Using website templates is seen, by some people, as a short cut, a cop out or the action of a cheapskate. Presumably these detractors, when decorating their own homes, employ skilled artisans to create murals or stenciled designs, rather than lowering themselves to using mass produced wallpaper or standard paint colours. It may be a rather tortured analogy, but the reality is that as few companies require a custom-designed website as householders require hand-painted Chinese silk wallpaper. Large companies and those that are brand focused undoubtedly benefit from the kudos that a unique, high-impact website design brings. Similarly, companies which operate in the sphere of design, marketing or advertising tend to have custom websites as a showcase for their own creative talent. However, for the majority of businesses the pragmatic decision is to use a template to design a website and rely on graphic elements, together with a little design flair, to make the website their own.
So what are the advantages of using a web design template?
If you decide to create a website based on a template, you’ll have hundreds, or perhaps even thousands of suitable designs from which to choose. This degree of choice can appear overwhelming, but it’s easy enough to whittle this down to a shortlist from which to make the final selection. In contrast, if you opt for a custom designed website, you may be given the impression that you’re steering the design process, but in reality it’s the graphic or web designer that retains control over decision making.
One-off web design projects that are delivered on time and to budget are as common as porcine fly pasts. Inevitably web developers blame clients for prolonging the development process by making fundamental changes as the project progresses, while secretly using it as an excuse to escalate the charges. If you opt for a template based website design, you see an example of the finished website before the project begins. Yes, there may still be wrangling over the design and functionality, but you cut out a month or two of painful decision making about the fundamentals of the website’s design.
Cost is the decisive factor in the argument for choosing a website template. Using a professionally designed template to create a website for your business will save you a fortune. You may still need to employ a website developer to realise your website, but you’ll be swapping the modest cost of buying the template for the considerable fees charged by a graphic designer to create a one-off website design.
It may seem odd to suggest that a template based website will be of higher quality than a one-off design. The reality, though, is that because the same template is being used by a few hundred sites, it is thoroughly ‘road tested’ on an ongoing basis. Companies that develop web templates put considerable efforts into ensuring that the products are accessible, standards compliant, cross-browser compatible and search engine friendly. Individual web design often fails in one or more of these areas, when the pursuit of the aesthetic ideal results in website that fails both user and the business needs of the client.
If there is a disadvantage in using website templates, it’s the risk that one of your competitors could, inadvertently or deliberately, create an identical looking site to your own. It’s a risk worth taking, considering the pain and money you’ll save your business by opting to use a website template.