In the right situation, purchasing a pre-made website template might be a good way to get a website up and running quickly. Templates can possibly save you time and money, and templates that are well made can give you a professional-looking website without requiring that you have a design degree or coding experience. However, there are also some drawbacks to using a premade template.
This post is not talking about using services like Wix, Weebly, Godaddy Website builder, or Squarespace, even though many of the comments below apply to those DIY website builder platforms.
Let’s discuss the pros and cons.
There are some good things about using a website template. First, they don’t cost very much. You can find free website templates online, and even the paid templates are usually $50 or $100. Second, they’re usually pretty easy to use. Even if you don’t have any design or coding experience, you can probably figure out how to use a template and make it fit your needs pretty closely. Third, they can give you a fairly professional-looking website. With a template, you don’t have to hire and pay a professional designer or developer. You also don’t have to learn everything there is to know about website coding. You can just choose a template that you like, install it on your web hosting account, and then make some changes so it fits your needs.
However, there are also some drawbacks to using a website template. First, they’re not very unique. There are thousands of website templates out there, so it’s very likely that you’ll find one that looks similar to another website. If you want a website that stands out from the crowd, you should look into hiring a professional designer to create a custom website for you.
Second, templates can be difficult to customize. They’re usually designed to be used with specific content and functionality, so you won’t be able to change them significantly to fit your specific needs. If you need a website with a lot of custom features like fancy contact forms, custom animations and interactions, or API connections, you’re going to have to learn how to do some coding or hire a web developer to build it for you.
Finally, without at least some experience working with websites, many throw up their hands after spending an entire weekend or longer. You will have to be ready to set up and manage things like: website hosting, installing or uploading the template. Additionally, the template designer will probably not be located in your country. That means they’ll be in a different time zone and may not speak your language. Their support is usually only available via email. So, yes, it means “buyer beware”, but if you’re comfortable with things like that, a website template might work for you.
And then there’s the ugly side of website templates. Some templates are poorly coded because template designers are more concerned with quantity over quality. That can lead to performance issues. The template might load perfectly for your website visitors who view it from a laptop computer but not for those visiting your site from a mobile device or tablet. That means your site might not work for a significant portion of your visitors. If you can’t solve it yourself and have to hire a professional, that could end up costing more than you think.
But the biggest risk of using a premade template is that it may contain security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can be in the template itself, or they can be in the plugins or add-ons that the designer used when creating the template. If a hacker finds a vulnerability in a template, they can use it to gain access to your website and steal your data. Here are some links, lists and articles that highlight the threat posed by these vulnerabilities.
And if a vulnerability is discovered in a template, the bad actor will search for all the other websites that use that same template. So the hacker can attack multiple websites because of a single vulnerability in a template. This is known as a template injection attack.
So, should you use a website template? The answer is: it depends. Are you on a tight budget? Do you need a website in a few days? Will you be able to use the template without wanting to make big changes to it? If you run into a problem, will you be comfortable working with the code of the site? If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions, then a template might work for you. However, if you want a website that is unique, customizable, and secure, it’s best to contact a professional web designer or developer to build it for you.
If you do decide to use a template, be sure to do your research and choose one that is well-designed and easy to use. Scan it for security vulnerabilities before you install it. Use a reputable website hosting provider. And be sure to keep your website up-to-date with the latest security patches.
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