What’s It Gonna Take?
The realities of buying a template

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Nobody has unlimited resources. That’s why every penny you spend on your business needs to be properly invested. Undoubtedly, in our modern world one area of investment every business owner needs to consider is their website. When considering how to get started the biggest question in the mind of most business owners is, “Do I choose to go with a template or invest in a web designer?” I’d like to share a few technical details with you that should aid you in making your decision as I walk you through the realities of what it takes to put a template online, and what you’ll get if you buy a template. If, by the end, you feel that buying a template is your best option, by all means–do it, but you should be prepared for what you might face.

First, find a template that represents your company well. Generally, the best places to buy templates are from well-known companies like Theme Forest and Template Monster. Deciding which template you will use is the most important question you will be faced with in this entire process and you better not rush it for obvious reasons. You must take your time to research what you’re getting to make sure it will meet your needs, and do a good job visually representing your company.

After buying a template the next step is to put it online. Most people approach this with little to no knowledge about what they are doing. Buying a domain name is pretty simple, but setting things up with your host tends to be a little tricky. Then you have to create the database and link it to your website. Even in these initial steps there are best practices that every web designer adheres to because that’s his job. To learn how to do all this according to best practices can be time consuming.

Once your website is online you’ve only just begun. Now you need to get acquainted with the back end. If you’re using WordPress you’ll need to figure out where to change out images and text, how to create pages, posts, and users, and the list goes on. Don’t underestimate how challenging this can be. When I first started working with WordPress it was a challenge to learn. In fact, it can be such a challenge that we’ve had people hire us for a few hours just to teach them how to use WordPress. Troubles with learning WordPress are widespread. Just recently a guy told me, “WordPress was built by computer geeks for computer geeks.” Sadly, even though it’s used so much, I had to agree when he said, “It’s not intuitive.”

Now that you’ve become acquainted with the back end of your site, you’re going to need to make sure your new website is secure.

Protect your website from hackers

This is a major flaw I have found with templates. They tend to be vulnerable to hackers because they don’t come with any kind of protection. Of course, if you’re using WordPress you can search for plugins that will defend against hackers but this can, once again, become time consuming because you won’t know which plugins are good or bad until you test them out. Plus, setting up any plugin can be a hassle if you don’t know what you’re doing.

After you’ve secured your website, you’ll want to begin customizing it to fit the image you want to portray for your business. In some cases, you’ll be able to modify the color scheme and choose from a number of pre-packaged images and fonts that work well with the template. This is functionality you’ll find in a theme but you won’t be provided with if you have a web designer–which sounds great until you think it through.

Even though it sounds great to be able to manipulate elements like this, the ability to do so is only present because large blocks of code have been included making your website unavoidably clunky. Sometimes you will even find that these large code blocks interfere with plugins you install later, breaking your website altogether.

On the other hand, in order to provide you with the most slimmed down website that will perform well, web designers only include what is necessary and they do it at the beginning of the development process when they sit down with you to talk about what your needs are. In the end, you’ll still get what you want, but you won’t have a bulky website.

Setting up a web template is tiring

Now that you’ve got your website up and running, have made it secure, and you’ve customized it to meet your needs, the last step, and the most time consuming step, is to fill it in with content. This means thinking through what pages you need on your website, what the navigation hierarchy is going to look like, and inputting images and written content. If you’re not very good at writing you’ll probably want to find someone else to do it for you. If you decide to do it yourself, you should do your research to make it keyword rich to increase your search engine results. After this you’ll need to find images that not only represent the written content on each page but also seamlessly fit within with the design of your template. Oh, and don’t forget to optimize your images either. You don’t want your images to take forever to load. Speed is a big deal when it comes to the web.

Something else you should know is that gathering all the content is literally half of the work when creating a website. This means that when you buy a template you’ve only paid for half of a website. If you don’t take the time or spend the money to obtain quality images, your website will look unappealing, and if you don’t put the time into writing valuable content, people won’t stick around–making your efforts worthless.

So, after covering all of this, you might be asking yourself a question.

“If I have to expend all of this energy, time and resource, why not just hire a professional?” And you are exactly right. A professional web design company that knows what they are doing, can do the job right the first time and can get the entire job done in a timely fashion at an affordable cost is what I recommend over the process of finding the right template, putting it online, becoming familiar with the back end, making it secure, customizing content and design, and filling in the content. You’ll likely spend so much time (and headache) that you’ll wish you had invested in a professional web designer.

When you take everything into account “throwing up a template,” so to speak, often becomes so time consuming and technical that business owners often get only halfway through before they give up. I’m sure you’ve seen a few half done websites for with your own eyes. These are most often people who have given up (aka “the project has been put on the back burner” never to be touched again). When this happens it reflects poorly on your company as if to say–you don’t follow through.

Like I said at the beginning, if you still feel that buying a template is best for you, great. Do it. I hope it works well for you, but at least now you know the realities of what you might face. You’ll never hear all of this from the template companies. More often than not, it’s going to take more than you can give–which means a web designer is a pretty worthy investment.


Because I think it’s important that people make their own decisions I’ll provide you with the best post I’ve found for the other side of this debate so you can properly weigh the pros and cons for yourself. However, I’d like you to take note that there is no honest mention of all you’ll need to do if you buy a template. That’s because what I shared here is hush hush in the world of selling templates. Happy reading!

10 Reasons Custom Web Design is DYING
by Marvin Russell