Why it’s a Bad Idea to Over-Customize Client Website Templates

Web clients love custom designs. Enough unique changes can turn a pre-made template into a beautiful, original site design. While there’s nothing wrong with tweaking a website for your clients, customization can be taken too far.


Granting excessive requests can put your projects into overtime and drive you mad. If you want to avoid these issues, here are 4 reasons to limit the amount of changes you provide for web clients.


  1. You’ll fall down a rabbit hole of never-ending tweaks


Every designer has worked with at least one client who requested endless changes to their website. At first, the requests seem reasonable and are easy to implement. Then, the requests get more challenging and sometimes threaten the entire infrastructure of the site.


Many website builders allow extensive customization to templates, storefronts, and even plugins. However, approving every request you receive means you’ll be spending precious time on features that don’t necessarily support your client’s overall goal.


If you don’t set boundaries, you’ll fall down a rabbit hole of endless requests. To manage excessive requests, you need to do two things:


  • Have a formal request process. Don’t let clients randomly email you their ideas. Require them to go through a formal request process. Create a simple form for clients to fill out to make a request. Take a few days to review their request and send them a formal response in the same format with an explanation for any rejected requests.

    When a client has to go through a formal process to request a change, they’ll think carefully about their request. Instead of flooding your inbox with random emails each time they have an idea, they’ll give you an organized outline of what they want.

  • Limit the number of individual requests you’ll consider. Never allow clients to submit unlimited requests for changes. In addition to a formal request process, you need rules for how many requests you’ll take. For example, you could limit revision requests to 5 formal requests per project.

    It’s perfectly okay to let clients make multiple requests with each formal request; the point is to get them to condense their requests into a finite number of formal process. Accept additional requests at your discretion based on available time and project deadlines.


Each time you accept a request, you commit yourself and your team to yet another cycle of testing, verification, and re-engineering.

  1. Excessive customization detracts from a website’s purpose


All changes you make should support or strengthen the website’s purpose. If you make changes that don’t add to the website’s main function, it’s a waste of client money and your time.


Of course, many clients don’t know when their requested change is a waste of money. Some clients are attached to ideas like using Flash to simulate popping bubble wrap.


Unless the sole purpose of your client’s website is to entertain users, try your best to talk them out of features that don’t serve a purpose.


  1. Excessive customization gives clients too much control over the project


By saying ‘yes’ to every request a client throws at you, you’re unknowingly putting them in the driver’s seat of the project. Clients tend to want more control than what’s good for them.


When a client feels like they’re in charge of the entire project, they’re more likely to demand features that don’t support their project and reject design elements that work in their favor. It’s a strange dance you have to do with clients, but they don’t always know what’s best for them. The more control you maintain over the project, the easier it will be to keep them on track with their goals.


  1. Clients often mistake personalization for customization


People love personalizing everything, including their websites. That’s fine for a personal site. However, business sites don’t benefit from personalization.


There is a difference between customization and personalization. Customization refers to the general process of making changes. Personalization refers to changes that are specifically personal. Some business owners may not even be aware that they’re trying to personalize – not customize – their business website.


Completing too many requests for a client might encourage them to get a little too creative. For example, a client might request that you put a giant selfie on the home page, or they might ask you to change the color scheme to their favorite university’s colors so they can “show support.” If you’ve never denied a request, they’ll be hurt when you say ‘no’ to these types of requests.


Minimize approvals


To meet project deadlines and get results for your clients, keep your customizations to a minimum. One day, they’ll thank you for setting boundaries.

Written by Jenna Cyprus

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