If you have been looking to invest in a website for your business, you may have come across the term templated website themes. These themes are often free or very cheap in comparison to the quotes you have received from professional agencies and this often raises a valid question – Is a templated website theme the right choice for me?
To help you make this decision, we have accessed the pros and cons of choosing a templated website theme over a custom design, but first of all let’s understand what a templated website theme is exactly.
A templated website theme is an ‘out of the box’ solution for your new website. It will contain a theme, or number of themes, made up of templated pages, pre-designed and pre-built. Website themes generally cost in the region of £40 – £100, but some can be found free of charge (with very limited customisation options). All website themes must be installed on a website platform with the most popular choice being WordPress.
Once your theme has been installed into your website platform, you will have a limited number of customisation options and page templates to choose from.
You may have heard a lot of negative press surrounding templated website themes and a lot of this is unjustified. As a website design agency, Verve do not use templated website themes because we believe a website should be designed to fit your business needs, messaging, branding, functionality requirements and also consider scalability for future developments. That is not to say they don’t serve a purpose, but you must think very carefully about how you want your business to be represented in the digital world since your website will carry your brand and it says a lot about you as a business.
It may seem as though more focus has been given to the cons (over the pros), but that is because the cons are often not considered and yet can be more damaging.
Ranging in price generally from £0 to £100, templated website themes are a very cheap alternative to a custom website design. Installation, configuration and support costs are often additional fees to consider, but with these included, the costs still tend to fall below £250.
If you are reasonably au fait with your website theme, website platform and have all of your website content and images prepared, you can be online within a matter of days.
There are a number of pre-designed website themes on the market to choose from which give you choice over different layouts and styles.
You will be sharing your website styling, layout and functionality with other businesses who have chosen the same theme. From time to time you will come across a website that looks very familiar and this is often because it is a website theme. Your company branding, logo, messaging and ethos is unique so you need to ask yourself whether your online presence should be also?
A website theme is not quite an ‘out of the box’ solution. You will still need to download, install and configure your chosen website platform before you can install your theme.
The design phase of bespoke website design considers the functionality requirements of the website from the outset. You may find that with a templated website theme you are not able to change some of the functionality; this then compromises a visitor’s user experience. With a website theme you are working backwards, removing unneeded items, changing styling and layouts and sometimes attempting to force elements of the site to work in a way that is not intended to.
A website theme will often contain a large number of page templates (sometimes multiple themes containing multiple templated pages) along with extensions/ plugins/ modules that are not required for your website. Website theme creators do this as they are trying to cater for as many requirements as possible within one solution. These additional pages and extra functionality extensions take up extra unnecessary space and will cause your website to load and react slower than one that has been designed to contain only what you require.
It is very important that the images used for your website design are ‘optimised for the web’. A good web design agency will reduce the file size of the images used to the maximum point without affecting their quality and resolution. Large image file sizes are the main cause for slow loading websites.
A website theme may or may not be packaged with images. Those that do will only contain a limited number and they will be the same images as received by all other owners of this theme.
When it comes to choosing images for your website, where do you go? You can’t choose any image you find on the web due to copyright issues and even if you did, you would need the right size and quality of the image. You also need the right resizing and cropping skills to change the image to fit into the space you want it to. So where can you purchase images safe in the knowledge that you have the ‘legal’ rights to use the image? There are stock imagery websites, such as shutterstock or istock, but these images are not cheap and chances are you will spend more on images than you have on your website theme. Most agencies, like Verve, will invest in an agency account with stock imagery websites since this allows us to use a variety of quality imagery for all our web design projects.
How search engine friendly a website is built is very important if you expect your website to perform well within the search results pages of major search engines such as Google. Custom web design often considers SEO factors and signals within its build phase. Professional Agencies, like ours, will build websites with search engines in mind to ensure that our sites are built to best-practice in order to fit in with the prescribed guidelines. This often takes time and in some areas, needs to be unique for each business.
How your website is displayed is determined by the website browser that it is being viewed within. Although the majority of website browsers will render websites in the same manner, there are a number of cases where they will not and differences in styling and functionality can be noticed from one browser to the next. It is important that your website has been cross-browser tested to avoid potential disappointment. Not all website themes are cross browser tested and you will need to rely on the word of those that state they have as you will often not know for sure until your website theme is live.
This topic may seem a little one sided as we have highlighted more cons against a website theme and reasons to use a custom web design service, but for the majority of businesses, we firmly believe this is true. We believe businesses deserve to be represented in a unique manner in the online world. Do you share the same logo as one of your competitors? Share the same name as another business? Use another company’s strapline?
You have invested heavily, both in time and money, in ensuring your business is structured right, branded correctly and puts across a certain message about you. So when it comes to an online presence why compromise and settle for less?
If you are about to embark on a new website project give Verve a call on 01743 360000 or contact us by email and we can ensure your website project is given the attention it deserves.