I recently saw a commercial for Intuit quick and easy websites. Their sales pitch was perfect, promising that anyone could use their templates to build a great professional looking website in no time. They even offered a free trial for 30 days. After the 30 days you’d be charged $4.99 a month. Still, $60 a year doesn’t sound bad for a website does it? Wait. Have any of you listened to what I’ve had to say about a ‘static’ website?
The secret behind the ease of building a website with Intuit (or any other template based website service or application) is the fact that you choose a template.
1. a pattern, mold, or the like serving as a gauge or guide
2. anything that determines or serves as a pattern; a model:
The word in this definition of template that jumps out at me like a big red flag is ‘mold‘. It brings to mind a production line of perfectly identical items.
Some of them are painted different colors or different patterns but underneath it it all each one is exactly the same as the others.
Now that businesses are discovering the necessity of having an online presence, it’s becoming more and more important for your website to be unique and stand out from the rest of the crowd.
And that’s not the only drawback to using a templated website. Because of the nature of templates, there are limitations as to what you can add, adjust and do with your website.
For example, recently a local magazine decided they wanted a blog added to their website. They wanted a blog that not only featured a new post each week, but that readers could add to as well. Unfortunately, their business site was built on a template service very similar to the Intuit one I saw on tv. After speaking with the support department they received the following options. They could make a ‘forum’ where they could post a new topic each week and allow reader interaction in the ‘thread’, or they could link to a blog hosted somewhere else. They had no ‘blog’ template. In fact, for me, someone used to working in a blog framework, adding anything to the website was downright cumbersome. Even just adding copy and formatting the text was like slogging through molasses compared to what I was used to.
My immediate thought is why would anyone choose a template website for their business when they could choose a blogsite? Are they under the misconception that they must maintain an active blog on a blogsite?
I think a business blog is the single most effective online marketing step you can take.
But, if you truly aren’t ready or don’t want a business blog, you don’t have to. With the ability to create pages and not just posts gives the user the ability to not only have individual webpages for your site, but to create them quickly and easily.
Besides the ease of use, another benefit many business owners see in using a templated site is the cost. Compared to the cost of having a web designer build a business website for you at anywhere from $1.200 to $6,000 or more depending on the level of customization, a mere $4.99 a month sounds great!
But think about just what that $60 a year is getting you. A website that just sits there on the web and pretty much does nothing. The dreaded static website. Sure, it may show up in search engine results like they say, but does it keep those visitors coming back? Or better yet, turn them into clients?
If you’re a little bit tech savvy you can build a blogsite yourself and using a ‘theme’ personalize it with your own logo, graphics, etc. You can use plugins and/or sidebar widgets to do just about anything you might want.
Sound a bit too technical for you? No problem, you can still have a great, easy to update blogsite built for you for much, much less than the thousands of dollars a traditional website might cost you.
And remember, no matter how ‘easy’ they claim building a website is, it’s going to take time and a good deal of thought to build an effective website.