Wordpress, Squarespace, and other DIY templates may seem like a good idea at first glance because of the relative ease of use, the ability to edit your own content, and the (usually) good design aesthetic, but if you're at the stage in your business where you don't need to have your hands on absolutely everything, then this post is for you. We're writing today about why we won't use themes and you shouldn't either.
By using a pre-made theme, you are locking your users into a flow that may not be natural for their buyer journey or your intended outcome.
Once in a while, someone with a Wordpress site will call us up and ask us to help them add a feature or a capability to their site that their theme did not intend on having. Plugins can be a natural solution and a simple request, but this isn't always the case. Plugins work by inserting code into your site that was pre-written to solve a generic problem. This becomes painful when the features you need aren't so generic.
Let us tell a quick story, then we'll get back to the point. A few years ago, a potential client came to us in a panic because her site had been hacked and turned into a Japanese porn site. Yep. Her beautiful small business was now overcome with raunchy images. Her site was hosted on GoDaddy, and when she asked them to revert her site to a previous version, they said, "Sorry, we weren't taking automatic backups." So, poof! There goes all her hard work building her site. When she came to us, she asked if we could fix the hack. We told her that the answer was, "Likely, yes," but we also told her that fixing the hack may not fix the cause of the hack. Upon further investigation, it became very apparent that the hackers were able to access her site through a plugin that had not been updated and was not compatible with her recent version of Wordpress, and that there were about 4 others that were also not compatible. Big problem.
When you strip away the capability of plugins, sometimes the site is too bare-bones to execute what you need it to do. If you need your site to be a portfolio site and you can no longer use a portfolio plugin, your site is rendered useless.
The ending to the story above? We built her a beautiful custom site that is still one of our favorites to-date.
With Google at your clients' fingertips, they can easily browse 10 of your competitors before coming to you. How embarrassing is it if your potential client says "Oh, wait! I thought I saw this one already," and moves on, just because you had the exact same layout?! With Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and often Wordpress themes, the ability to really make your site stand out is limited. If your business is not the same as the one down the street, make sure your website shows that.
Really good question. We are proponents of 100% custom-coded sites. We don't use themes, we don't use templates. We take the time to get to know your business and we build your site the way it needs to be built, from the start. If you're needing a small business website, good news! We price by page, not by feature. So, if you're looking for a gallery, a blog, scrolling testimonials, interactive forms, or anything else you can dream of, we've got you covered. What makes it even better? Our content editor is a piece of cake, so if you DO want to edit bits of your content on your own, you can do that with ease.
A custom-built website isn't going to be the perfect fit for everyone. Back in the day, prior to exclusively focusing on custom-coded websites, we worked with several clients who we built customized sites for using portions of themes, primarily because of the ease of client-editing. If you don't feel ready to take the step into the world of custom-coded sites, maybe a Wordpress or Squarespace theme is the best route for you. Think about your budget, necessary functionality, aesthetics, competitors, and more. If you're unsure what's going to be best for you, don't hesitate to reach out. If a custom-coded website isn't the best choice, we'll guide you to some templates and template-gurus who can help.