Your website design says a lot about your company. But, like most of our customers, you are not really sure what you need. Your web guy never gets around to your updates. You don’t want to get stuck with a website that will never be updated, so maybe you’ll do it in-house using one of those online content management templates, right?
It's a dirty secret of the web business, but most people just don't need a full content management website. We’ve been developing websites for over twenty years and we’ve built our share of them. We enjoy it. It is sometimes what we do. But - it is the WRONG choice for many small businesses.
Before you choose a template-based website, consider these facts:
- Most small business owners don't have the time to devote to learning how to update their site, and don't have an employee available to spend time learning how to do it either. Templates that “do everything” are not always easy to use and are, in fact, hard to customize.
- Even the best programed content management system will be slower to load than a standard html site. The more YOU have access to control, the longer it will take your site to load for your visitors. More programing = More processing = Slower performance.
- Content Management Systems are an invitation to hackers. Anywhere that you have a login that can be accessed from the web, you have a potential vulnerability. The more complex or involved your system is, the greater the chance that your site is open to hacking. WordPress sites get hacked. Even if you conscientiously keep your WordPress and plugins updated (most people don't), even if you are good about password security (most people aren't) the fact remains that there are a lot of sites out there built on exactly the same platform with exactly the same flaws. That means it is definitely worth a hacker's time to learn how to exploit those flaws. And they do.
- A lot of time, effort, and expertise goes into making a website look right. The template examples have been created by designers with years of design experience. Choosing the right pictures, colors, fonts and details makes the difference between “Ehh” and “Wow”. And, of course, the template examples are shown with the best possible photos and content – NOT real world business content. You probably don't have the knowlege or skill to make major adjustments to the template to fit YOUR business. You CAN learn to do it. You can learn how to rebuild the engine of your car, too, but do you have that kind of time?
- Because of the vulnerability to hacking, template software requires the user to install updates - OFTEN. As with all software, a new update can often cause your carefully crafted template website to go haywire – and you to invest more time in reconfiguring and recreating what you had “just right”.
- Once you have a template website, it is hard to change over to something different. We've been in the web development business for over 20 years, and we have seen many people trapped in a template that they can't update. They can’t redesign or add new pages. So…they end up paying a premium to have someone else update for them.
But... What about the Good Stuff?
That is not to say that there isn't a place for very specific in-house content management options. Daily Specials, Sales Banners, Announcements and Alerts... these are all things that you may want to be able to control yourself and update at a moment’s notice. On the other hand, you probably don't want to change the design of your site often, so why use a full content management system that focuses on changing the design and layout as the priority, making it hard for you to change the things that you DO want to change? There is a simpler solution.
It doesn't cost as much as you think to get a custom website design with exactly the amount of control you need. Adding partial content management to a standard website is often less expensive in the long run than trying to force a template to fit your business model.
So what’s the alternative?
You don't HAVE to do it all yourself, and more importantly... you probably don't WANT to. Custom websites with partial content management systems are a very good alternative to template websites and a great solution for many small businesses today.