29 / February 2016, Matt
Many websites out there today offer free or cheap website templates for website design. Some promise to be SEO-optimized out of the box, and most promise a simple design that will get you up and running quickly. You might even be able to pick from dozens of pre-packaged options for your website. And you can be up and running in as little as an hour.
All of this sounds almost too good to be true. While those providing these sites are probably not lying to you, they are offering a mediocre product that will not represent your business in the ways a custom site can do. They attempt to create one-size-fits-all solutions, and in doing so fail to provide the kind of individualized product that can make a site stand out from the crowd. Worse, these cookie-cutter sites can actually hinder your SEO efforts, preventing you from reaching the audience your business deserves.
When you are creating a web presence for your business, your content should provide your primary focus. But without the right website, the platform for your content will never serve your needs as effectively as it should. The best content only gets you so far if you limit your own reach out of the gate. For several reasons, a website template just will not deliver the performance you need.
Website providers who provide templates as a substitute for web design operate on volume. In other words, their business model depends on hundreds or thousands of people using each template for their websites. They sell simplicity and the ability to do it yourself with a design that many others have used before you, and many others have used since. You take the framework, add your own words, and viola! Your site is born, and you can go live with a click.
This formula works very well for cookies and hamburgers. But when you buy a cookie or a hamburger, you aren’t doing so with an expectation that your culinary choices will stand out in the marketplace. Rather, you want an experience consistent with what you expect. Designing a website is an entirely different creature. You don’t want those visiting your website to feel like they have been there before. You want to stand out from your competitors from the first time someone visits your site. When an online user stumbles upon your website, you have a limited amount of time to grab that user’s attention, and a one-size-fits-all experience does not deliver.
Ease of use can be an attractive thing for those without experience in this area, but you miss out on the tremendous benefit that comes from working with an experienced web designer. Web design requires more than just a basic framework that looks fine. To maximize the potential of your site, you want a design that stands out from the rest of the online world in a way that will represent you and your business well. No pre-established template can ever do this as well as a unique, tailored design will do.
Second, when you use a template, the coding and metadata associated with the graphics in place will not be optimized for your purposes. When hundreds of diverse companies and personal users are employing the same template, it is impossible to direct stock graphics toward optimization around the myriad terms that each one would use. Any text that the search engines will crawl will not have unique or specific associations with your business or your other content. You lose opportunities to gain viewers and site rankings as a result.
Fans of college and professional sports teams often judge a coach based on how well he or she takes advantage of the team’s personnel. Coaches have styles or philosophies, but the best coaches fit their systems around the players with whom they are working. After all, the players define how well your team will play, so it makes sense to put them in a position where they can succeed by getting the most out of their abilities. Forcing someone to try performing functions outside his or her skill set is a recipe for disaster.
Web design works in much the same way. If you start with a design and then try to fit your business’ visual and textual content within that, you constrain yourself unnecessarily. If your website is to serve as an online reflection of you and your business, the idea that you should try to shape that to a pre-formed template that has nothing to do with you just does not make sense. You have a story to tell, and some stories flow in different ways than others. You should be free to create content, and develop a plan for doing so, without trying to fit it into a pre-existing form.
The best web designers start with your needs, and build a site that meets those needs. If you have a great amount of visual content, or need a site that accommodates certain space requirements, your designer will build to suit. This allows your creativity the opportunity to blossom, and gives you the opportunity to create a unique online presence that maximizes the marketing and SEO impact of what you have to offer.
When you are marketing your business, you need to use every advantage available to you. A great web design can do two things for you: help potential customers find you, and give those potential customers a reason to become actual customers. If you design your website from the ground up with SEO and consistency in mind, you can do more to bring people to you. And if your web design reflects your brand in a powerful, compelling way, it can make all the difference between being another face in the crowd and standing apart from your competitors.
At 1st in SEO, we never try to push a framework on you. We take the time to understand your business and your purpose, to focus in on who you are. At that point, we can start planning out the web design that will show your brand to the world in the most effective fashion. Every client is different, and has a unique story to tell. Your online presence should reflect that story and show your site visitors why your story matters.
We put this concept into everything we do for you, from the first line of code to the last word we write for you. Where a mass-produced template can get you to mediocrity faster, we will lift you to better results that endure over time. If you want your business to grow and excel over the long haul, contact us today. We will design your site and set you on the path to greater success.