Website Development

Custom vs Themed: How to Choose the Right School Website Design

February 17, 2021

Our team has almost a decade of experience specializing in creating websites for the education space, so we like to think that we know a thing or two about what schools are looking for. We pride ourselves on being able to cater to all schools — no matter the shape or size! Whether you’re looking for an entirely custom school website or a more affordable theme option, we’re here to help. 

For our final post in the Digistorm Website Design series, we’re looking at custom vs theme school websites. Below, we’ll take a look at some key examples of the custom and theme websites we’ve created for schools and deep dive into the functionality of each solution to help you decide. 


Custom school websites

At Digistorm, we build custom websites that help reach your school’s business goals. The marvelous thing about custom websites is that they’re designed around your school’s content, rather than a preset design, so the sky really is the limit. When you choose to go custom, your school will gain access to advanced functionality and a fully customized home page layout, allowing your school’s website to stand out among competitors. 

While it may be true that custom websites require a larger investment, the benefits of unbridled design flexibility and customization can’t be beaten. Plus, you’ll be working hand-in-hand with our skilled design team (what a bonus) to map out and create your school’s dream website. Let’s take a look at just a few of the dreams we’ve turned into a reality below.


Berlin Brandenburg International School

Working alongside the team at BBIS, we created a new website to help achieve their goals. The new website boasts a hero video, call to action, and custom icons, showcasing key offerings in a visually aesthetic way while drawing on key elements of the school’s brand and style. Image: BBIS School WebsiteKey custom features

  • A custom-designed sticky sidebar to aid user navigation 
  • All visual elements (icons, fonts, colors, and images) are designed inline with BBIS brand guidelines
  • User-friendly design created according to UX/UI best practices

Download our free guide: The Ultimate Guide to School Website Design 

Somerville House

When landing on the Somerville House school website, users are greeted with a header carousel, customized to showcase the school’s content. Navigation to this website is unique, adding to Somerville’s new brand style, offering specialized user interactions and distinct hover styles. Somerville’s school website shows that even subtle customization can enhance the overall website experience. 

Image: Somerville House school websiteKey custom features

  • Custom navigation
  • Unique user interactions and hover styles
  • Multi-media carousel 


Themed school websites


Let’s start by defining just what exactly a ‘themed’ website is. Themed websites leverage a pre-built template design in order to shorten the design and development timeline. While custom websites have their advantages when it comes to strategy and design, a themed website is a perfect option for schools with a smaller budget or shorter timeframe. 

All of our themed websites are designed by our in-house team according to UI/UX best practices and are optimized for all screens and devices. A huge pro for themed websites is the functionality of a modern website without the price tag of a custom website. Now, we know what you might be thinking…‘But, won’t our website look like every other school in our district?’ Don’t worry, your themed website will still be unique to your school by drawing on your colors, images, and logos. Plus, we offer a wide range of themed website styles to decrease the chance of similarities. 


Calvary Christian College 

The Calvary Christian College theme website features an image carousel, clear navigation, and simple to update content blocks. As promised, the College’s branding remains strong and intact through its distinct brand colors, logos, and imagery. 

Image: Calvary Christian College school website


Central Coast Adventist School

Looking to the Central Coast Adventist School’s themed website now, we can see different themed templates in action. We helped to create a clean, fun school website with simple navigation and impactful imagery. Pre-defined content blocks allow for the inclusion of testimonials, accordions, tuition fee calculators, and more!

Image: Central Coast Adventist School website

Weighing it all up

Well, there you have it: custom vs. themed school websites. There was a lot of information to unpack here, so to give you a hand, we’ll break down which style is right for your school with a handy checklist.

Go custom if...

  • You have a larger budget to work with 
  • Your project timeline allows for a longer development period
  • You’re looking for unique style and flexibility over your competitors
  • You want to design your website around your school’s content 

Go themed if...

  • You’re after a more affordable option 
  • You’re working on a shorter project timeline
  • Customization isn’t a huge priority

No matter which option you choose, you can rest assured that you’re in safe hands. We’ll work with you every step of the way to create the perfect school website that helps to reach your goals. Talk to our friendly team about getting started with a Digistorm Website today.