Recently I went online to templatemonster.com to take a look at the latest work from great web designers — just to brush up on my “competition” and see how I can improve my skills to be on their level. Suffice it to say that it might take me a little bit longer to even get that good.
But this post isn’t about my web design ability. Rather it’s about what I saw on that site and how it brings and interesting view into light:
Would you rather have a templated/cookie-cutter layout for your site or one where the design team pours its talent and passion into something more representative of your site?
Now before you answer, please note that there is no wrong answer, but matter a sense of preference. On one hand, if you do a templated (or cookie-cutter) website, you save money and it will reduce the amount of money you will spend on this project, perhaps making you the favorite in front of your boss for completing a project so quickly and for less money. On the other hand, you might find out two months later that your nearest competitor copied that design after hiring the same interactive agency and therefore eliminates any chance you have at being unique.
There are so many different points and perspectives to this, but I have found that if you spend the time to look into a company to do a website for you, there is also an obligation for that same company to spend the effort and pour their heart and soul into providing a quality product for their customer. If that company isn’t interested in being passionate for the sake of the client, then what are they passionate about? Money isn’t everything if you don’t have repeat and referral-based customers. These customers want to be able to say that they have a website all for themselves and that it is representative of their company. Take for example if you have AT&T hire X company who specializes in templated websites. X builds the website (but it’s not an exclusive template – meaning that anyone can use it if they want) for AT&T and the media giant thinks that it’s representative of their company, customer service, and products. But, later on, Toys ‘R’ Us hires X company and inadvertantly uses that same design, but the only difference are a few images here and there, but the architecture and content management is the same. Look at both websites and try to tell me that you wouldn’t be confused. I’d be a little caught off-guard and see a definite disconnect.
Templated websites can be a good thing, based on a particular company’s need. But, in my opinion, websites are part of a company’s first line of defense to give a great impression. If you see a design that you swore you saw on another company’s site, then that impression went from favorable to “I’m not sure about this company”. Make your website stand out and has that WOW factor, not the what? factor.