Should You Try A DIY Website Template?

If you’re in need of a great web design, but don’t have a huge budget, then a do-it-yourself website template – like the ones you see advertised on television and YouTube – might seem like the perfect solution. As the ads point out, the advantage of these services is that your new website is essentially already built. You just have to fill in your content to make it your own.

In a perfect world, that would make the business web design process fast, convenient, and affordable. So, should you try a DIY website template?

Finding the best answer probably depends a great deal on your specific situation. If you’re an entrepreneur on a shoestring budget, then working with a web template service might be your best option. In other words, if your choices are between a template site and no website at all, then it makes sense to take advantage of the savings.

However, if you run an established company, or are trying to build a business that will become and remain profitable for years to come, then a template probably isn’t your best choice. In fact, even a brand-new startup is going to outgrow a template very quickly, making the process of designing a better business website more expensive later.

To help you understand why, and to point you towards a good decision for your business and bottom line, let’s look at a few reasons you might want to stay away from pre-built web design services

Your Website Will Look Like Thousands of Others

Have you ever noticed how similar so many websites look these days? Ever been through the process of trying to find the exact product or service you’re looking for and running into dozens of generic choices that aren’t quite right?

Your customers have been through the same thing, and they aren’t willing to settle for anything that’s less than what they want or expect. Why should they, when the next competitor or search result is just a click away? That understanding leads us to the number one drawback of DIY web templates: the finished versions all look alike. They have to because they are built from the same layout, structure, and font package.

Your goal as a business owner or marketer is to stand out and attract the customers who are a perfect fit for what you have to offer. That’s virtually impossible if your website seems like a cookie-cutter copy of the others that already exist in your business or industry. If there isn’t anything that sets you apart online, buyers probably aren’t going to take the time to figure out what you’re unique selling advantages look like.

Again, a lack of originality might not be your biggest problem if you’re just about to open your doors and only have a small marketing budget to work with. But, it won’t take long for a generic website that looks like thousands of others to start holding you back.

You Won’t Own Your Website

Assume for a moment that you overcome the challenges associated with having a website that isn’t as original as it could be and manage to attract lots of fans and customers. It isn’t likely to happen, but it’s not impossible, either.

In this scenario you might run into a second issue that’s just as troublesome – namely that you wouldn’t own your own website. Any competitor could come in and copy your exact layout and choices to use as their own.

For this reason, you are doomed no matter what you do with a template site. If you try to stand out in the marketplace, you run into issues that stem from having a layout that looks like thousands of others. And, if you somehow figure out a way to turn a profit despite the fact you are going to see lots of copycat websites pop up out of nowhere.

Some of the copied websites may even be used by your closest competitors. Because you won’t be able to hide the source of your website (templates are marked as such by the companies that host them) you can’t prevent someone else from following your example.

As a side note, we should point out that the ownership issue has another dimension. Namely that some web template agreements specify that the hosting company owns content posted on, or moving through, their servers. So, you could end up in a situation where your template company technically owns everything on your site, even if you provide your own text and photos.

Your Website Performance Might Suffer

One often-ignored problem with template websites is that even when they look good they don’t often perform as well as business owners might like. Because they are created to be used by virtually any type of client or customer, they have to be packed with tons of fonts, plug-ins, and features to be adaptable.

This can sound like an advantage, but it rarely works that way. That’s because everything that’s added to a website – even if it’s just as simple as a new font or graphics package – takes up space and bandwidth. Some features (like shopping carts and currency converters) require programming and extra bits of code.

There’s no problem adding to your website when it’s just a few features or tools. When you start stacking up dozens or hundreds of them, though, you are virtually certain to run into problems. That’s partly because all that extra code has to be sent to anyone who visits the site, meaning it’s going to load very slowly in their web browser. However, there are also issues that arise when different plug-ins or add-on’s conflict with one another. Then you could have errors, page crashes, or even online security concerns.

The issue of overcrowding in your web HTML is one that’s incredibly difficult to resolve. For one thing, you can’t get deep into the code on your own template site, and most business people wouldn’t want to anyway. Even worse, template services are continually adding new features to keep up with each other. So, their websites get bigger and bigger, even though the extra tools or visuals aren’t needed.

You’ll Have to Upgrade Your Business Website Eventually

All the issues with DIY web templates we have laid out so far are significant and should give you pause if you’re thinking about using one of these services. However, the biggest issue is also the one that is most likely to impact your bottom line: if you build your website with a web template you’ll probably have to replace it before too long.

There are numerous reasons this ends up being the case. As we’ve already mentioned, most template sites aren’t effective in increasing sales or generating leads. So, business owners will eventually be faced with the reality that they need something new if they want real business results. Or, they may run into a situation where they can’t seem to pull in search visits from Google because their page loading times are slow, causing search spiders to send traffic elsewhere. They might even eventually reach a point where they simply want something that’s better and more tailored to the company.

When these situations arise, the logical answer is to turn to a talented and experienced web design team that can build a custom site from scratch. However, that’s going to be more difficult (and expensive) if a template was originally used. That’s because there will be content that has to be moved from one set of pages to another without touching the underlying HTML. Additionally, there could be damage that has to be undone with regards to branding and search engine optimization.

The point here is that in business web design, like anything else in life, it pays to take a long-term approach rather than saving a few dollars today even though it will cost you more down the road.

Looking for Real Value in Business Web Design?

The best way to get real value from a business web design is by working with a professional who will take the time to get to know your business and get your company moving with the perfect layout, content, and plug-ins. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune, just that you should pay as much attention to what you’ll get months and years from now, as you do the initial cost.

At WebWize in Houston we specialize in helping our clients to make the most of their budgets and schedules with web design and development services focused on bottom-line growth. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and see how we can help your business!

About Glenn Brooks

Glenn Brooks is the founder of WebWize, Inc. WebWize has provided web design, development, hosting, SEO and email services since 1994. Glenn graduated from SWTSU with a degree in Commercial Art and worked in the advertising, marketing, and printing industries for 18 years before starting WebWize.