"These days, your website has to stand out within five seconds of a visitor landing on any of your Web pages," Fita says. "That's something a template has a hard time doing if you do not at least put some customization in place."
As the primary point of contact at 3PRIME, a Web marketing and development firm, co-owner Ryan Turner is familiar with template sites and says they often lack important features such as contact forms, search-engine friendly text, brand consistency and clear messaging.
"The website needs to chiefly be flexible and should be designed with the visitor audience experience at the forefront," Turner says. "Every platform has its own limitations, and many solutions aren't chosen based on how [they'll] be used, but by a manager with insufficient background in using the solutions."
Connecticut-based 3Prime helps companies build websites that appeal to their customer base.
For businesses using template sites, there are a number of key indicators that it might be time to try something more advanced. Many reflect marketing needs, Turner says--"the business needs to be able to handle landing pages for advertising, needs to integrate social media, needs to provide access to third parties and needs to upgrade&hosting and email to keep up with the Joneses."
Also, Fita recommends that businesses pay attention to traffic and what visitors do when they land on your website. "When your website produces no actions, it is time to look at a variety of things, including design, branding and development," he says. "If your site receives traffic and no one is really doing anything day in and day out, something is broken."
However, building a better business website without templates isn't easy--and it can be outright painful if you're not familiar with website development. You need to decide if you're going to hire a developer, outsource the project (or parts of it) to a website development shop or keep it in-house. Many of these decisions will be determined by your budget; more on that later.
Turner agrees that there are a number of hurdles that a business will face when developing a website. These include identifying decision makers, working with a developer who can manage the various personalities involved, ensuring distinct design phases prior to locking into development and defining the scope of the project so it can be appropriately managed. The business also needs to identify its audience and the marketing goals for the website.
Can You Develop Your Better Business Website In-House?