The fantastic thing about the digital age is that any business, no matter what its size or revenue, can establish an online presence for barely any outlay. There are lots of free or cheap ways to start reaching your customers, such as signing up for free social media accounts and creating a free website and paying peanuts for hosting.
However, while the easy availability of digital marketing tools does open things up for small business owners and level the playing field a little, there are some things that may be worth paying for. Web design is one of them, as a website is essentially the HQ of your business, the central hub that all of your other online activities refer customers back to.
Some brands make use of free templates to create their websites from scratch, but here are just 5 of the many persuasive reasons you may want to steer clear of templates and opt for a unique custom design instead:
- They look cheap. Templates may be free or very cheap, but unfortunately they look it too. A template has no spark of originality or the intuitive features you find in custom web design, so it could leave your visitors feeling less than inspired.
- Visitors have seen it all before. Although you can modify certain elements of your website template so that it’s not an identikit version of someone else’s when they’re using the same template, the end result is far from unique. Visitors end up recognising them, and in an oversaturated online world where everyone is desperate for something new and exciting, you simply won’t be able to hold their attention.
- They don’t make a strong first impression. An eye tracking study carried out a few years ago by the Missouri University of Science and Technology found that visitors form an opinion of your website within just 0.2 seconds of seeing it, and that it takes just 2.6 seconds for them to decide whether to stay or click away. If you don’t have anything innovative or creative to offer them, they may not need the full 2.6 seconds.
- Not all of them are responsive. Templates have improved over the years, but not all of them will display properly on all mobile devices. With more than 80% of internet users owning a smartphone or similar device, you simply can’t afford not to have a mobile responsive design.
- You may have to pay to fix problems or get extra features. Along with a lack of flexibility, one of the main problems with template designs is that they will never include all of the features you want. Adding on custom features that work with the template can be virtually impossible, or you may find that you have to upgrade to a ‘Pro’ version (defeating the money-saving object of using a template in the first place) to access them.
Do you agree that custom sites are worth the money, and that templates should be swerved – or is using a template to design your website proved to be a great decision? Please feel free to share your thoughts.