Most likely in your travels searching for someone to create you a website, you’ve come across Gary down the road who says he will do you a template for next to nothing.
“Score,” you think, “why would I pay good money when I can get it for cheap?”
If you are a start up business or you have a relatively low budget then maybe this could be your first option, but beware; you certainly get what you pay for. On most occasions these can be more trouble they are worth, and time and time again I see people scrapping them altogether.
Here are some reasons to steer away from templates if you can:
One of the biggest problems with templates is that most of the time they are created by designers. Now I am not having a dig at designers here, if it wasn’t for them all website would look like a Word document Mum got to, but most of the time they focus on looks and not on how they should function, and how users can update and modify the content.
If you purchase a WordPress template, more than likely at some stage you will come across shortcodes. These are little snippets of code that allow you to drop into the visual editor at add in section and modules.
Unfortunately the problem here is that these can become really messy and confusing for the general user and if you put them in the wrong place or type accidentally modify it you it can completely mess up your website.
The general user doesn’t want anything to do with code and if they did they may as well try and build the site themselves and I dare say you don’t have the time and the patience for that.
Any developer worth their salt will want to work their hardest to make sure that the end user never has to deal with code of any type. Not everyone is handy with computers, let alone web markup, so all that you should need to do to update your site is type away.
Say you’re playing around with the site and you bugger something up, bad. What do you do then? Maybe I can go and ask ‘Gary’ down the road, he’s the one who installed it. More than likely, Gary doesn’t have much more knowledge of how the template works than you.
God bless the poor fella, he’s just trying to make a quick buck, but oddly enough he may suddenly go into hiding as soon as the proverbial hits the fan.
From there you are going to have to find someone to who knows what they are doing to find out what is wrong. This could end up being pretty costly as the developer has to sort through the mess the template creator has made.
When it comes to search engine optimisation there are many factors that determine how your site ranks. Going through this could be a whole new story, however one factor that templates can fall down on is site speed.
Opening most templates result in a scene in the page source that looks like this:
This is a whole bunch of libraries of scripting that the site uses to produce all the flashy movements and effects you see on the site. While they look good, most of the time they are unnecessary and are only there to draw you into buying the theme.
Not only are they going to bloat your website and cause it to run slow, which can actually penalise you when it comes to Google rankings, but the calling of these scripts can clog up the top of your website’s code. This pushes the more important sections of your site, like the headings and the content, further down causing them to have less effect on boosting your rankings.
With businesses changing all the time and Google loving your website being updated with new content and information, it may come time to add new functionality to your website.
Not only is the guy who gave you the template going to run for cover, generally most other web developers aren’t going to want to touch your website, not with a ten foot pole.
Having them wade through thousands of lines of code that someone has made a mess of is not only going to be a nightmare for the developer, it will most likely cost you a small fortune to get even the simplest functionality added to your site.
I know I may sound a little bit harsh on the good old web template – don’t get me wrong, they have their place. They are a handy starting point for developers or someone who is on a tight budget and just want to get their name out onto the world wide web. However, you just need to take into the account some of the points above when choosing which path to take with your next website.
Our boss here at Digital Developments, David Rowlands, always mentions that a website is like having sales staff that work for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, never ask for sick leave, superannuation or annual leave and will cost you a lot less than an ongoing salary.
So remember that your website can be one of your most important marketing tools for your business and can be worthwhile investment into your companies success.