For some businesses, the temptation to save time and effort by purchasing a website template can be hard to resist. An employee’s sister’s roommate says she can give you a brand new website for $50 and a 2 liter of Caffeine Free Diet Cherry Shasta. Sounds like a steal but what is the real cost? What you receive may, and I mean MAY, look acceptable but they’ve stolen the entire creative process away from you leaving you with a dry, empty husk of a website that is virtually identical to hundreds of other websites out there that is likely doing you more harm than good. Not enough to dissuade you from mailing it in? Here are a few more things to consider.

You can’t judge a book by its cover… Oh wait, we already do!

Whether you’d like to admit it or not, we all make snap judgments when we see things for the first time and a website is no different. If it looks sloppy, you’ll think the company doesn’t take themselves seriously. If it feels clunky the user will bounce right out of the site and onto a competitor’s page. If it sends the wrong message you can do irreversible damage to the brand. Every visit is an opportunity to make a good impression so what are you doing with a one-size-fits-none template?

The Emperor’s New Goals

The functionality has already been pre-determined in a template so it’s likely it won’t align perfectly with what goals you had set for the website and if you don’t know what your goals are for your new site then that should be your wake-up call that it may be worthwhile to do it the right way; hire an agency.

Oh ya… we have a brand!

Since the design has already been chosen for you, you are at the mercy of the template to deliver the look and feel of your brand to your visitors. Establishing a brand for your business and continuing to reinforce that brand is paramount and should not be an afterthought.

Holy missing content Batman!

Imagine this, you’re staring at your new website template with placeholder images and lorem ipsum text… so now what? You’ll probably just go image-by-image, sentence-by-sentence and add in content haphazardly just to plug up holes in an otherwise empty shell for a site. You may decide to play “Art Director” and have that employee’s sister’s roommate tweak this over here, change this style over there and MAKE MY LOGO BIGGER! This would be counter-intuitive since the entire point was to save time and money and now you’re spending both polishing a turd.

But does it scale?

But does it scale indeed!? Your precious template may do everything you need it to do, functionality-wise, for the immediate but what about what’s around the corner? You’ve missed all that planning that comes with building your own solution and without a sturdy foundation and a game plan; you might find yourself back at square one sooner than you anticipated.

So what have we learned here? It should be that templates are the seductive sirens of the web world. They lure you in with the promise of great things with little asked in return and end up leaving you shipwrecked on the rocky coast wishing you had the strength to resist their call.