Template Based Web Design - Good or Bad?

28 Feb 2012
Written by MJ Meyer

Many web designers use templates for their clients instead of designing the website from scratch. Others strongly advise business owners to stay away from templates and belittle any web designer that does. But is template design good or bad? When and for whom is it acceptable? Why does it have this stigma?

The Stigma of Template Websites

Whenever the word "template" gets mentioned to any professional web designer, the most common thought is of some sleazy guy selling websites for under R1000.00 a piece. To be honest, this sends shivers down my spine.

These guys usually use free or low quality templates and take a few hours to implement it. It may sound like a viable option but often ends in disaster. Mostly due to the fact that websites really are more than just pretty pictures (something we preach often).

They barely change anything on the template, maybe a few colours here and there, but that's where it ends. So you end up with a website that looks pretty much the same as a few thousand others.

These "designers" also usually know very little about coding best practices (which is why they're using a template in the first place).

Why You Should Choose a Template Website

Okay, so templates can be bad. But they can also be the best option for a business on a tight budget. The key is to find the right template, with quality code, and actually do some good customization on it (something a good web designer will know how to do). Customization to fit the image of your business and to differentiate your design from the base design.

It's a lot easier, cheaper and faster to do lots of customization on a template, than to design something from scratch.

Obviously, if you have a decent budget, I would suggest you get a custom design done to keep branding 100% consistent and unique. But it makes much more sense to invest in a customized template and rather use the extra money you have on search engine optimization or some other form of marketing like pay per click advertising.

The Verdict on Template Web Design

For a small business with a limited budget, this would be the best option. Just make sure you get it done by professionals.

I can guarantee you, that a "customized" template based website design done by professionals, will outclass any custom design done by amateurs! And the pricing of each option will be in the same region.

Which option would you choose? Or have you had a website designed? Is it a custom design or template design? Tell us about your experience in the comments below...

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