Today, we’re talking about templates, and why they’re not the best option for building your business’ website. The Miriam Webster Dictionary defines templates as:
Template (noun) tem·plate \ ˈtem-plət \
(1) a gauge, pattern, or mold (such as a thin plate or board) used as a guide to the form of a piece being made.”
Using templates are fine for navigating a handful of life’s challenges; tracing shapes, cutting fabrics, or stenciling perfectly pointed flowers onto your daughter’s bedroom wall… I mean, a lot of print publications use templates when arranging their layouts. And hey, we’re cool with that. When it comes to building a website for your business, be cautious about overdoing it. There’s a time and a place for templates, and they should generally be used as more of a jumping off point than a final product.
Microsoft Word makes templates for a whole bunch of stuff. When you’re making a resume, for example, everyone knows that you should never actually use Microsoft’s resume template. Not because it’s in Latin, even though that can of course be a problem. And it’s not because the margins, fonts, italics, and general formatting stuff is fragile. With all this considered though, you’re going to be pigeonholed into forcing interesting and unique content into the prefigured format, which literally has zero consideration for making you look like a Rockstar and therefore will almost certainly dull down your experience. The biggest reason why (or why not) to use a resume template is because they can be spotted a mile away. Or worse, get lost in a sea of sameness. Sameness makes a candidate seem dull and unoriginal, lacking creativity and care for their image.
This is how you should think of your website in many respects. After all, your site is one of, if not the most important way customers interact with your products or services. We know your business is unique—most of them are. We know you are unique. We believe that you DO care about your image, and if you don’t, you should! Conveying how awesome you and your business are is going to be really difficult by using a generic, one-size-fits-all template when it comes to your website. This is where designers, developers, and branding experts come it — it’s why we still exist. (Thankfully!)
Here at Sleepless, the majority of our clients come to us for custom designs versus templates. Some of them come to us looking to use a template, and in those cases, part of our job is to ask questions about why they have that direction in mind and educate them as to why it might not be the best path. While we might consider the use of templates in some cases, we assume that you are building your brand to break the mold, not fit into someone else’s! We have no doubt that your business is unique and has the substance that other’s in your space don’t. The amount of time, energy, and hard work you put into starting your business was most certainly not carved from a template. So why should your website be? (Well, unless you’re a franchise of course, but you aren’t, right?)
When you work with a professional digital design firm, you’re getting a whole lot more than a website. If you pick the right team, you’re getting a strategy-based website that is on-brand and explicitly tailored to your business, its goals, and its target audience. You’re also getting someone’s creative labor and expert advice on aesthetic, functionality, and dos and don’ts. When you work with people who listen, ask questions, look you in the eyes, get to know you, show you pictures of their cat (not like we’d ever do that here, never even knew cat pictures were a thing until Nick showed up to work one day with a cat coaster for his desk— weird, but you get the point) you’re getting something that a template can never offer: a tailored, personalized, need-based approach to your online presence and brand image. Why bend your brand into a template when you can design a site around your brand? To us, templates are a backasswards approach.
A designer is going to bring your vision to life. It was Steve Jobs who said, “No vision has ever come to life through a template.”
… Okay, fine. For all you fact checkers out there: You win. Steve Jobs totally never said that. We’d be willing to be that he probably would though if we asked him to weigh in on the matter.
In any case, it doesn’t matter how simple or how local your business is. Social life, business development, and customer relations happen online. The one-size fits all thing is great for something like a scarf, or a hat. Except in Jon’s case, because one size fits all usually doesn’t account for the size of that huge noggin! But seriously, when it comes to showcasing your products, services, and brand as a whole, your business deserves better. Trust us, it does.