the template by visiting TF. 

If this was my full time job, I would probably only do 100% bespoke front end because it would be more fun and engaging.

But this is all relative- we're already abstracted a few levels away from the bottom with frameworks, css preprocessors, and CMFs...

Nobody Cares How Hard You Worked

@macura I have the same experience. Also most clients shop around as well and see the lower prices offered by the competition. Price is often the number one factor for them. By the way I think Seth Godin is great.

For me the terms custom / bespoke are ever more confusing and this makes things ever more complex dealing with the competition and differentiating myself from the competition with my price structure.

Most agencies / web designers from what my research shows are using the term custom design to describe a part modified / customized template / theme.

If I use the term custom design and design the site from scratch and give a quote for a project, then the client looks around and finds others that claim to build a custom design website(modified template) for a quarter of the price then that puts me in a difficult position. I also don't want to go down the road of slagging off the competition to my clients.

Maybe it is about time that new terms were used in web design to properly differentiate what is being offered to the clients.

For me separating the terms custom and bespoke with an explanation of what each of these actually mean seems to make sense in today's world of web design and very helpful to show what the competition is actually offering.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@dazzyweb - you're right, maybe the first thing we all need to do with new clients is to have a meeting where we explain these differences; I try and do this whenever possible, and it helps. And it's true what Joss says that most clients are completely in the dark about the world of web design, and the internet in general. This places a larger burden upon us web designers because of the training and support implications, and that's an area that i'm trying to deal with now, like for example marking up budgets to account for all of the question-answer, training sessions, and making docs...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi! 

Looks like I'm slightly late to the party with this, but wanted to share my two cents anyway...

I actually work at a web design agency myself and we've written at least 3 blog articles about what bespoke website design is, means etc. 

Often I point people to that if I am asked, however I still find a lot of people asking me the same sort of thing a lot and my next response is to compare the process to buying a pair of trainers.

If you go onto the Nike website and customise a pair of trainers, for example, you are not allowed the option of creating a shoe from scratch. You are only allowed to change laces, add names and make a few other small edits.

If you're looking to create a shoe from scratch, you have to be able to either call Nike directly, or source a specialist shoe maker to do it for you, where they'll take down all your details, ask you what material you want etc.

So I say that customisation is fine, but if you're looking for the real deal and you want something that has been made for only you that will last much longer, choose bespoke.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...