You have an e-commerce business (or are busy setting one up) and you need to decide on the best way to get your product to potential customers so that you can start making sales and building your brand.
Should you use a free website template? Or should you invest in the custom services of a professional?
As an entrepreneur or business owner – you have your eye on the bottom line. You need to find ways to reduce your costs and maximise on profits while still offering a quality service or product and maintaining your company mission statement.
If you are thinking that you are not ready to invest in a professionally designed website at the outset, you might be considering a website template that comes for free from any of the number of hosts and website providers. Now while this appears to be the most cost effective way of handling the website issue – there are certain pros and cons to free website templates.
Your businesses online presence has the same, if not more, importance to your business in the modern business model as your brick and mortar store. It is not only the home of your brand, it is also serving the function of a sales rep. Your online store needs to make the process of finding you, finding your products and purchasing them as easy and streamlined as possible for your potential customers.
The more professional your store is the more credible your business appears to be. Unfortunately many business owners are not fully aware of the differences between a custom website and a website template – and what the effect is on your turnover.
In this article, we are taking a look at what you are getting from both your professionally designed website and your free template – and the potential effects on your bottom line.
There are many small home businesses using free website templates who are quite happy with them. If you are setting out with a product that you are making yourself or are only trying to start a part time business on the side, then one of these website templates you can get for free might be for you.
The main advantages with free website templates are that they are Free – so you are not paying anything for them in a monetary sense. You should be prepared for what a free template will cost you in time, though. It takes a lot of time and effort to create a personalised website, even with a pretty template.
The other advantage is that they are usually quite simple to work with – even if your customization is very limited.
There are, unfortunately, disadvantages to using a free website template – and these are quite serious. Read on.
It’s not exclusive. There are going to be lots of other people using the exact same template as you are. In market where everyone is trying to be found and remembered, that makes your job even harder. Making an impression on your customer is important. It also tells them that you are using a template, because they will recognise it – and unfortunately that is going to make your business seem a little less like a “real” company.
Your Product line is limited.
Most free templates have fairly strict size allowances. You will only be able to add a limited number of products before you have to start paying.
Your Customisation is limited.
You will have to work within the confines of the template you’ve chosen. There is no wiggle room for add-ons or customisation.
You are taking a chance with your SEO.
Search Engine Optimisation is a skill – that is why people pay for it. When you choose a free template, you have no idea whether it’s been optimised, and you just have to hope that you know enough about it yourself to actually get your website found by search engines.
Custom Web Design Services
If you are operating a real business and you want to make money through your website, you must have a custom designed website. Here’s why.
Your Design is Unique to your company. It is the embodiment of your brand online and it speaks volumes to your customer base about whether they should trust you to deliver on your promises, or at all.
It also makes your website memorable so that customers will return to it.
Your website is custom built to accommodate your business needs. A professional web designer will look at everything that your website needs to achieve and ensure that you are receiving exactly that, in the most up to date and user friendly format. By prioritizing website features and functionalities that will make the user experience seamless and encourage sales.
Your website will be Search Engine Optimised. A good web designer knows SEO backwards and will be able to give you the best possible chance of being found online. With thousands of companies jostling for attention online you need to give your website the best possible chance.
Made for Later Scale.
If you know that your budget will have influxes of cash over time, a good web designer can stagger the development of features and functions so that your website can be up and running while being continuously updated and upgraded.
The disadvantages of a custom built website:
You are going to have to pay for it. BUT, bear in mind that thanks to the points listed above, you are also going to make substantially more money through it.
You will need to learn some basic maintenance, or request either a content management system. You would need to do this for your website template, too though.
Custom Web Design or Website Template?
The real question is “What do you want to achieve with your website”?
If you are running a small time business from home or part time, a free template is a perfectly viable option for you. If your business offers only limited services or products and you are not using your website to attract new business, then a website template is also a viable option.
If your website is your main means of generating income, or if your website is for a professional company with a brand and name to uphold, then your best option is going to be a custom website. You may feel that it’s costing you more, but in the long run it is a business investment, just like resources, stock, and your promotional material.