There are 100,000s of business templates available on marketplaces places like ThemeForest or self-building services like Squareplace or Wix, usually priced below $100, making launching your new company website fast and cheap. So, what are the pros and cons of using a template?
Cons: Why you shouldn’t use templates
They put design before content
A ready-made template forces you to create your content around the design. The odds of finding a template where all the content areas perfectly match your company goals and what you need to communicate to your specific clients are pretty slim. And if you do, you know that hundreds of other businesses similar to yours might use the same website, ruining your chance to stand out.
Your content strategy is influenced by your company – what services or products you offer, your clients – who is your target audience and your competition – what strategies do they use to communicate and what can you do to stand out. This is why a good design process starts with an outline of the content and not with the visual design (colors, type and so on).
Build the design around the content, not the other way around. Figure out what you have to say (content), then how to say it (design).
They lose their polish when you customize them
While most templates advertise themselves as very customizable, the truth is that the way the template looks before you buy it and start modifying it is the best it’s ever going to look.
It’s extremely hard to design something that can be used by a lot of different businesses, with different content and different brand images without making it extremely boring and generic.
So, to increase sells, what most templates do is they put their best foot forward – they use really high-end photography, unrealistic content that fits the layout just right, sections that are eye-catching, but serve no real business purpose and are probably going to be removed by end users.
They can offer a bad user experience
Websites built on templates can be pretty slow, especially compared to a custom built solution. Because a single template needs to address a multitude of different use cases and preferences, they come packed with features and options, and on while you’re using just 10% of all options, the site still loads the code for the other 90%. A slow website can hurt your SEO efforts.
Another thing to consider is security. While really popular templates are built on a solid code foundation, cheaper templates are not so thoroughly built (it takes more time and experience) and might pose security risks.
Pros: When to use templates
Having said that, I do believe there are some scenarios when using a template might be an option for your business website. Specifically, if you’re in one of these cases:
If you’re short on time
If, for example, you just started your company and you have a big event coming up and you have no web presence, then using a template is the quickest way to have something ready in time. That way, you can have a place to direct people you meet.
If you have a very small budget
Using a ready-made template is of course much cheaper than getting a tailor-made solution for your website. Having said that, I’d only advise using a template this scenario for a very short time as it will eventually hurt your long-term business prospects and credibility. You should really treat your corporate website as a long-term investment, a tool that’s meant to increase your business and attract new clients.
If you just need something up temporary, until you get a proper web presence
This is also a good use case, but be advised that if you go down this route, you might end up with the temporary website up for much longer than you planned. If you already have something up, getting a proper website done will start to slip down your priority list.
If the template doesn’t require extensive layout changes and fits with your content
Select a template that is already close to your brand and content. You will run the risk of other businesses having a very similar website and devaluing your brand though.
Using a template as your corporate website can be a quick solution if you’re short on time or money, but will hurt your long-term business prospects because they’re putting design before content.
I hope this article sheds some light on when it’s appropriate to use a template for your corporate website. For more articles like this, please subscribe below, and if you’d like to take your business website to the next level, let’s talk!
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