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Umbraco Custom Design vs Umbraco Templates

You’re dedicated to design excellence, researching the many benefits of Umbraco templates because you’ve heard they deliver super-easy, highly effective ways to create stunning, hard-working website designs in no time. As an experienced Umbraco web development agency we insist on Umbraco because it’s simply the best open source content management system around. Read on to find out all about Umbraco templates and how they compare to Umbraco custom design. By the end of this article you’ll know how to make the best choice for your online design project, whether it’s a website, an ecommerce store, or an entire intranet.        

Benefits of Using Umbraco

There’s an impressive suite of benefits of using Umbraco. For a start it is open source, which means it’s free to use. The company employs more than 70 people, supported by a core team of developers who constantly update and enhance the platform’s functionality, which means it’s always fresh, always tuned in to the latest digital tech, and always built to take the things Google’s search algorithm requires into account.

The Umbraco user interface is beautifully responsive, providing users with an optimal experience no matter what size screen they’re using, It automatically minimises horizontal scrolling and maximises data presentation clearly in the display, for example responding to narrow the screen whenever a user changes their tablet view from landscape to portrait.

The software comes with top class native, built-in API capabilities. An Application Programming Interface is a set of protocols and tools for building software applications, designed to specify exactly how software components need to interact with each other. This makes it a lot easier to develop programmes, providing the building blocks that a programmer puts together. Take Amazon’s API, which lets developers harness the existing retail infrastructure to create specialist online ecommerce stores.

You need a CMS that’s reliable and dependable, and we can confirm that’s exactly what Umbraco is. It comes with essential SEO and marketing tools built in. Being highly scalable and flexible, it’s perfect for designing everything from a simple brochure site to a complex multiple-product ecommerce store or a company intranet. And it’s surprisingly easy to customise. All this means once you’re on Umbraco, there’s no need to move to another platform. It grows with you.

Umbraco comes with a generous collection of free ‘packages’, AKA plugins or extensions. They’re designed to support smooth, quick upgrades and migrations as well as adding extra functionality in all sorts of cool and creative ways, allowing designers to do more.

The tool provides great cross-platform compatibility thanks to being based on .NET5, including MacOs and Linux. And it’s surprisingly simple to grasp – you don’t need specialist knowledge or training to use it. The user interface is beautifully clear. Developers love the clarity and flexibility of its page types, templates, and plugins.

Security is key thanks to the platform’s inherent Microsoft technology. There are also extra security measures in place to keep the development environment safe, including two-factor authentication. The Umbraco cloud is also very secure and you can apply all manner of cool security features, from user backoffice authentication to custom password control.

You have a choice of training courses to enjoy, teaching you about best practice, features, functions and more. You can create multilingual sites with ease. And the marketing side of things has been equally carefully thought through, too. It’s easy to enable social media sharing, and the editing workflow is a delight.

Umbraco Templates

What are templates? A template is a pre-designed resource for developers in a pre-set format. It is used as a starting point so you don’t need to begin the design process from scratch. Your chosen template might be dark green with cream text, but you might want to change it to a blue background with white text. The font might be Arial, but you can change that, too. Depending on the template, you can change and adjust all sorts of elements of the design, creating something unique in record time. The template defines the markup on the new site, but you’re in control of the output.  

So how do templates work in Umbraco? When you use a template to get started, you can get the site up and running so much faster than starting from scratch. The clean, clear open source code behind Umbraco lets you modify the templates to make them unique. In fact, all document types in Umbraco should have an attached template, but they can be user-created.

What is the relationship between master templates and child templates? A parent template is a complete template including all the Umbraco files and assets the template needs to work with. A child template follows the look and feel of the parent theme and has the same functions, but you can use it to modify any part of the template. This keeps your customisations separate from the parent template’s files. You can quickly upgrade the parent template without affecting the customisation you’ve done on the site itself.

You can see how child templates make modifications both portable and replicable, letting you take advantage of all the work and testing carried out on the parent theme while saving development time and learning a great deal about template development while you’re at it.

Umbraco Custom Design

What is custom design? It simply means a design created from scratch rather than a pre-designed template. As you’ll see, while Umbraco’s templates are stunning and very popular, the basic process for creating a custom design in Umbraco is surprisingly straightforward.

  • Install Umbraco
  • Prepare your Custom Umbraco Template Site
  • Create your first document type
  • Describe what a document type is in Umbraco
  • Customise the document type
  • You’ll notice how Umbraco creates a corresponding template when you select the Document Type with the Template option when creating the Document Type
  • Feel free to customise the template code – it’s easy
  • Finally, create a content node that uses your defined document type and template

As you can see, templates play a vital part in the overall Umbraco system and they’re readily customised.

Umbraco Custom Design vs Template Based Design

So what are the pros and cons of template based website development versus custom site design?

The pros of template and theme based sites

  • Quick build time – which means you can get a site up and running in record time
  • Low cost – which means you save money on what can be an expensive process when done from scratch
  • There’s such a wide and exciting variety of themes and designs available, to suit every type and size of organisation, from tiny to huge

The cons of template and theme based sites

  • Unless you make noticeable changes to the template or theme, you might find other websites out there with a similar look and feel
  • Templates and themes usually have limited customisation capabilities – there’s only so much you can change to make your site unique
  • SEO isn’t always built in
  • The results might not be mobile responsive

The pros of custom site design

  • You achieve a unique site design, specific to a the brand, business, and site owner
  • Built with SEO taken into account as a priority
  • Often very little or no expertise is needed
  • Guarantees mobile compliant responsive design

The cons of custom site design

  • Custom sites take longer to design and implement
  • More time means more money
  • Expertise is needed

Custom or template?

Now you know the differences between a custom build site and a site created using templates. Your choice depends on your budget, exactly what you want to achieve as regards branding, the timing, the urgency, and more.  Would you like to find out more about the intricacies of B2B website development? As your web design agency in Oxford, it's what we do, and we’d love to hear from you.

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