94% of your visitors don’t turn into customers due to poor design and a complicated user-interface.
Does it ring a bell?
If you are new to the web design industry, you will hardly know the importance of custom designed websites. It is natural for you to get easily carried away by website templates for a few bucks. For instance, you are a doctor with a significant number of patients turning in at your clinic every day. A friend who is into the web design industry recommends you to put up a virtual outlet for your business so that you can attract more customers and boost your income. You go ahead and search for what should it cost you to get a website developed. The search results leave you hanging in the middle of two extremes:
Since you are a doctor, you certainly have no clue how a custom designed website beats existing templates for all reasons. As a business owner, you will think of the cost you have to incur and try you best to get a solution that is cost-effective and quick. If your techie friend hasn’t told you about the high loading time and clutter in a website template, you should be starting right away with getting an existing template and filling in your content to it.
It should all be fine for the first few months unless you start generating real traffic. Since it is your business, your ideas, and your content, you wouldn’t notice if the site is difficult to navigate or takes a longer time to figure out the actual brand message. However, ask a patient who tried to book you using the website and you will know the hurdles faced due to a ready-made template. The user might complain:
These are just a few reasons why you should not be using a website template for your online venture. High chances are that the website will never appear in organic search because templates are not optimized for SEO. If you are low on budget and just want to put up a website for the sake of fashion, get a template and fill it up. However, if you really wish for your website to act as a sales rep for your business and bring more targeted traffic to you then you must get a custom designed website by a professional web design agency. Even though templates look cheap initially but they have a high maintenance cost and will cost you high in terms of business performance.
The above is a situation most of you can relate to as business owners, now we will get to the details of why a custom designed website is better than website templates.
We started off the post with a stat that said only 6% of your visitors will buy from you even if you have a poor design. The other 94% would want to know you, get a sense of who you are and have some trust in you before they actually buy from you. Remember customers don’t buy from people they don’t trust. Why is that there are a hundred brands of cola but Coke is still the number one choice for buyers? Even though there have been controversies but the trust that Coke has gained over years cannot be replaced in the eyes of the users.
Even though as a business owner, you wish to save some money and cut your costs, the decision will not be to the best of your interest. A template never develops a unique identity for your brand because the same templates are sold over and over to business owners in different industries. Chances are a doctor web template available on the theme marketplace would be used by you and your competitor both. How are your users going to distinguish between the two based on brand identity?
Remember that your brand is everything for your business. The impression you create in your customer’s mind is going to last forever and impact his purchasing decisions, perceptions, and expectations from your services or products. Get a custom designed website that translates your brand image and conveys your message to the potential audience.
Website templates are based on a one-size-fits-all approach. They do not have the custom functionality or features that you want on your website. They are not flexible for expansion in the future. You may want to sell products on your website later but the template would not support e-commerce functionality. This will cause you a higher maintenance cost and you may even have to go for a complete redesign in the future. This is just one example of the limitation caused by using a readymade website but there are many. They may not have areas for your case studies, or user reviews, appointment scheduling so on and so forth.
One other problem while using web templates is content placement. These templates already have a certain space for text and imagery and you cannot change that. If the welcome text has a space for a hundred words, you cannot include the long content that you crafted to greet your visitors or guide your patients about the process. Web templates have stuffed content which gives a pathetic user experience.
Alternatively, you won’t be facing any of these issues if you are getting a custom designed website for your business. You can tell the designer about your preferences, desired features, and future plans. The designer will then create a design that incorporates all of this. Also, the content can be visually arranged as per your priorities. You can specify which areas do you want to focus more and what content has lower priority.
You may not understand the term very well if you are a layman to the web design industry. Cross browser compatibility means that your website should be able to open up and display correctly across different browsers and different versions of the same browser. Not all the users have the latest version of IE or use Google Chrome. Mac users have Safari as their default browser so you don’t want to miss that while putting up your website. Templates are not compatible with various browsers, which leads to higher chances of the user bouncing off from your website. Not only you lose the visitors but in the future, the search engine does not direct potential users to your website due to a high bounce rate of the existing traffic.
Templates may be fast to put up but they have huge problems when it comes to search engine optimization. The major issue is that they have high loading time. Users typically navigate away from your website if it doesn’t load under 5 seconds. Google webmaster recommends having a loading time under 2 seconds.
Amazon has discovered that their conversions drop by 7% on a 1 second delay, which makes an annual loss of $2.5 million (given that they sell $100k/day)
Website templates have a higher loading time because they contain unnecessary lines of codes and sections that you do not even need in your website. You may remove the sections on the front end but the code just stays there, increasing the load on your server. Moreover, they are not optimized for better performance on search engines in the HTML and CSS code. You don’t want to lose your potential clients only because your template dint open up in time and they navigated to a competitor.
In business, your audience is everything. And the audience doesn’t mean just anyone but it means targeted users who are actually interested in your product or services and will buy them. You cannot expect a template to cater to an audience of teenagers, engineers looking for a job, Denver-based makeup artists and UK based photographers. Of course, that’s not possible you would think. Because all of these audiences are diverse and one website cannot cater to all. However, that’s how templates work. One template has hundreds and thousands of sales and is used for different audiences. You are the best judge of your audience and only you can communicate that to your designer.
The core to stand out from your competitors is to research into and identify customer needs, then create solutions that meet or solve those needs. However, you cannot cater to the specific needs of your audience if your solution is ready-made without incorporating their preferences to it.
These are the top reasons why a custom designed website should be your only choice while putting up the virtual face of your business. However, if you are in a rush, or don’t have enough budget, you might opt for a template. (Not recommended at all)
Now that you know enough, you are all set to start your hunt for a professional design agency.
P.s. Before you go ahead and hire a digital agency for building your website, consider reading this on factors to consider while hiring a web design agency.
What is your biggest challenge for getting your website designed?
P.P.S If you feel I missed something important, please give me a heads-up in the comment section.