Off the shelf websites – Let's buy a theme!

Monday, 3 September 2018

Ok so they exist in a plenty and when you see them there are hundreds to choose from on the screen all geared up for each different business type and all manner of variants of that business sector. So, what am I talking about? Its website templates but not so much something basic but more so what we see when we browse “Premium Website Template Sites”.

These websites are always graphically striking and yes initially they grab your attention. The team here at Way Fresh are very well versed with these having played around with a few premium themes in the past for experimental reasons in the corner of the office.

So, What Do You Get?

What you get is a set of files that you then deploy onto a web server with a pre-set colouring and some options on back ground colours and a few other things. Essentially, it's a core website with what looks like flashing bells and whistles. You then go in and add your text and a few other pieces of content. However, you need to know your way around files, file structures, basic html mark-up and CSS. You can't really work with one of these if you have zero knowledge of anything web wise.

Why Is That A Problem?

Well it depends who you are, what you're making the site for and what your goal is. If you're a small business and your looking for a website then we would advise you stay clear, I will go into the reasons for this in a bit. If you're a medium to large business then there is no need to really be going down this route at all and the reasons for that will be similar to the small business. Sole users looking to put something up, possibly you could but let's look at the issues with template websites and why they don't always do what you may think.

Let's Break It Down

Template websites are made pretty much 99% of the time to look flash and sell as a premium theme or just sell in some capacity in volume. The websites are put together to look whizz bang, however that is usually about all your going to get and if you take a further look under the sheets of what your getting it all then gets a bit messier.

Most websites don't rely on huge amount of scripts and in particular JavaScript (a web language used to make various things happen on websites) they use as much CSS and SASS as possible and if something a little more involved is needed they will call in jQuery where required.

Template sites on the other hand rely heavily on JavaScript website code for their most basic of functions, and when I say basic functions I mean everything you see on the homepage. So, factor in website navigation, the hero area, the animation effects as you go down the page, various loading bars etc. It looks great but it's a massively flawed platform for your business website. The technology of JavaScript relies on it being turned on in your browser to make the website work, some people don't have it turned on and some devices just flat out don't play well with it. It doesn't mean it should never be used but if it is used you must have a degrade back option (a fallback so the website works without it). Most template sites we tried did no t have this.

It's also something here at Way Fresh we feel strongly about, people are parting with money for websites (albeit not vast amounts) but if you buy a premium theme with a few options on sometimes its not far off the price of a fully bespoke website created by a professional website company. In return they are getting a website package that when showcased is working at its full potential its not showing off the product in all situations.

It's a little bit like buying something in a store and going just off what the picture on the box looks like, until you get into it and explore the product you may find out its not exactly what you thought. However, with websites it's not as cut and dry because the average client isn't aware that website work in so many different ways across devices and browsers.

We aren't saying never use JavaScript as we have had clients in the past that have wanted specific working that require the use of it, but after fully explaining the pluses and minuses to that they can then decide their best way forward, as opposed to unwrapping a shiny all animated website and then realising 2 months down the line their site visitor conversions have dropped as 30% of them can't use the navigation as they can't see one!

Another huge issue with most template sites is that they are built to look a specific way and the code that makes them do that is hugely bloated, its not sleek and minimal as it really should be its chock full of every variation of the colours you can choose and various layouts as well. That doesn't mean there is no place for vast website code, of course there is but in a small to medium sized business there are so many other options to keep your website fast and optimised for Google there is no need for it, it will just hamper your Google rankings.

What will benefit you long term in the organic Google search results is fast minimal code. When you use a template with the things going on we have spoken about you could quite easily be using tens of thousands of lines of code to do something minor.

Small to Medium Sized Business Websites

Designed to load fast, work on all browsers, degrade back to always work and not cost a fortune then if your running your business and need a new site or haven't got one then you should always consider using a professional website company. Too many times you see people trying to do something in house or getting someone on the outside to knock something together to save money. A great example of a client we recently completed a website for that did do this in the past is RLM Windows, Doors & Conservatories.

Every other aspect of your business requires someone with a specialism, be that IT, Human Resources, Electrical etc. People should always class their company website with just as high an importance of doing right as in some circumstances its your only shop window. So talk to us about your next company site and see how the costs may surprise you and never have to worry about your website not working for you again.