Let's look at some data from NAR, McKinsey, and the CFPB regarding consumer buying behaviors…
We get asked to clarify what a website template is all time. The quick answer: It is a pre-designed website that usually comes with some stock content. Very useful when trying to get a website built timely and without having to cough up a bunch of money. When you are looking around for a new website for your business you have a few options.
1. You can go fully custom.
This includes hiring a designer and a web developer, or a company that can do both. First you would work with the designer to layout each page of your site and discuss all the functionality you need. Once the design phase is complete then the website actually gets developed or built. For a truly custom website, this process is done from scratch. This is very expensive and may take months to complete. In my opinion this solution is just not necessary for most businesses. Websites have evolved a lot over the last 10 years making it easier to achieve what you want without spending tens of thousands to do it.
COST EXPECTATIONS: Yikes
2. You can purchase a theme or template and add all your own content and images.
This is a more hands on approach. When purchasing a theme or template that you will need to self-host and self-build one big misconception is the time it actually takes. The theme or template you purchase may look beautiful on the site you bought it from, but once you actually get it installed on your hosting you may realize there is actually a lot work to get it to look that way. If you have never worked on a website before, you may find yourself pulling out your hair just trying to get your logo on the top of the site. However, if you know what you are doing and you have some time to do this you can absolutely make yourself a pretty unique website for short money. This solution has no support person to email or call, you are on your own.
COST EXPECTATIONS: $50 for template, hosting costs, a lot of your time.
3. You can hire someone to build out a theme for you.
This is very similar to #2 except you pay someone to do the work. You can find a theme or template to purchase online and then pay a “web guy” to build out the site.
COST EXPECTATIONS: 4-5K for someone in the US to do the build out, then hourly for any changes, even small ones.
4. You can hire a service to provide a template, hosting and support. Not every industry has this full service approach, but if you can find the right one, it can be a real time saver. You can usually have a website up in under 1 week. These companies will handle all the setup, and you will be able to make your own edits as much as you feel comfortable. This is basically the same as option 2 above, but you also get help from a website expert or company throughout the entire process and as long as you have their service. A nice benefit is having a really nice website for a small investment and the access to a support person. This is usually a month-to-month service, you will not “own” the website. So you pay a monthly fee in order to have the site. Just like Shopify.
COST EXPECTATIONS: $199 setup and $89 or $99 /per month. View our pricing
Here are some questions we often get asked about templates.
Q: Are website templates bad for SEO ranking? Doesn’t everyone have the same content?
A: That depends, if you buy a template and keep all the generic content on the website, yes you will have the same content as many other people and will not rank for it. So if you get a template or any website, just be prepared to put the website content in your own words. If you went the custom route, you will be starting with no content and will have to provide ALL of it. With a template you at least get a great starting point. Re-writing something is much easier than starting from scratch. Trust me on that one. I have to write all my content from scratch for this site.
Q: Can the look of a template website be changed much?
A: That will vary from what company you use. Some companies say that their websites offer amazing customization but actually kind of lack. You should really ask them to explain this or demonstrate this in great detail. Some templates are very limited in what you can do and may get quickly frustrating. That is one bummer about buying a theme online. You often have to buy it in order to really test it, and if you do not like you do not get your 50 bucks back.
When this question gets asked directly about our websites the answer is this. “YES.” Vonk Digital website designs or templates are able to look just about however you want. We have used our websites not only for mortgage companies but also for hardware stores, marketing companies, farms, and construction companies just to name a few. With our drag and drop page builder the look and feel of the site can be completely changed very easily.
Before I go on writing for days about this, I will conclude with this. Just because you buy a website that is pre-designed and comes with stock content does not mean you cannot make it hit your SEO goals. Re-write the content on the site. It doesn’t take forever and will make you different from all the others that may share the same content. There is just no getting around that.