It’s no secret that a quality website is key to the success of a business these days – and that website templates dominate a large percentage of active sites today. Why? To put it simply, templates are easy to use, especially for people who aren’t web designers. But this ease of use comes with a steep price: basic features, limited functionality, and little flexibility.
Here are our top 8 reasons why we discourage our clients from using the basic templates available on DIY-web design sites.
They Aren’t Very Flexible
Sure, you can change the content and upload your own images, but that doesn’t say much about the customization of a template. Templates don’t offer much flexibility because they’re all designed off of similar models – keeping the cost of creating and maintaining these templates rock bottom for whoever designs them. This means that a website designed with a template can never be unique.
They Often Have Hidden Issues
Most templates look great on the surface, with flashy samples that are supposed to be realistic representations of their abilities. In reality, these samples are often designed to hide issues within the code that can cause issues. Often, they also show features that you only have access to if you pay an extra fee.
The fact that templates are cheap might be the main reason you’re interested in them – but the old adage holds: You get what you pay for. Templates are cheap because, when you’re done adding your text and photos, it’s going to look cheap.
If you’re willing to spend extra money, you can get more elaborate, more expensive templates that are going to offer more customization options. But, at that point, you could have just hired a website designer to build a custom website for you.
People Will Recognize Them
Websites that specialize in selling cheap website packages with templates often put a lot of their money into advertising. This means that many consumers will know who these websites are, and even what their templates look like. Even if a consumer isn’t familiar with a particular template, issues like poorly designed navigation and generic titles or content will be enough for most to know that you didn’t invest in a custom website. While you may wonder, who cares how your website was built? The fact is that people are a lot about the appearance and usability of your website. So much so that you have just 4 seconds before a user judges your website, with ⅔ reporting leaving unappealing or difficult-to-navigate sites in favor of a competitor.
They May Not be Responsive
In recent years, more templates have become available that are indeed responsive, so this isn’t an issue with all of them. However, there are still some that are not responsive, especially the least expensive ones. And with over half of all website traffic now coming from mobile devices, responsiveness is extremely important for businesses to serve their potential customers.
If you do have a non-responsive template, there are some plugins available that can fix this issue, but they pose an extra monthly cost on top of your other website fees.
They’re Not Unique
DIY websites that rely on templates often categorize them by industry, which means that literally every other user in the same industry as your business is choosing from the same templates. This means that there are potentially hundreds of websites offering the same products or services that look extremely similar to yours. And if you think that users aren’t going to notice that, you’re wrong. Today’s users are extremely web-savvy, and notice everything from similar themes to misspellings on your website – and every noticeable error or inconsistency is a way to lose users to your competitors.
They Don’t Change
It’s no secret that the online world is constantly changing and evolving. One of the biggest downsides to templates is that they do not change over time. If you want to update your site, that means having to pick a new template and redo all of your content and images as well. On the other hand, if you don’t ever update you’re likely to fall behind in terms of appearance and usability, which means losing potential customers.
SEO Will Probably Be an Issue
While it is likely possible to find templates that have been designed with SEO in mind, but this is more often the exception than the rule. The designers who make these templates aren’t going to be willing to – and might not even have the proper training or experience to – spend the extra time required to make templates SEO-friendly. What’s more, changes users make can interfere with any SEO tactics that may actually be present.
There are some things you can do on your own to boost SEO for templated websites, if you have the know-how. This includes things like personalizing your titles, including meta lists and meta descriptions, labeling your photos, including a custom logo, and having SEO-friendly content with relevant keywords at the proper density. Sound a bit complicated? That’s because it is, and it’s why you should hire a professional website design company.
Does Your Business Need a New Website?
While one of the most appealing things about trying to DIY your website is that it saves you money up front, in the long run, it is likely to cost you money in lost sales. Believe it or not, having an agency build your website for you isn’t as expensive as you may think, especially if you need a website with less than 10 pages.
At Gulf Coast Web, we have over 25 years of experience in managing all types of digital design and marketing campaigns – even for companies outside of our immediate area. Our staff consists of highly-trained digital design advertising professionals who are both passionate about their jobs and excel at what they do. Contact us today to book a consultation with our team. We look forward to outlining exactly how we can help you grow your business with our digital media agency services.