When you’re finally ready to take the leap into selling parts online, it can be extremely tempting to purchase a website template. They’re cheap, you don’t have to know how to code, and you don’t have to hire a website designer.
But website templates are one of those things that are simply too good to be true. While they may be inexpensive initially, website templates come with many hidden costs – both financial and otherwise – and should be avoided. Here’s what you need to know.
Problem #1 – It’s Hard to Stand Out
Companies that create inexpensive website templates often create a handful of choices by industry. You may visit one of these template sites, find the “automotive” category, and find yourself with about 10 templates to choose from. Perhaps you find one you love that does everything you need it to. What’s wrong with that?
The problem is that the chance of another auto parts retailer – possibly even a direct competitor – also finding and loving that template is high. With a limited number of templates and a high number of auto parts retailers without a website designer on staff, you’re going to end up having the same website as many other companies. The graphics, layout, typography, etc. won’t be branded for your business – they’re the same as every other site using the same template.
The last image you want to present your customers is that you’re a run-of-the-mill auto parts e-tailer. If they’ve been shopping around for parts and have seen a website nearly identical to yours, that’s exactly what they’re going to think. And then they’re going to take their business elsewhere.
Don’t lose potential customers by having an ordinary website. Your website is an extension of your business and should be as unique as you are.
Problem #2 – Limited Ability to Customize or Make Changes
While you may luck out and find a template that does absolutely everything you want it to do, that’s often not the case. Most of the time, you’ll love a template you’ve found only to learn that the features you loved – responsive design! featured images on model pages! – are only available if you pay extra for them.
Something else that’s common with website templates is how easy it is to incur extra costs any time you need to make a change to the site. Say you decide you want to add a photo gallery to your home page, but that’s not a feature your template offers. It can cost a fortune to make edits to the template, whether you find your own designer to edit the code or go back to the company that provided the template.
Many website templates also feature bloated code that can be difficult for a designer to navigate and edit, which means it will cost even more to get the changes made. Even small changes can add up. With a template, you often need to contact the company you purchased it from to make any updates to your website.
Problem #3 – Many Times, SEO Is Ignored
A template designer’s goal is typically to create a website that looks nice, but having a nice looking website doesn’t help you get found online. What these designers forget is to make it possible for businesses to optimize these websites. From not having the ability to add a meta title and/or description to header tags not working with the site, templates don’t do your rankings any favors.
Another way template designers ignore SEO is by not offering a responsive template or by offering it only at an additional cost. With Google now penalizing sites that aren’t mobile friendly, you can’t afford to not have a responsive website.
Problem #4 – Templates Don’t Always Convert
As we said, template websites are meant to look nice, but that doesn’t mean they function well. If they aren’t focused on user experience and conversions, they won’t make you much money. If a potential customer doesn’t get past the home page because they can’t find the part they’re looking for, they’re going to leave the site and go elsewhere.
With custom website design, your website gets tested at least initially and generally the designer will continue to test the site and make tweaks to optimize conversions.
Bottom Line – Most Templates Aren’t Ideal
Generally speaking (there are probably some exceptions somewhere), auto parts ecommerce website templates are a poor investment. They can make your site look generic, they can be hard to modify or change, they usually don’t incorporate SEO best practices, and they’re almost never designed with conversions in mind.
Unless you’re trying to get a parts ecommerce website off the ground for no investment (and have plans to invest in a custom design later), we do not recommend using a template. At a minimum, hire a designer/developer to customize a template to account for conversions, SEO, and to make it look unique. Ideally, however, you’d hire someone to help you build a quality site design from scratch.