the graphic design blog that speaks the truth

There has recently been a huge influx of companies offering ‘personalized’ website templates, and surprisingly (to me at least) , they seem to be very popular. Here I will outline five very important reasons why you should avoid using such templates on your new website.

1) They are popular

Surely this is a sign of a concept that works? Ordinarily, this would be true, but in this case the more popular a design, the less unique your website becomes. One website is already boasting at having over 200,000 of it’s templates downloaded and installed across the web. It is therefore obvious that there are going to be tens if not hundreds of websites out there that look remarkably similar to your own. Standing out from the crowd has long been a fundamental target for companies, and these templates only make this target harder to achieve.

2) They are rigid

The creative options you have available to you whilst using these templates are extremely limited. Common ‘features’ offered by such templates include the ability to add your own text and images. This can hardly be called a feature. Have you ever seen two websites that contain the exact same images and text? (except for those infringing copyright) A unique website does not just refer to the colors, images, and text used. In fact, more so, uniqueness is generally measured by layout. Take a look at one of the companies in question (I’m sure you know of a few) and each and every template they offer shows almost identical structures. ‘Customizing ‘ such templates can only go so far, your template based website is never going to be unique.

Imagine you wanted to update your design somewhere down the line, or wanted to add a feature such as an image slideshow or a blog. These templates offer no way of doing so unless your original template includes it. The solution if it doesn’t? ‘Upgrade to our better template!’.

3) They are easily recognizable

The increasing levels of advertisement that website template companies are throwing at us are only helping to familiarize us with the sort of designs that these companies offer. This usually includes a generic title, header image and some ugly styled navigation. As such, potential clients are becoming more and more aware of when a website has used such templates, and this is only likely to defer them from doing business with you. Websites templates suggest laziness and a lack of creativity or ambition.

4) One size doesn’t fit all

The companies offering these templates (I’m trying hard not to name them!) allow you to pick your industry, and pick from one of their industry specific templates. Great, right? Wrong. Typically, the industries offered are so generalized they offer no real benefit. One example I came across was an industry entitled ‘Restaurants’. Off the top of my head I can think of at least 20 different cuisines, and at least 5 well known food chains within each who offer differing culinary experiences. That’s 100 different restaurant chains in one single industry, and that’s only the well known ones. Is one template going to be applicable to each one of these businesses? I think not.

5) They are cheap

The main selling point for these templates is the comparatively low costs they offer. However, as is often the case, you get what you pay for. The templates are cheap, because they look cheap. When you invest in a new website, you are paying for a first impression. Using a website template is a lazy move and is unlikely to trigger a positive response from first time viewers.



  1. 23/07/12
    5:42 pm
    Copied templates will obviously low cost templates. If you need good and creative one then you have to go through the process to design a website template that needs a lot research regarding your business nature and consumer interest. Consumer interest is always important while designing the template of any website.
  2. 17/06/17
    5:54 am
    Exactly right. Nothing worse than cheesy stock images, content that just doesn't sit right with the business. It might look flashy in some cases but it just comes across as false and plastic and vague. It sometimes does more damage than good. I have seen sites that are not as flashy - almost ugly infact - but really reflect the brand exceptionally well using a mixture of actual photographs and well structured content tuned for SEO. Sometimes you can mix in a stock photo - but not as a feature - unless its severely modified to suit. Often I use a developers themes - strip the content and layout completely and build the patterns from scratch. The reason is the feature set i can build from is available and supported. Or i might do the full custom and use ACF which goes back to either a clean wordpress install and build my theme over the top add in my selection of javascript etc. It really depends on the customer - what they want. Money is determined purely by their requirement. But in all honesty when building custom site and content it is NEVER easy - its hard work from all sides - the aesthetics, the UX the SEO and the responsive look and feel and the coding. Nothing is more despondent than when i see commercials from WIX and WEEBLY build a professional website in minutes! Everyone should take them up to the task and ask them for an hourly rate to build their website in minutes if it so easy. See what they come up with. One thing you can be sure of it wont be of commercial quality. If your not spending hours on your opening paragraph alone - you are not doing it right. Sometimes boilerplate is appropriate where customers want a flashy site that loads blindingly fast on cheap hosting - something that they dont have to update or want to update by themselves. I admire fullstack website developers - its an incredibly tough and widely misunderstood job.
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