I’ve been seeing this quite a lot recently, an increase in clients that don’t have very large budgets asking if we can just use a premium template and tweak it for their new website… the answer is no.
Now aside from personal reasons why I don’t get involved with theme editing, there are also a number of reasons why using a premium template can actually hurt your business in the long run.
1) The template won’t be unique in any sense of the word
I often compare client requests to modify premium templates to buying a table from IKEA, sure it might be cheap to buy and quick to assemble but what you end up with is furniture that is in no way unique to you, nor does it match your personality or any of your other furniture. Using a premium template is the same, it will water down your brand and you’ll end up with a website that looks identical to 1000’s of others out there.
2) Like an IKEA table, premium templates are built to please the masses
How do template developers make money? By selling as many of their templates as possible, and how do they ensure that happens? By building them to please as many people as possible. This usually means that the templates you are installing are filled with code that you will probably never use, and this inevitable bloat can cause your site to slow down. “So my site is a little slow, how does that hurt my business?” Google is always changing how it ranks your website and overall page speed now has a direct effect on your page rankings.
A bespoke website that’s been carefully crafted to suit your needs will be as lean and bloat free as possible. This means that your website will have a huge advantage over any premium template that you might consider using. A quick test on a top 10 selling premium template reveals a page size of a whopping 7mb and over 180 HTTP requests, this is pretty bad and will no doubt slow your site down, which I’m sure Google won’t appreciate much. In comparison, my home page is filled with images but still only comes in at just over 1mb, see! Nice and lean! (although ironically the GIF at the top of this post is 6MB).
3) A template can never understand the needs of your business
This one is probably the most important reason that using a premium template won’t do you any favours. Why do you need a new website? I’m hoping you would answer with something along the lines of “Our current website isn’t drawing in enough interest in our products and we aren’t seeing many leads being generated because of it”. That’s a perfect response, as I can immediately start to analyse the performance of the current site, check which pages are performing and which aren’t pulling their weight. From there we can devise a plan and start to think about how we can address these issues, so that your website works harder for you and also starts generating you more leads, and as a result more business.
A premium template can’t know you want to increase product awareness or take into account your users age, sex and preferences. All it can do is give you a cookie-cutter website that is in no way related to your services or brand, and when it all comes down to it, is that really the impression you want to leave with your potential customers?
Going down the bespoke route may end up costing you more money and it will certainly take longer, but a bespoke website is a solid investment that should, in the long run, pay for itself.