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Custom built website vs cheap template

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Recently one of my clients asked me which route was the best for their new business ventures website. Select and buy a WordPress theme online or build a custom theme. I thought the analogy I used to explain the difference was spot on, so I figured I would share it.

“Think of your new business website like you think of your food. Do you want something out of the box that is mass prepared and marketed or something freshly prepared to your liking?”

Purchasing or finding a free WordPress template online is easier, faster and cheaper than forking out the money or spending the time for a full custom design; but it’s not always the best option. There are many factors you need to take into account to truly answer this question. Here are a few:

1. Does it bother you that an unknown amount of other websites could look, feel and act the exact same as your website? Imagine you’re looking for a new digital camera, so you go to old trustworthy Google and start price matching. You find the best price with CompanyXYZ, but when you go to their website, it has the same theme, colors and pictures as your next door neighbors blog about cats. Would you still go after that savings or use someone else?

2. Is SEO (search engine optimization) important for your new website?

3. Do you want your site to have the flexibility of adding future features/additions easily? It’s all too common to want to add something simple but the framework simply doesn’t support it. In the long term, it can end up costing much more time/money then expected, even for the simplest things.

Remember most of these templates you find online for WordPress, Drupal, etc. are very poorly coded. They create them in a few hours and mass market them and grab every penny available. Made in America still stands for something! If you go with a template, be sure to purchase from a respected and known designer or review the code (if you’re capable) before purchase.

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