Bespoke vs. off-the-shelf: is bespoke always best?
We take a look at whether using bespoke components is always the better choice when building a web site.

At IE, we prefer to opt for a bespoke, Drupal CMS approach when building websites for clients.  However, our latest website project challenged our digital experts to use off-the-shelf WordPress components to build a straightforward, tightly-budgeted web site within a tight timeframe - as per the client's request.

Maybe cycling champions, Guy Martin and Chris Froome could help us explain…

On a bespoke frame,  TT racer Guy Martin broke a world record for outright speed on a bike. In this case - to break a Guinness world record - only a bespoke product would do. He needed to consult with a specialist who could tailor make a bike specific to his needs. A specialist who would thoroughly research, test and analyse every single component. This is similar to the way IE’s consultants prefer to approach projects too.

In comparison, Chris Froome rode his way to victory at the 2015 Tour de France on a Pinarello Dogma F8 - a bike you or I  could easily purchase right now. But despite it being a ready made, off-the-shelf bike, he’d still have sought advice from a team of experts and technicians who would have configured the bike to his specific needs. Our latest web site project used a similar approach, using off-the-shelf components, combined with the expertise of our digital and design teams. Our teams worked together to hand-pick and fine tune the best components vital to optimise the ride.

Would you buy a Guy Martin bespoke bike, if an off-the-shelf version delivered the same smooth ride? Probably not. My point is that an off-the-shelf product can deliver winning results as long as it’s in the hands of an expert.

So, what are the pros and cons to going off-the-shelf?


  • Visibility: The client can view a fully responsive, working prototype of the site in real time
  • Speed: Access to a huge library of pre-built components at your fingertips
  • Cost saving: Pre-built components that require minimal researching, testing and analysing


  • Constraints: Less flexible than a bespoke approach
  • Ongoing support: Wordpress components are often developed by individuals, so ongoing support is not guaranteed
  • Templated designs: Pre-built design templates can look too generic without a top-notch designers flair


As always, in the ever-evolving world of digital, the most important thing is to use the right tools for the job at hand.