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WordPress Templates vs Custom Dental Website Design

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When developing a dental website, there are many platform options available for you to choose from. In most cases, dentists leave the choice of platform to the dental marketing agency. However, there are some things you should know about the platform you choose and how it can impact your dental marketing - after all, marketing is the reason to develop and maintain a website in the first place. 

Within the web development space, there are three platforms to choose from. 

  1. DIY platform
  2. Complete custom platform
  3. Custom website using an open-source CMS system

DIY Website Platforms

DIY or Do-It-Yourself website platforms offer an incentive for a quick turnaround for a website and offer the most cost-effective solution up-front. DIY platforms may claim some customization but, in fact, have the most limitations on customization than any other option. Moreover, DIY platforms lack the necessary SEO and digital marketing features to optimize a website - the very reason for investing in a website. In some cases, SEO and marketing elements are restricted until further fees are agreed upon, making the cost of custom websites more appealing. 

It has been our most longed-standing view that DIY platforms should be avoided. Even when budgets are radically restricted, a DIY platform performs so poorly that the investment is not worth it.

Completely Custom Dental Websites

A complete customer website means the design, platform, and everything that runs your website was developed from the ground up. A completely custom website is the most costly way to develop a website, as developers require an immense amount of time to create all the code. The average cost for a completely custom website ranges from 20K to 100K and up. The maintenance also requires a developer on hand and the associated costs to maintain and update the platform. 

From an ROI (Return on Investment) standpoint, a completely custom website will never reach its value for a small, local dental business. Completely custom-made websites find better value with large, international companies that require more customization, security, and advanced user interfaces. 

Naturally, a completely custom website will perform the best with security, allow for complete customization, and will include all the tools necessary for any digital marketing campaign.  

Custom Dental Website using an Open Source CMS

Since 2008, several website developers have begun developing open-source code to run a successful website. These systems, known as CMS (Content Management System), include all the files and code to build a simple website. Once the files are downloaded to a server, a dental website developer can begin to configure the website's design, flow, and content without having to build the foundational code. 

Developers or clients can build a custom website design or choose from thousands of website designs developed by 3rd parties and install them onto the CMS. A custom approach would be to craft a website design that brings out the brand and identity of the dental practice. A semi-custom approach would be to choose from the thousands of available templates and customize the template. Each approach costs relatively the same, with custom designs typically higher depending on the developer. However, a custom website design approach will stand out with a total custom identity, potentially increasing conversion value. 

WordPress and Other CMS's

The most popular website CMS platform is WordPress. WordPress was developed as a blogging platform back in the early 2000's. Since then, the platform's foundation has mostly stayed the same. However, WordPress requires many plugins to operate as a public-facing website with all the developments that have happened nearly 30 years ago, and there are better platforms to choose from. 

Website plugins are apps a 3rd party develops to change or enhance certain features of a CMS. Many plugins require ongoing costs, while others are free with limited ability. Apps that require fees are rarely worth the ROI as they do not generate revenue for most professionals within the dental industry. WordPress is historically known to require many plugins to include the ability to add menus and other features, enhance SEO and digital marketing strategies, combat security issues, update cache, etc. Without the necessary plugins, WordPress will only function as a blogging platform. 

WordPress became the most popular platform with its endorsement by Google's SEO representative Mathew Cutts. Since then, many developers have begun using WordPress as the primary CMS system. However, many CMSs have been developed with far more advanced features and security since then. 

Whether you choose WordPress or another platform, selecting a WordPress template or a custom design is a pivotal decision that significantly influences your digital footprint and marketing outcome. Understanding each option's nuances and key factors is crucial in determining the most suitable choice for your online presence.

WordPress Templates

WordPress offers numerous templates you can use to design your website if you don't have a developer to craft a custom design for you. Here are some pros and cons to keep in mind. 


  • Website templates provide a swift route to getting your dental website up and running. 
  • Typically, templates are more budget-friendly than custom website designs.
  • Many templates come pre-equipped with user-friendly features.


  • Your website may share similarities with others using the same template.
  • Customization options might be restricted, impacting the uniqueness of your online identity.
  • Popular templates could be widespread, diluting your practice's distinctiveness.
  • Without the uniqueness and identity of a custom design, a website potentially limits marketing conversions. 

Custom Dental Website Design

A custom dental website design gives your dental practice a unique visual brand and identity to which your audiences can relate. Using a CMS, you can craft and install a personal design while eliminating the need to code all the files of a successful website. Here are some pros and cons to keep in mind. 


  • A custom design allows you to craft a unique online identity.
  • Custom designs seamlessly integrate your brand elements for a cohesive online presence.
  • Tailor every aspect of your website to meet your audience's specific needs and preferences.
  • Increase conversions with personalization patients can relate to.


  • Custom website designs may take longer to develop compared to quickly deployable templates.
  • Initial investment for a custom design is typically higher, especially if you get help from a professional dental marketing agency, though it can offer a strong return on investment.
  • Maintenance may require ongoing collaboration with design professionals.

Making the Decision: Considerations for Your Dental Practice

Choosing between a WordPress template and a custom design hinges on your unique practice goals, budget constraints, and the desired level of distinctiveness.

If establishing a unique brand identity and potentially increasing patient conversions is essential to you, a custom design is likely the best fit. On the other hand, if you need a cost-effective and quick solution to get the ball rolling, a WordPress template may be more suitable. 

Keep in mind your long-term vision. If scalability and adaptability are critical for future growth, a custom design provides a more sustainable solution, even if it is costlier. Also, consider your digital marketing goals. A well-designed website is a crucial component of successful digital marketing.

Dental Marketing Services

Looking for someone who can help you with dental website marketing? Medical Marketing Guru can help! Leave the website design to us - we can handle every aspect of the marketing for you and leave you to focus on the more essential parts of running your dental business. Contact us now for more information!

Posted on Jan 22, 2024
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