Pros & Cons of Using Website Templates for Web Design
When you need a website, you want it to be published as soon as possible. Time is money. The faster your site goes live, the sooner you can start making sales and generating a list of leads.
If you don’t want to hire a professional website designer to build your site from scratch, you can buy a premade template instead. If that’s the direction you’re leaning towards, consider the following points before making your decision.
- 5 Advantages when using website templates
- 8 Disadvantages when using website templates
- 1. It’s hard to get perfect branding
- 2. You might have to pay for updates
- 3. You need CSS and HTML knowledge to make changes
- 4. You won’t get exactly what you need
- 5. It could take time to realize your template isn’t right
- 6. Templates tend to look the same
- 7. It’s easy to miss out on great templates
- 8. Free templates are often poorly-coded
- Need a web design agency? We’ll build you a custom site or install your template
5 Advantages when using website templates
If you’re thinking about building your website using a template, here are several benefits to this option.
1. You can publish your site faster
When you use a website template, you’ll get your website published faster than if you have a design created from scratch. If you know how to install and customize a template, you could be up and running in one day if you work hard enough.
Templates are speedy compared to the time it takes to work with a professional designer, who needs time to capture your vision and send ideas back and forth for your approval.
2. Templates provide simplicity and ease
For businesses and individuals who just need a simple website, templates are perfect. The website templates categorized as ‘minimal’ are usually the best option for basic content. These are designs that don’t have a lot of fancy images or graphic design. Some of these templates are one-page designs, which makes building your site even easier.
If you can find a simple web template that meets your needs out of the box, you won’t need to do much work to build your website. You’ll just need to replace some images and change the placeholder text and then you can go live.
3. Web templates are affordable
If you have basic needs, a template is your most affordable option. Most templates cost under $100 with some exceptions for themes that have been developed with extensive functionality. Compared to the cost of hiring a professional designer to create your website from scratch, you can’t beat the price of a template.
When you’re building your website on a platform like Shopify WordPress, or Squarespace, you can get themes with specific functions built in. For example, WordPress developers often build specific functionality into their themes and/or create plugins that come with each theme to add features. For example, some themes come with PPC landing page templates, built-in shopping carts, and advanced e-commerce capabilities like currency conversion and more.
You can pay a designer to create a theme with additional functionality, but if there’s an existing template that does what you need, it will cost you less. The only downside to this is that you might need more features than the standard package. In that case, you can hire a developer to complete the additional customizations you need.
5. You can have a developer install your template
If you don’t know how, or don’t want to install your template, you can hire a professional developer to do it for you. This is better than using trial and error, scouring YouTube for tips, and trying to figure out how to fix portfolio HTML template errors.
If you’ve always wanted to learn HTML and CSS, installing your website template could be a great learning opportunity for you if you’re not in a hurry to publish your website. However, when you need your site to go live, just hand it over to a pro.
8 Disadvantages when using website templates
Now that we’ve covered the benefits, let’s dive into the disadvantages of using web templates.
1. It’s hard to get perfect branding
When you have a specific style of branding, you want your entire website to reflect that image as precisely as possible. However, that’s challenging with web design templates. For instance, an existing design will have stock images in various places and you’ll need to replace each one with an image of your own. Problem is, the placement of these images might not benefit your brand perception. With a template, you’re stuck with the design’s layout whether or not it works for you.
Some people just replace the template’s logo, customize the colors, and call it a day, but branding involves more than making sure your logo and website colors match. Even the shape of your website’s design should reflect your brand. For instance, if you use rounded corners in your branding, you’ll want to incorporate rounded corners into your website’s design somehow. If you run a physical store and your brand is known for having large aisles and open areas, your website design should be equally spacious.
All of these things are difficult to get with a website template and require the custom work of a professional designer.
2. You might have to pay for updates
Keeping your templates updated is imperative to maintain a secure website. If you’re using PHP templates, like free WordPress themes, failing to update your core files can make your website vulnerable to attackers.
Depending on where you purchase your website template, your ability to get updated files for free will vary. For example, if you buy a theme directly from the designer, you might get updates and support for six to twelve months, but after that, you’ll need to pay. On other sites, like ThemeForest, your support will expire several months after your purchase, but you’ll continue to receive emails each time there’s an update available for a theme you’ve purchased.
If you absolutely fall in love with a premade template, paying for updates isn’t a bad thing. Having your website look and function exactly the way you want is worth every penny. However, if you’ve merely settled for a template, it’s not worth paying for updated files. Your money is better spent paying a developer for a custom theme.
3. You need CSS and HTML knowledge to make changes
When you use a website template, you’ll need HTML and CSS knowledge to make certain changes. Even if you’re using WordPress and your theme has a built-in visual editor, you’ll still need to know color codes and how to use classes in order to customize your design.
When you work with a website designer, they’ll set you up with the right CSS styles from the start. If you want to change anything, you can ask them to make some adjustments and you won’t need to know any code.
4. You won’t get exactly what you need
Since there is no actual design process involved in getting a template, you won’t get exactly what you need. You can get close, but no template will be perfect for your needs. You’ll always need some kind of customization, even if it’s just the typography. If there’s anything you can’t change, you’ll just have to settle for it as-is.
If you don’t mind hiring a web designer to customize your template, you can end up with a near-perfect design. However, if you’re going to pay for design services it makes more sense to hire a designer to create your website from scratch. If you need structural changes, it might actually cost the same (or more) to have a designer edit an existing design to meet your needs.
5. It could take time to realize your template isn’t right
When you start using a template, there’s a possibility that you might get most of your website built and then realize the template doesn’t fully meet your needs. For example, you might start building your site on a WordPress theme and then realize the theme creator eliminated the ability to have a sidebar with widgets. Or, you might not realize that the theme doesn’t give desktop users a real main menu and only has a hamburger menu for mobile sites.
These kinds of small details are big dilemmas because they impact usability. For instance, hamburger menus are great for mobile devices, but they’re not ideal for desktop users. A good website design should offer desktop users a standard navigation menu and only switch to a hamburger menu when the screen size falls below a certain size, usually 600 pixels.
If you don’t notice all of the details before you buy a template, you’ll find out it’s not ideal after you’ve done a lot of work. Then, you’ll need to buy another template, start rebuilding your site, and hope it doesn’t happen again.
6. Templates tend to look the same
How many times have you visited a website for the first time and thought it looked familiar? There’s a reason for that. Many of today’s website templates have the same general look and feel. This is in part because web designers create new templates based on what seems to be selling the best, and so they create new variations of best-selling designs in order to maximize their sales.
If you don’t want your website to look like every other design out there, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a template unique enough to call your own. You won’t get a true design without working with a professional.
7. It’s easy to miss out on great templates
Some template designers create unique designs, but they’re usually marketed to specialized niches and it’s hard to see past the themed stock photos to see the potential in these templates. For example, a template marketed as a “food blog” theme with images of fancy meals won’t catch attention from someone looking for a template for a dog toy website. However, the structure of the food blog template might be perfect for that dog toy website.
This is one of the biggest problems with templates. It’s easy to keep scrolling and miss the perfect design when the stock photos don’t reflect your industry. Template designers use amazing stock photos to market their themes to specific niches. When looking through templates, train yourself to ignore stock photos and scrutinize each template with a technical eye to know if it will work for your website. Otherwise, you’ll miss your ideal theme.
8. Free templates are often poorly-coded
Design issues aside, the biggest issue with some free templates is that they are coded poorly. A template design that looks amazing on the front end might actually be designed with bad code.
The result could be a broken design, misaligned elements, and incompatibility with certain web browsers.
Need a web design agency? We’ll build you a custom site or install your template
Are you weighing the pros and cons of using a website template because you’re on a budget? If you need a professional website from a creative agency and you’re not sure about using free or cheap or minimal portfolio template online, we can help. At website.design, our team of professional website developers can work with you to build a custom site from scratch or we can install a pre-existing template for you and make any customizations you need.
To learn more about our web design agency services, contact us today and tell us about your project. We’d love to work with you!
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