One of the most significant goals of your business is to have a fully functional and visually appealing website. You’ve done your research and you have come across several free website templates to build your website from scratch. You may be asking the following questions:
Is it really worth it to launch your website for free? Are there any hidden costs to worry about? And is it all too good to be true?
Here at Choquer Creative, we’ll help inform you why free website templates may not be the best option for your organization long-term.
Free Website Templates Don’t Satisfy Your Business Needs
Website design requires careful thought and planning. “By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail,” these are words Benjamin Franklin once said, and the same message echos true for your website.
The website template is the foundation of a website. A solid foundation with customizable design themes, fast loading times, and optional design elements you can add quickly will vastly accelerate your business. On the contrary, many free website templates don’t offer everything in a single package. They often have free mock-ups, but designs are limited. Some web hosts use external templates that hinder load times and hurt your site’s search engine optimization (SEO).
Consider the following elements before selecting a free website template. Items such as your budget, your website’s type and purpose, the level of customization needed, designs that reflect your brand, and if the template is responsive.
Lack of Responsiveness
Responsiveness can make or break your website to rank on Google. In 2021, mobile traffic accounted for nearly 49% of all web traffic in North America. A decade ago, it was nice to have a responsive website, but today it’s a must-have.
The majority of free website templates are marketed as being responsive, but many elements can still be unresponsive. These layouts include text and images that do not adapt to screen width on tablets and mobile devices. Other items like a fixed navigation bar can become a hassle to use.
To ensure proper responsiveness, try resizing your browser windows on these free website templates and observe what happens. Do pictures resize with the text? Do navigation bars remain fixed or adjust with the window?
Sluggish Loading Speeds & Poor Template Coding
Did you know that at least 25% of shoppers abandon a webpage that doesn’t load within about 4-6 seconds? It goes to show that loading times are a big issue today.
You need to be especially cautious of this on free website templates. These platforms use plugins and features which can slow loading times down to a crawl and unfortunately, they cannot be removed. They tend to contain long DOM (Document Object Model) and take up large amounts of space. This makes HTTPS requests longer and your website becomes slower as a direct result of this.
Branding on Free Website Templates
Using free website templates may be adequate quality, but they can come across as unprofessional. They often display logos and ads on your website of the website builder platform. Most of these builders have their name in your actual domain name unless you pay for your own domain.
Lack of Customization & Not Standing Out
If you want your website to be unequivocal and unique, you might as well not even bother with free website templates. It should be of no surprise other businesses are browsing the same templates as you. A blog post written on Squarespace confirmed that around 100 photographers were using the exact same template. Their websites looked decent individually, but they didn’t stand out when they were compared to each other.
Poor Website Design Practices
People today with limited or no coding or design skills can build a website. Free website templates on their own are often professionally designed. However, it can do more harm than good when this design is altered by the user.
Statistics show that visitors only take under 3 seconds to focus on a key area of a website and that 94% of first impressions are design-related. Design practices follow guidelines surrounding navigation, visual hierarchy, and consistency. Drastically adding and adjusting colours, fonts, tools and graphics on free website templates can greatly harm a website’s consistency, accessibility, and conventionality.
Free Websites Templates Are Not Free
The ironic truth is that free website templates aren’t free in the long run. As your intuition may have guessed, there are often catches associated with these builders. Only certain website types may work well for free website templates, such as a personal blog or artist page. There are usually restrictions put in place so you cannot sell goods, make any transactions, or use them for any business purposes at all.
Avoid The Headaches of Free Website Templates
Now you can understand the common issues and mistakes business owners make with free website templates. These builders often look attractive, but having a professional agency build and maintain your website is usually the better approach.