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Why shouldn’t I use a free website template?

Using a free template to create a website may seem like an easy cost effective solution. However, many issues can arise when using free templates.

Firstly, you may not actually own your websites, many free templates are under a rental basis, which means if you are unhappy with the speed of the site and the server you cannot switch providers as you do not own the site. Essentially you would have to start from scratch elsewhere.

Another negative is the fact that users can be left with a bad impression, the template may look nice but ultimately it will be used by thousands of other websites, easily spotted as a generic setup your product or service will be lost in the crowd.

Templates can only go so far as regards design and functionality; the web is fast moving and soon the template is left outdated with functionality updates no longer compatible with older versions of templates. This would leave you with two choices, start again or pay to upgrade to the newest versions, which defeats the object of a “free” template.

Some opt to stay with their old template websites however users soon identify the outdated look and the functionality begins to run into errors leaving you with a faulty site.

Content Creation

When using a free template, you will find that many boxes are filled with generic “Lorem ipsum” text. You will thus have to create your own content which can be too time-consuming for business owners and even if they do have the time, to increase the number of hits on the site the content needs to be optimised correctly.

This leads us to SEO (search engine optimisation) website templates come with no or little SEO options when it comes to adjusting meta tags, titles, descriptions CSS images and much more.

Content of a site goes far beyond just what is seen on the page, for a site to rank high in google a specific SEO strategy is required.

Conversion Rate Optimisation

CRO is also another area that is not considered when using free template sites. CRO is conversion rate optimisation, whereas SEO focuses on attracting people to the site CRO focuses on increasing the chances of a user converting a lead to a sale or enquiry.

It involves a clear easy to use navigation throughout the site with call-to-action buttons leading people to products or enquiry forms. A set template will limit where you can place contact forms and call to actions, without clear navigation and end goal in mind for users, they may find it difficult to find the information they need from your website.

These are just some disadvantages of using a free web template, having an online presence is not enough. A website should create a unique user experience tailored to the user and have the end goal of gaining business.

For a site to be effective it needs to go beyond just looking good but have a well thought out design and technical strategy.