Definitive guide

Website template customization

How to make website template customization unique

Website template customization is a normal process undertaken these days by businesses starting or enhancing their presence online. With all the competitors a company may have in its industry having their websites, how does a startup then make a template unique to its business? Choosing the right website template, to begin with!

Choosing a website template for your business

Choosing the right website template for your business is important because, for practical reasons, you would not like to have something that you can’t actually use. The website template you have to look out for should be appropriate to your brand, aligned to your goals, enabled to achieve the features you would like to see, and suitable to the industry you belong to. Let me expound on each one.

1. It should be brand appropriate

Not all startups have the budget for a high-end website. It is normally recommendable to begin using free customizable templates from website builders like WordPress, which is what I use. In WordPress, templates are called themes that are made available to members according to the plan they have chosen on sign-up: Free or Paid.

(There are other website builders that you could use such as Bluehost, Elementor, Webflow, and Wix. I am just more comfortable with WordPress so it is what I discuss in this post. I did make a review on Wix, you might want to read it.)

Often, free templates or themes come with limited colors that may not be suitable to your company’s identity or brand colors. Paid templates or themes are, of course, more flexible though not totally. Some still have limitations such as the fonts in use and layouts allowable. So it would be best to always refer to your brand kit when choosing the template.

I prefer WordPress’ Divi Theme, whose full features come from paid subscriptions under a Business Plan. Divi is so powerful that I recommend it to those who are serious about establishing their presence only. It’s a good investment!

For more information about it, do check out the honest review I made on Divi that includes how it can help your business.

2. It should align with business goals

Besides brand identity, the template you choose should align with your business goals in general and with your purpose in having a website in particular.

  • Will the website be a medium for people to get all the information they need about your business and get in touch with you? If this is your goal, then a simple template will suit you.
  • Will it be an online showcase of your products and all creative assets made for it? If yes, the template you choose should have a layout that brings photos and videos to the spotlight or forefront. It could even be more visual than the copy.
  • Will it be a platform to create an online community for your brand? If yes, then a template that highlights member photos or avatars, discussion boards, and recent member posts in its layout is the one for you.

These are but some of the questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to the purpose of your website so you can determine the right type of layout for your business.

3. It should be enabled with functions that will result in desired website features

Alongside having an appropriate layout to suit your purpose, the template you choose must be enabled or equipped with functions that will achieve the features you want to have on your website. WordPress themes are equipped with a variety of features to suit a business’s needs based on a member’s chosen plan.

These functions are enabled in the layout through a plugin or add-on feature called widgets. There are hundreds of widgets available on WordPress that result in a variety of features from automated newsletters to online shopping features. Some widgets come free in a theme for a paid plan and additional ones to it comes with an extra fee.

To help you make a decision on which website template to choose for the features you want to have, here are the plans WordPress now offers to its members. There were originally only three plans: Free, Premium, and Business. But this has expanded over the years as more and more companies around the world use this website builder along with the functionality they offer in their templates.

4. It should be suitable to the business industry

Finally, the fourth consideration in choosing a website template has to do with the type of industry your business belongs to. There are certain templates most suitable for food industries such as bakeries, bars, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and manufacturers as there are for the fashion industry. While the same goes for the other industries:

This listing is a review of the templates for each kind of business niche to make it easy on you to choose which is right for you, as well as, to inspire you with the design. Feel free to check them out at any time.

Having pointed out the importance of choosing the right template, let’s now move on to how you can make your chosen website template uniquely to your business.

Website template customization How to make it unique to your business
Website template customization How to make it unique to your business2

Making a website template unique to your business

It’s a given that the fastest way to create a website is to use ready-made templates from builders like WordPress. But it is a big mistake not to tailor-fit a website’s template to your business identity and purpose. There are several ways to customize a ready-made website template into one uniquely your own. Here are my ten suggestions from years of being a part of the web design industry:

1. Create a site map

The first thing a new businessman should have is a map of the website’s content, specifically its sections. This will make it easy to design the website because you have a clear structure in mind. The sitemap would also guide the kind of features needed in the website and provide an overview of how many pages it will have.

Normally, the website should have a homepage, a section about your company, another section for information on your products or services, and a separate section on how people could get in touch with you. How you will name these sections is dependent on the extent of personalization you deem more appropriate to your brand. (More on this below.)

2. Personalize the menu and buttons

The next step that comes to having a clear site map is translating it into the actual design. That means naming the menu based on what you’ve plotted out on the map. To make your menu stand out, personalization is highly suggested.

This means formulating the language used for the section name in a conversant manner or as though you are speaking to your visitor. Doing so adds warmth to your website because it “speaks” like a human being and makes your visitors feel welcome.

For example, instead of using “About Us”, why not use “Our Story” or “Who We Are”? Then implement the same manner of speaking or messaging to your call-to-action buttons. Say, instead of using “Book An Appointment”, use “Schedule A Visit!” or “Let’s Meetup!”. I also have a great listing of inspiring call-to-action examples for you.

In gist, the goal is to make the names of the menu and buttons sound (or read) like it’s your company talking. So much so that this personalization even extends to how you structure your online forms. The Communication and Design Manual I mentioned previously in my post will serve as your guide on how best to do this. The CDM, after all, is your go-to for the design and structuring of all your business’ creative assets.

Another way to personalize menus is by the manner it is presented. Some memorable menus these days have tweaked drop-down menus to include photos and videos! So, be creative! Check out this listing to get a better feel of personalized menus for website design. You could also check this listing if you need help on how to word product pages.

3. Incorporate branding

With your website template slowly taking form, the next elements you implement in it are those on your unique identity or branding. This is done by adding your logo, changing the pictures, using your fonts, and replacing the colors in the pre-made template.

a. Your company logo

Pre-made website templates often have a temporary image to indicate where the company’s logo should be placed in the layout. Simply replace this with your company logo. Make sure the logo is crisp and of good quality.

Some templates allow flexibility based on the chosen theme and subscription to fully modify where the logo and other images (photos and graphics) could be placed in the layout. Decide where you would like to place it, which often is at the top of the page along with the website’s header. This is to easily convey to the visitor who the website belongs to.

b. Your company and product photos

Next, replace the product photos in the template with that of your products. Similarly, replace other photos used in the template with your company photos or relevant photos to accompany its content. Using stock photos is fine but websites that often stand out are those that use their own. (More on this below.)

c. Your brand colors

The next thing to do is to implement a color scheme based on your brand colors, which are normally the colors seen in your logo. Say your company colors are red and black, change the template to have a red background for the header and frame it or highlight it with a black-colored menu, for example. These colors should trickle down to the color of your fonts, illustrations, graphics, and buttons.

Take the case of Coca-Cola for example. Their color is black and red and this is used in everything about them from products to websites and advertisements. Consistency is important because that is your identity and it should be the same online. Again, your Communication and Design Manual would come in handy in helping you with this aspect.

As much as consistency and redundancy are important, the brand colors you implement on the website template should follow the sound principles of visual hierarchy, which I will discuss more below. It is also worth remembering that adding lots of white spaces in the template brings in the visual balance needed in any design.

d. Your typography set

Speaking of fonts, it is necessary to use the typography set you have indicated for use by your company in your Communication and Design Manual. Let’s go back to Coca-Cola. They use a distinct swirly font that, even from afar, you know is Coca-Cola.

There are just some downsides to this since not all computers and gadgets that will access your website have the same font installed in it as the one you are using on your website. In this regard, designers use images that show your font style to retain it in the design. This is good so long as the image is optimized for the web.

4. Implement a visual hierarchy

Visual hierarchy means creating tiers of how content is present in your template with the top part as the most important and the bottom part as the least. The tiers are created by changing the amount of space and the size and color of the images and texts or their background presented on the screen.

Thus, the first tier of the hierarchy, or the top part may use bolder colors, more vibrant images, and bigger fonts. The middle tier’s design elements are smaller or of a lighter shade. While the bottom tier has the smallest design elements or the lightest hues on the page.

When it comes to your typography set particular to the website, you may assign text styles for headers different from the copy or actual content. Then use it consistently throughout the page. This should also be similar to your other creative assets for ease of identification with your brand, which is also something you base on your Communication and Design Manual.

The colors you use in the website template, as I mentioned earlier in this post, must be guided by the role of color in design and by its contribution to enhancing user experience. These are all made easy if you have a basic background in Color Psychology and theory.

5. Identify your design style

Another thing to consider when customizing your chosen website template is knowing what design style to use. This means how the elements in the design are set in the layout to arrive at a cohesive whole.

Shillington Design Blog points out that there are several design styles currently in use. These are Art Nouveau, Art Deco, American Kitsch, 3-Dimensional, Grunge, Minimalist, Psychedelic, Punk, and Swiss/International.

A trending design among websites, which is what I love most, is the Minimalist Design. This follows the concept of “less is more” that was initially used in interior design taken from the Japanese Zen philosophy and eventually found its way into website design. Let me refer you to some of the best minimalist websites I’ve reviewed for a better appreciation of this design, do particularly check on Hy, which I prefer the most.

Your company’s identity should be of the most help to you in the decision on which design style you’ll use for the website template.

Hy - Clean Website Example

6. Use your photos

Now you might wonder what I mean by using your photos. This means setting aside some funds to hire a professional photographer in creating your stock of photos. This is normally done in one photoshoot for your products, your office interiors, yourself, and your personnel.

This will give you access to a ready stock of quality photos—professional photos–to use for all your creative assets. Thus, making it uniquely your own and, when used on your website, conveys to the visitors that it is a credible and legitimate company. That’s beside the fact that professional photos create more beautiful websites.

7. Implement SEO techniques

Entrepreneur suggests implementing SEO techniques in customizing your chosen website template. This is in so far as optimizing the file size of the photos and graphics you’ll be using on the website. This not only helps lessen loading time and helps enhance user experience, but this also aids in the better responsiveness of your website so it appears in Google Search Engines. The higher the response rate of a website the higher it is ranked on search engines

One SEO technique is adding a blog section in your website where you talk about your company’s specialization in a way most useful to your clients—that is to better educate them of its value in their lives. Something that I do here on My Codeless Website. There are many ways you can do this, of course.

8. Add interactivity

As a cherry on top of the cake, adding scripts and design elements for interactivity in the website template should complete your process of customization. This pertains to programming scripts that add animation or special effects to your design. This also includes customizing your navigation links or your menu as previously mentioned in #2 of this section.

Some companies add background videos to their website header to make it more compelling. Since this is a trend in website design these days, there are a few who make sure to use videos that are uniquely theirs. Say, a video that highlights their corporate or company values so that people will be compelled to do business with them. Then this is backed by animated scrollers of customer or client testimonials. Again, be creative!

Of course, don’t overdo the special effects in your design so that your website’s visitors would become annoyed or frustrated. Moderation is the key.

The important thing to remember is if it makes your website’s visitors experience more pleasant and answers their needs as fast as possible. Thus, adding interactivity like accessibility features for the visually challenged and live chat or chat bot would be great ways to customize your website template

9. Equip it for mobile

Remember to make your website template suitable for browsing on mobile or any other type of gadget such as tablets. This is to have a wider market scope of users for your website, as well as, an added service of convenience.

10. Seek the aid of a professional web designer

Now, if all these seem confusing to you. You could always seek the aid of a professional web designer in putting it all together for you. This would also ensure that your website would come out right aesthetically and technically. Should you be interested, I work with three multi-awarded web designers and often refer them to my clients. You may find them here.

Bonus tip: test your final website template

Do a soft launch to test if your customized template works according to your expectations for the website. For the soft launch, you could ask loyal customers to visit the website and check out its features in exchange for some discounts or freebies you can give them for doing so.

Customer or client feedback is very important and doing the website “with them in mind” will not inculcate ownership in its design with them but also send out the message of how sincere you are in helping them with their needs.

Then tweak what is needed in the design and features before you do a full launch.

If still need more information on how this is all done, I suggest further and more in-depth reading on the tips I made for designing your first website and on web design tricks. You may also want to check on the listing I made on the best unique websites to inspire you in making yours.

Website template customization in a nutshell

Customize website templates have become more flexible these days with powerful themes like Divi and builders like WordPress. Business startups in need of a new website or thinking of revising existing ones can now easily modify templates according to their needs and purpose. At the end of the day, customizing website templates should always be consistent with a company’s branding or a competitive edge to make it uniquely theirs.


How do I optimize relevant keywords in my website for SEO?

There are many ways to optimize your website through the use of relevant keywords to your company, current marketing campaign goals, and brand identity. First, you should know the basics of SEO. I have a comprehensive guide for you. Second, determine how many keywords you should actually use for your website and other marketing channels. Finally, add these keywords in your website’s meta description and as meta tags in your posts or content. You can check here how to do this if your website is in WordPress.

How do I make my website mobile friendly?

It’s been more than a decade since companies started moving to mobile in their efforts to reach their customers or target market. This is an exodus brought about by the high demand for mobile use by consumers the world over. Making your website mobile-friendly, then, is not only an added service or feature of your website but a necessity. Testing it for mobile during the design and development phase of the website would be a starting point for this. But here are other ways you could use for your website.

What features should I add to make my website more useful for people with disabilities?

Adding an accessibility feature to your website, for one, would make it useful for people who particularly have reading disorders or visual challenges. Adding a pop-up or floating menu when your homepage loads that allow users to change brightness or contrast, and color schemes (from dark to light or vice versa), are some features you could add. For the hearing impaired, adding a video pop-up window that tells them what each page is about through a person doing sign language would sure be cool and a standout.