What to watch for when buying a prebuilt website template

Budgets suck, but they’re a reality we all live with. Of course you’re going to want something that is tailored made for your business – who wouldn’t? But sometimes the budget just doesn’t allow for a custom website to be designed and developed. It’s not the end of the world. That’s where the template website comes in.

No matter what type of content management system your website is based on – whether it’s Drupal, Joomla or WordPress, there are a variety of themes out there that not only look great, but are extremely affordable. This may seem like a perfect solution and indeed, a good theme can sometimes provide you with everything you need at the time – but you need to understand what you are getting.

First of all, it needs to be made very clear that a website by itself is NOT a marketing strategy. You can’t expect to launch any website and have a bunch of leads just drunkenly stumble onto it, ready to throw wads of cash at you. A website should be the hub where your marketing strategy points to as a mechanism to track how successful your marketing efforts have been and to be a helpful resource for leads and customers.

Second, keep in mind that prebuilt themes are sold to anyone and everyone, so even though there is only a very small chance that someone else in your local area will own the same template, it is still a possibility.

Here are just a few more important caveats to consider when purchasing a template or theme website:

1. It’s going to have limited capabilities

What you are buying is a pre-made theme for the masses. It’s often going to be what you see is what you get. Many templates websites come mobile ready which is great for saving on development costs, but if you’re hoping to be able to add features like multiple languages, events calendars, custom forms or other custom plugins, you’ll want to make sure the theme will support such features before hand – if you can. Trying to MacGyver something into it later could be more costly in the long run. It’s kind of like buying a prefab home and trying to retrofit a Batcave into it later on.


It’s the 3-bed, 2-bath modular home Gotham deserves.

It’s a good idea to ask your developer to take a look and see what can or can’t be done with it and what the modification costs may be.

2. It’s probably going to be clunky

One of the biggest issues with purchasing ready-made themes is that the developer has often included a whole bunch of extra coding scripts, just incase the end user wants to use them. This can cause some very slow load times.

A good way to gauge this potential problem before buying a template is to see how it loads in the demo version. If even the demo version is taking a fortnight to show up, think of how long it will take once you’ve put all of your content into it.

3. It may not be standards compliant and may not offer support

Some developers like to come up with their own way of creating features for themes that don’t fit all that well with the core of the content management system (WordPress, Drupal, etc.) They sometimes circumvent the built in functions of the CMS in order to make a certain feature work. This can cause obvious problems if you’re already used to working with your CMS of choice. In addition, if the theme developer has created some custom features and has since perished in a silo explosion, you may be up the creek as they say, without any future support or updating capabilities.

Be sure to do a bit of research on whoever developed the theme. Some sites have a rating system similar to Ebay or Amazon to rank the credibility of the developer. On the demo for the theme, you can also usually see what kind of support it offers. Some have open discussion forums where issues are solved quickly and some are just a link to the developer’s email – so he’ll get to it when he feels like it.

Template themes can be a good, quick solution for a simple web presence that you need right this very second. They aren’t really meant to be a solution that you can hang your entire brand on. In order to start creating a successful online brand, there are plenty of additional steps to take before jumping right into a website. We call that inbound marketing.


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