EJM Designs Limited Blog

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Quick Template Websites Are a Bad Idea

I was reading through my Entrepreneur magazine this past week and could not help notice a 4-page spread from a prominent hosting company pushing one of their new services which amounts to a low-level CMS bounced off a stock of templates. I also recently saw some software that does the same thing from the desktop.

In the spirit of full disclosure (and you probably already know this), I find my livelihood from building - mostly by hand - well-designed, polished, user-friendly websites that are integrated with SEO from the ground up.

That said, here are the top 5 reasons you do not want - and do not want to advise anyone you know - to use a quick-click website builder.

Templates are generally of mediocre design

If you were building a brick-and-mortar store, would you pick a cookie-cutter design that might not necessarily reflect your business? Would you pick something that's near and say "Yeah, that's close enough."? If you answer "yes," then you have some serious alone time ahead of you to focus on marketing and branding.

If there is even a 1% chance that someone could visit a website and see that - hey, that free porn website looks the same as xxx.com's - then you should NOT do that.

Template stores and quick-startup websites are not designed to be friendly. They are designed to be cookie-cutter money makers. Not for you, but for the person selling it to you.

Where's that brand?

Did you get a chance to stick a block graphic that looks utterly out of place on your new site? That's great. But this is no longer 1995 and something that looks like your cousin Jimmy who took a class on web design put the whole thing together does not rock anymore. Simply "being there" passed a decade ago. You need to be polished, user-friendly, and specified to your niche.

Is a professional crafting your content?

You may know your business, but do you know how to craft a keyword-efficient paragraph about your product or service? Is plugging in a few lines about what you do and leaving it at that enough? No. See the previous section on design. Copy is the same. It needs to be not just a slug from a catalog or a scratch from a napkin; this is how people see your business.

This may be the only contact they have to your business.

Are you willing to chance a potential customer or client or sale on something half-assed?

Where's the SEO?

A template is void of Search Engine Optimization for a website. That is because SEO for a website combines a crafting of keywords and phrases in the background code - something that necessarily needs to be done by someone who has experience in HTML coding.

Let's put this point into a tangible analogy: If you wanted to design and send out a postcard to your potential clients or customers, would you hire someone who said "Hey, I sent a postcard to my sister once!"? No. You wouldn't. And if you would, your business would shrivel.

Short answer: You get what you pay for.


I love the hell out of what I do every day of my life. I love helping businesses develop a usable, polished web presence that people can find. But the biggest problem I run into - on a regular basis - is a lack of client education.

It's the stalwart businessman who says anything his cousin put up on the web is gold; it's the woman who owns an investigation company who says "It was good 7 years ago, why not now?"; it's the business owner who asks: "Why do I even need a website?"

"Good enough" is NOT good enough.

Not anymore. You must stand tall against your competition. You must drive new business to a friendly web presence. And you must keep them there long enough to email you, give you a call, or click "Buy."


As always, comments are appreciated, happy or sad.

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