Pros & Cons of Website Templates
Advantages of using Website Templates
- What you see is what you get. With a readymade website template, you don’t have to imagine what the finished product will look like, whether the web developer you’ve chosen has understood your requirements, whether your website will have to go through several changes and iterations before you’re satisfied with the end-product. The website template can be customized to your requirements by changing the colors, pictures and text so that it ends up looking quite different from the original.
- Speed. Time is money. Your website will be up-and-running within a fraction of the time it takes to develop a custom website – provided, of course, that you have the content and the pictures ready to customize your website template to suit you. A custom-designed website can take months to develop, depending on its complexity. Compare that time-frame to the few days or even hours for a website template to become a full-fledged website.
- Cost. You can get an attractive, professionally-designed website template for as little as $30- $65 dollars. A custom-designed website could cost you anything up to $5,000. You also have access to large numbers of free templates although they are limited in design and functionality, and you may not get the technical support you need.
- Choice. Thanks to all the competition on the internet, you can pick and choose from an abundance of designs and packages to suit your requirements. Think of it – a custom-designed website would give you just 2 or three options to choose from. On the web you are spoilt for choice when it comes to website templates.
- Looks. The look of the site attracts visitors to your site. Readymade website templates are designed by the professionals who also design custom templates. You have access to topnotch design quality without having to pay for custom design. You can browse around and choose from thousands of attractive web template designs on the web. However, you will find that some companies on the web offer website templates of a higher quality than others. Don’t get carried away by the aggressive sales pitches on some sites. Use your discretion when choosing a web template that will say a lot about your company.
Note: You can choose any website template that you like the look and feel of, and customize it to your needs. Don’t get cramped for style by looking only for templates in your line of business. You can choose a music template, for instance, and customize it to a food template.
- Functionality. Professionally designed website templates will come pre-loaded with standard pages like ‘home’, ‘about’, ‘services’, and ‘contact’. Other website templates will give you add-on features to showcase a portfolio/photo gallery, or communication/community networking features like a blog, newsletter or bulletin board. More complex website templates and e-commerce websites will offer dynamic features like online ordering, credit card processing and live chat. Remember that all these features will require backend support from your hosting company in order to function properly.
- Navigation. How your website template looks is only half the story. What you want to know is how it works. How easy is it for your customer to find the content he’s looking for? How consistent are the navigation links throughout the site? Does your visitor clearly know where he is, where to go, and how to get back to where he started from? Website templates give you a feel for the navigation of your site.
Disadvantages of using Website Templates
Despite all the very real advantages of website templates, you should pause and consider some of the disadvantages. For example, how easy is it to customize the template to your requirements? Do you have the skills or the software to do it yourself?
- Not exclusive and unique.
Website templates are downloaded and used by many hundreds of users. So they are not exclusive and unique to your own company. You may end up with a website that is a clone of many others. If you want to ensure that no-one else buys the same website template, you will have to pay many times the price. Besides, the same template may have been used by customers who downloaded it before you got there. You may need to custom-design your website if you want a design exclusive to your company or for your personal use.
- Limitations on customization.
A website template cannot be tweaked beyond a point, so it may end up being non-specific to your requirements. If you have a lot of website content but have chosen a web template with limited space for text, the additional text may change the look of the layout by stretching it. At this point you may decide that the template doesn’t really work for you but you are stuck with it as you have already paid for it and downloaded it.
- Specific software required for customization.
While some website templates are easy to customize, edit and update, using readily available web authoring software like Microsoft Frontpage, others are more complex and require knowledge of photo-editing and website-building tools and coding.
Whether it is Macromedia Dreamweaver or Flash or knowledge of HTML code, you may not have the requisite software or skills to customize, edit and update your website. In this case, you may need to use the services of a web developer to customize and/or update your web template for you.
- Image optimization requires skills.
You have to be familiar with optimizing images for the web so that your pages load quickly. If you don’t have the required skills and photo-editing software for image optimization, this will slow down the website development process and you may need to engage the services of a web developer.
- Search engine optimization is your baby.
Website Templates will only give you the shell of your site. They are not optimized to attract search engines. You will need to do this with your website content. Keep in mind that search engines are more attracted to words than to pictures. A website template with a lot of graphics and Flash animation effects may look attractive, but may take longer to load and will not draw the search engines to your site. So despite the good looks of your Flash website, it may end up lower on search engine rankings.
All in all, the advantages of using website templates outweigh the disadvantages.
While writing content, you need to use the keywords that promote your products or services and attract targeted customers to your site. You will also need to use meta-tags (Title tag, Keywords, Description) to attract the search engines to your web pages. Since content is the heart of your website, it is worth spending the time and energy to write it – or entrust it to a professional content writer.
So, plunge in, choose a web template and get your website going!
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