Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The trouble with Templates

If you're a business owner on a tight budget, pre-designed web templates might look like a great answer for you. And there are a ton of them out there, ranging in price from free to $500+. In addition, there are plenty of companies that let you build "custom websites" without having to hire a pro designer, at relatively inexpensive rates. Pretty great deal, right?

Well, it can be. But more often than not, templates are not your friend, for several reasons:
They're not as "customizable" as you think, especially if you don't know HTML already. Sure, there are some things you can do, but for the most part, you're stuck with what you get... and as your business grows, this lack of flexibility becomes even more annoying, not to mention bad for business.
Support is often insufficient or non-existent. Some companies that provide what's often billed as "website solutions" do provide a high level of service, features, etc. for the price you pay, and can be a good option if you really don't have the cash to spend right now - but most of the lowest-cost options offered through these services are still a Do-It-Yourself situation, which gets frustrating quick if you haven't done this before.
It takes time away from activities that you're already good at, and takes you away from growing your business. When you went into business for yourself, was it because you wanted to learn HTML, SEO or logo design? Unless your business is graphic or web design, the answer is most likely no. Forcing yourself into a situation where you are doing all of the marketing, logo design, etc. for your business not only takes your valuable time away from your business, it forces you to do a lot more work with a lot less results than if you had found the right designer to partner with on your materials.
It sends the wrong message to your customers. Let's face it - you're a professional, and want to be viewed as such. When you do your own website, it shows.

As a fellow entrepreneur, I completely understand the desire to keep costs down - when you're first starting out, it's hard to shell out the bucks to have a professional do your stuff. But a good designer does more than just put together your website - they can provide support and encouragement, and help you separate the things that will work well for you from the "great ideas" that, um, aren't so great. So while a template might get you by for a while, it's worth it to make the investment in your business and work with a professional.


Melissa said...

I definitely concur. Use a design professional, even when you don't think you can. Just because the business is small doesn't mean you have to think small. Getting a logo or website that can compete reasonably well with bigger budget companies can also shift the perspective you hold about your business. If you think big, you'll make different decisions, set different expectations, and quite possibly take bolder actions that generate bolder results.

Dani Nordin said...

Hi Melissa,

Thanks so much for the comments. I agree on all counts - and one of the things that I notice most about my clients after I've worked with them to create their brand and website is the confidence they have in themselves and their business - it really makes such a difference.