Custom vs. Template websites

Some of my more image conscious clients ask me whether a template based website will harm their image more than enhance their image. Fair question I suppose, but it really comes from lack of knowledge.

For an online marketing campaign to be successful, and one can fairly assume anyone who wants a website, wants as many people to open it and be engaged by it as much as possible, there has to be one main element and that is content. Content is the one thing that will make people stay on your site and want to know more about you because you are interesting. Looks come in a mean third after SEO.

Ask a builder to build you a house and you are in the main going to get a square-ish box with square-ish rooms, a garden, and hopefully a roof, ask for something really wacky and you will pay for it.

Sure first impressions last, but some of the most interesting people I have ever met didn’t have a house to speak of. What makes your house a home is you and your furniture and the wonderful family you have inside the box. Secondly if you don’t have an address or no one knows where to find you, you are not going to have many visitors!

Custom built  web design is really cool when you can say; hey no one has my design, and is sold on the uniqueness of the site and comes with a heavy price, yet it will be as useless as a theme template if you are not prepared to put the time in and write the content and market it. I have built over 50 sites this year from templates and I would challenge you to find two sites exactly the same. Each template invites you to make it unique and put your stamp on it. Just like buying an old house, the first day you add a picture it becomes you!

Many themes now have colourization where you can choose an exact colour from a spectrum chart and also with fonts, you can move pages around, side bars can be removed or changed around, you can add your logo and favicon. All the images in a theme you add yourself to make it yours. The more unique content you have the more it reflects you personally.

In the debate regarding image I always show my clients Craigslist.com, the massively successful site that is as ugly as it is beautiful, it is to me a testament to the fact no one cares what you look like online, they care what you know and how what you know helps them.

There is an old saying that says: ‘You don’t look at the mantelpiece whilst poking the fire’

Imagine you were a painter and you opened a studio and had a launch event and your guests spent more time admiring the studio than your paintings! If you are image based then choose a very bland theme that brings out your images! Go minimal!

Many custom built web designers are not marketing people they are designers who want to create something beautiful, yet they lack the expertise to make the site readable to search engines where most people will find you if you sell anything online.

Whether you have a massive budget or not, you can lose a lot of money going for custom web design rather than a template. There are thousands of Word Press templates out there now that large business are using that most people would never know they were template designs. You can get templates for free and go up to a few hundred dollars with more features to make you stand out.

The main advantage between custom design and template based themes is usability; if you do not want to employ a designer full time, or be at the mercy of high costs everytime you want to add, alter or move anything around whenever you want, then themes will be your best bet. Themes also come with updates for free. If you live in Europe for example; you may be shocked to see what a quote will be for a cookie warning feature to add to your site, Word Press has many plug ins that do this perfectly for FREE!

You can design a Word Press blog to look and act exactly like a website without any blogs at all. However the reason most savvy business people with an eye for the marketing potential of a website use Word press as it has access to the open source community and you can more or less do anything you like with it to make it different, yours, dynamic, simple to use and still be search engine friendly enough for you to market your business effectively.

For a full course on everything you need to get your website looking great and for people to find you and engage with you; contact Netmedia Thailand