The Issue with ‘Off the Shelf’ Website Design Templates

There is no denying that in the short term, grabbing a pre-made ready to go template for your new website seems tempting. If you don’t know coding, design, or have a lot of money or time to spend it might seem better to at least have something. Plus, nothing can beat that instant gratification right? Maybe you convince yourself you can always change it down the road. Here are the top reasons not to fall into the trap of ‘off the shelf’ templates.

It’s all in the name. A pre-made template is just that, pre-built, pre-designed, and often overwhelmingly generic. You may not see this as a big deal but stop and think about some of your favorite websites. Each and every design has something that stands out and makes it unique in the ocean of others out there on the web. Do you really want to entrust your business to something that’s basically cookie cutter? The challenge of growing a new brand is hard enough without battling against hundreds or thousands of others who will end up looking mind numbingly similar.

Beyond being generic a pre-made template is hard to work with from a design perspective. You’ll most likely be restricted with the size and placement of any images and logos. Things like menus, fonts, coloring, background, and separate pages usually can’t be customized either. Sometimes there are workarounds but often these lead to a confusing mess behind the scenes which can lead to errors on the site itself. This will ultimately mean your website is confusing and hard for others to navigate.

When designers create the code and aesthetic for a prefabricated template, they aren’t thinking about your needs. These templates are basic on purpose, this is done so they can meet the requirements of a wider audience. The needs of a food critic are completely different than those of an author or freelance blogger. No matter what your business happens to be, a ready made template isn’t designed with you in mind. Even templates that come with customer support, as they should, can only offer so much help. It’s doubtful anyone will be willing to write completely new code without charging you hefty fees.

When choosing how to lay out your website and all the decisions that go with it you may not be thinking of the future. The reality however is that as your business grows you’ll need the ability to adapt your website right along with it. Any pre-made template isn’t going to be structured to be able to easily change when that time comes around. Let’s say for example a freelance blogger doesn’t see the benefit of having a photo gallery when they choose a template to purchase. Months down the road after having a few new clients they realize that having a gallery of photos is exactly what the website needs to truly show off their skills and talents. However the template they chose doesn’t have the capability to adapt to this new need. Often the only choice is to completely change the website which can lose you valuable ground with your brand recognition, or limit your growth potential.

Having a website comes with a bit of work you may not be aware of. The most common issue users have with pre-built templates is surrounding plugins. Poorly written, mismanaged, and out of date plugins will leave your business vulnerable to hackers, spammers, denial of service attacks, and more. If you aren’t tech savvy this side of of web development can be overwhelming which is even more reason to be careful when it comes to something as important as your business. You may not know what invalidated inputs or buffer overflow mean but your template designer might not either. In the end, you’ll be the one figuring out how to fix the problem, not them.

The reality is pre-built templates will not help you grow your business. We’ve discussed how generic they can be, how they can’t possibly meet your personal needs, and the lack of adaptability. The real issue behind those problems is that it inhibits your business from really growing to what it could truly be. There is no mistake that it might be easier and less time consuming and possibly even cheaper in some cases to go with a pre-made template. In the long run, this can be a very costly mistake.

You don’t have to spend great amounts of time learning code to have a customized website. There are services available that can work with your directly to meet the needs of your specific business. It is smart however to shop around and know what you are talking about. The future of your business is worth the investment and so is your peace of mind.

If you would like to discuss a project with us, or have any questions about our web design services then drop us a line.

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