Reasons not to use a template for web site design

I’d like to touch on a subject which gets web designers such as myself all steamed up from time to time. Before you decide to choose a template web site design over custom design and development, consider the pros and cons below…

PROS of using a template web design:

  1. Cost-effective. Since it is already built and programmed, the initial cost is less. There would be some definite time in placing your content, text and images, but a good portion of the work is already done.
  2. See exactly what you’re getting. You can see how the site works before you purchase it, which is nice to know what you’d be getting. It’s set. What you see is what you get, no surprises.
  3. Faster turnaround. Since the design and most of the programming is already complete, the end date of your timeline will reflect this.

CONS of using a template web design:

  1. For starters, it’s not tailored to your company or industry. Templates are built to satisfy a multitude of companies, so they are not focused on any one specific industry or way of doing business. Furthermore, it’s better to create a design around your business than to retrofit a pre-structured site with content about your company. And this could take some time in of itself, which would drive up cost.
  2. Not Original. Unless you purchase the “unique price” (which means you buy the rights to the web design), there is a good chance that another company will use the same site. Even if the other business(es) are not in your industry, it would be quite embarrassing for you or one of your potential clients to see another site just like yours.
  3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Most templates are not optimized for SEO and will not help your company get to the top of list of Google, Yahoo and Bing. It may take longer to re-program a template site with semantic html markup than it would be to program the site from the ground up.
  4. Templates can be limiting. Since what you see is what you get, it can be very difficult to add functionality. Let’s say you wanted a feature that is not included in the template. It would take breaking down the template and rebuilding it to include this feature—another way to drive up cost.
  5. Content Management. The majority of template designs out there are not tied to a Content Management System (CMS). If you intend to use a CMS to make updates yourself, you’re looking at another example of breaking down the template and rebuilding it. It’s better to know this up front and to build the web design from the ground up around the functionality you need.
  6. Scalability. Your company grows, your web site should too. If built from the ground up, a custom design can cater to this aspect with the company’s needs and aspirations in mind.
  7. What you see might not be exactly what your designer gets. It’s impossible to know what kind of files and how much support you will get until the template is purchased. The designer knows what he/she can build, but has no idea of knowing what to expect once getting into the files. There could be additional time associated with learning how someone else authored the html code.
  8. Not user-friendly. Ever tried to use a service that offers “professionally designed web site templates?” Well, good luck making changes and updates. You can make a mess of a site real quick trying to do it yourself with a pre-fab template.

As you can see, there are a lot more cons to employing a template design for your web site. I’m not saying that I’ve never modified a template for a client. In fact, the opposite is quite true, which is exactly why I know the pros and cons. And I’m not saying that templates aren’t a good fit for your company, but the majority of businesses will benefit through the uniqueness and longevity of a custom designed web site.

Looking to get your custom web site designed by a professional designer? Contact m.e.designlab today for a free estimate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *