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Toronto-based boutique agency specializing in web design and development, identity and print design.
Jul 20

6 ways templated websites are bad for business

You know that free or super-cheap template you’ve been using for your business? It’s costing you more than you think. When it’s obvious your site is built on a free or nexpensive template, it shows you’ve cheaped out on your marketing, which makes your business look small potatoes. But there are other reasons why templated sites aren’t ideal.

They’re not easy to customize. It’s usually not too hard to change colours and images, but if you want to add new elements to the layout or remove something, that can be harder. You might love the idea of a design or concept, but tweaking it could result in something that doesn’t look great or work like you want it to, which is frustrating. And even if you’re working with a developer, he or she will be restricted to the concept you’ve chosen.

Using them takes knowledge. While some website templates are easy to customize, edit and update using software like Microsoft Frontpage, others may require photo-editing, site-building and coding know-how. So if you want to make changes, you’ll probably have to hire a developer to update your template for you.

Templates aren’t turn-key. Most people think all you need to do is add content, upload a few pics and you’re ready to go. It’s not generally that simple. Everything requires decisions and customization including colours, images, widgets and plugins. It may be a more time-consuming process than you think.

They’re not easily scalable. Templates work very well for certain situations, but if you want to change it or make it bigger, you could run into problems. If your website requires more functionality, it will take heavy customization to make the template scale. And that’s not just with the front end appearance of the template, but also the back end, meaning working with someone else’s code.

Free themes/templates may not have updates or support. For example, for most free WordPress themes, you won’t get any support from the company if you’re having trouble installing it. Theme developers create a free theme as a side project and make the updates available in their pro version. No updates mean no security, which leaves your site open to hacking.

It impacts your brand. When the design of your site has already been chosen for you, a template that’s available to anyone is delivering the look and feel of your brand. Establishing a brand for your business and continuing to reinforce it too important to your business to be treated as an afterthought. Plus, it makes your company look like it’s not willing to spend money on marketing. The first question on a customer’s mind will be: “where else have they cut corners?”

A good quality site – one that’s designed specifically for you by people who understand design, SEO and the nuances of your business – is the best way to properly showcase your business online. When it comes to building your brand, the old maxim holds true: you get what you pay for.