As you might expect, there are pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to opt for a generic template instead of a custom designed site, unique to your business and your requirements but as the title suggests, here we will concentrate on the cons.
You may check out the pros in the following article:
So, why should you not use templates for your website? Well for starters, they can be so bloody generic and any designer who uses them for a client’s site, either doesn’t possess a creative bone in his body or is downright bone idle but at very least demonstrates little understanding and even concern for the client and his unique needs.
OK, the previous statement might be a little harsh because in circumstances where budget, turnaround or both is critical, the use of a good template can be warranted – see footnote.
One of the obvious problems with using templates is that anybody else may use the same. You should know that the better the design is, the more popular it will be and sooner or later you will bump into your clone in cyberspace. Just imagine if that clone is in fact a particularly degrading adult site. How embarrassing could that potentially be for you? This is doubly so should the template be used on a competitor’s website!
Your template (along with potentially hundreds of others identical to it) will require a certain amount of customising. There is the generic logo or logo placeholder, for example. Replacing it will no doubt mean resizing your current logo at very least, or at worst, could require a complete redesign in order to fit. These prosaic designs insist that you remain within the constraints of it’s design or else accept the consequences and that is not how the design process goes. Web design follows logo design, not the reverse.
The logo is not the only element you will need to alter. There is the text and images to be replaced with your own and so by the time you have actually tweaked it to suit your needs, you may as well have hired a professional to build it from scratch. A word of warning regarding images supplied with templates. Stock imagery rarely comes with copyright permission and by using them in your template, you will often be contravening copyright laws.
Another important issue, although not just restricted to templates, is accessibility or lack thereof. Templates are seldom cross-browser compatible and invariably do not validate according to W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). Any bone fide designer worth his salt should be constructing sites in accordance with W3C. It may not be common knowledge but this is the law! You can easily check any website, web page or template quite simply yourself with the tools found at http://www.w3.org/QA/Tools/. Use both the Markup Validator and the CSS Validator. If the result is a list of errors, do yourself a favour and walk.
Be aware too, that many unscrupulous so-called designers actually have the audacity to claim that the supplied template is in fact the product of their own creative mind. They are quite willing to claim somebody else’s work as their own. Not only this but they would not think twice about making you pay for the non-existent design work; theft in both cases.
Finally, should you decide to take the DIY approach, using a template is a shortcut and like any shortcut, provided you don’t stray too far from the path and you consider the points mentioned above, you should be OK. However, if you are serious about your business and wish to project a professional image, choose a designer.
I am aware that this modest article is not a complete or even a comprehensive contribution to the debate on whether one should or should not use templates and it is by no means a balanced examination of the pros and cons but it may include a few points readers may not have previously encountered and therefore be of some use.
Don’t forget to read ‘The Benefits of Using Website Templates‘, also on the Bendigo Web Design blog.I guess I should point out that here at Bendigo Web Design, we are more than happy to accommodate the budget conscious client by using professional templates from time to time. It considerably reduces the overall turnaround and cost. Enquiries