Website templates make it easier than ever to build new sites, but creators are often unsure whether to use templates for their websites. While templates are usually affordable and relatively easy to use, they can also be overly rigid when it comes to customization.
In this article, we’ll explain the pros and cons of website templates and help you determine whether they’re the best option for your small business. After reading, you’ll understand:
- The difference between website templates and other design tools
- What to expect if you use a website template
- How to decide whether to use a website template or hire a web designer
What Are Website Builder Templates?
Website templates are preset designs that can easily be applied to a creator’s site. Instead of spending time coding or optimizing every single aspect of the design, creators can start with a basic template and make further changes as needed.
Developing a website from scratch is much more complex and resource-intensive, but it also comes with more control over the result.
The best website builders typically come with high-quality templates plus integrated features like SEO and e-commerce support. The template below comes from Squarespace, one of the most popular e-commerce website builders in 2023.
How Templates Affect Your Small Business Website
- They come with a predetermined visual design
- They’re good for your budget
- They make it easier to update your website
Whether to use a template is an important decision in the process of designing your small business website. The template you select has an impact on nearly every aspect of the site.
Website Builder Templates Have a Predetermined Visual Design
The visual design is the first thing you’ll notice when looking at a new template. While themes often allow for some customization, you may only be able to make a limited range of changes. Unlike custom web development, templates restrict the possibilities for a site’s visual design.
Working with a predetermined visual design can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the context. This approach makes it easy to align your site with best practices. For example, templates intended for e-commerce come with product categories, account pages, and other elements involved in a digital storefront.
Meanwhile, you may find that your website template prevents you from creating a truly unique design. Templates cover a wide range of websites, but their preset nature makes it impossible for them to offer the deep flexibility that comes with building your own site from scratch.
While visual design is inherently subjective, we’ve found that Squarespace offers the best template selection of any major website builder in 2023. Furthermore, those templates are thoroughly customizable, enabling users to do everything from changing the color scheme and adding custom pages to turning a portfolio template into a fully featured e-commerce store.
Website Templates Are Good for Your Budget
Website templates are an incredibly popular option due to their low prices.
Most themes are relatively affordable, and there are even some free website builders that enable creators to set up new websites at no charge.
While many free website builders come with watermarks and other key limitations, Joomla has a decent free plan that’s surprisingly practical for different kinds of websites. There’s no Joomla branding, no limitation on storage space, and users can even access an impressive selection of free extensions to add to their websites.
If you’re looking for a budget e-commerce solution, we would recommend starting with Duda. Duda starts at just $19 per month and covers almost anything you could need for e-commerce sales with features like product listings, real-time shipping quotes, support for more than 40 payment methods, and sales through social media platforms like Google, Facebook, and Instagram.
With such a wide selection of templates available, there’s a low-cost option out there for virtually any use case. Even though you may have to pay extra for updates or ongoing support, the overall price tag should still be significantly lower than what you would spend on custom web development.
Website Builder Templates Make Updates Easier
Along with the budget and visual design, your workflow is another key consideration when deciding whether to use a website template
Websites created without templates are often significantly less approachable. If something goes wrong or you need to update the site, you’ll likely need help from a developer who understands how the different elements of your site connect to each other.
However, with a more streamlined template, anyone from your team can make changes without causing any other problems. Many templates are also supported by an e-commerce platform like BigCommerce or a third-party provider, ensuring that any compatibility issues or technical problems are resolved quickly.