Website templates- good or bad?
Website templates can save you some money when designing a new website, but are the savings equal to or greater than the actual cost?
The reason for this post is because I have been receiving some interest from people who would like to design a new website for their business, but do not want to spend a lot of money doing it. As a result, inquiries regarding website templates (thanks to Google, no doubt!) have been coming into my quote request area on this website more than ever! As I always take the time to explain all options, I thought it would be wise to write a couple of key points that should be considered when deciding between a website template or a custom designed website.
Why would you choose a website template over a custom design? The first, and most obvious reason, is cost. Website templates are usually mass produced (no, not in a factory) but by web designers whose sole business is designing templates and selling them. When deciding on layouts, designers usually do some research into the market they are designing the website template for. They review some of the most popular website in the industry, get a sense of similarities between the designs, then come up with some generic which seems to fit. They may offer some options, like different colours, different page widths, etc but the general template remains the same.
Why is this an issue. It’s isn’t really an issue, but the first thing to keep in mind is that potentially hundreds of other people have purchased the exact same design. People who purchase website templates are looking to save money, so the chances of them modifying the website template so it does not even resemble the original template is very slim… graphics and colours will be updated, of course, to match their logos but that’s usually about it. There have been a couple of times I can remember when a client has shown me a website template they want to purchase, and I say to myself (and the client) “I have seen this website before… somewhere else”. The problem with this is that your website loses it’s uniqueness, and the chances of someone visiting the website and thinking to themselves that they have seen this design somewhere else is high, or at least higher than it should be!
The second thing to keep in mind is that your website is your online identity (for your business, that is). Most people who visit your website may be first time visitors, and if you don’t have a brick and mortar shop, or don’t allow walk ins at your office, then that’s all they will ever physically see about your business. If you use a website template and the website does not look unique enough, or doesn’t have a ‘wow’ factor, chances are you will bore the visitor who will then navigate to another site, and you have then potentially lost business… Now, I’m not saying that a website template will result in loss of business; don’t get my wrong! It’s just that the nature of online business has changed drastically over the last few years. Websites need to be extremely attractive, fast, easy to navigate and encourage the visitor to come back as often as possible. Website templates usually don’t deliver on these points.
The main benefit to a custom designed website is that is it unique (usually!) and it is designed to match your logo and style. This immediately shows when you see it, and most web surfers nowadays can identify a website template from a custom designed website.
In short, when looking to design a website and save money, try and save money on other things but don’t cheap out on the design… trust me, it will come back to haunt you soon enough.