November 24, 2014
The most important question I get from clients is:
“Why would I pay for a website when I can get a free WordPress template?”
It’s totally a fair question. Entrepreneurs need to be careful with their budget. They need to know they’re investing in something that will add value to their business. I respect that. I just need to ask a question before answering:
“Why would I choose your product or service over your competitors?”
At this point clients usually looks off, dreamy eyed, into the future and lists off the reason their product is great. They are right to. They have spent a lot time and money making sure it is. They are problem solvers and creators.
After they finish, I answer their question:
“Your product is really great. I can see it’s value. You should invest in a powerful website because your product is unique. You website should showcase the same enthusiasm about your product as you do. A template will fall short of that”.
Why a custom WordPress solution is worth it.
A “Free Template” is a box of mystery
WordPress templates do a lot of really cool things. Page builders, image sliders, the works!
Perfect right? Not really.
They are great tools, but they all add up to the total “weight” of your page (file size). The weight of your page determines how fast it loads. Load speed is one of the most important factors of a successful webpage page. According to Kiss Metrics if your webpage takes longer than 4 seconds to load a full quarter of visitors will leave before they even get there.
Unless you’re already a developer, a free WordPress theme could lose you visitors before they see your homepage.
Missing WordPress Features – How do I add that slider thing?
The allure of a free WordPress template usually starts at the live demo of the theme. Here the theme has been crafted to look it’s best. The colours and pictures match. The copy and style match the fictional website’s purpose perfectly. It’s easy to see why a lot people end up choosing this option.
After an hour of figuring out the theme options, most free themes will look a little like your company. There will be a few elements that still have more of the demo’s fictional company’s image than your own. It will be a start though.
This is an accomplishment all on it’s own. It’s fair to be excited if your website looks pretty good at this point.
The problem starts when you see a cool feature on a competitors website and want it on yours. This is where free WordPress Templates can get a bit messy. They either don’t support that feature or require some plugin-trickery to integrate.
Chances are the plugins have their own look and feel. If that style doesn’t match yours, you’re out of luck.
Free WordPress templates don’t have your customers in mind.
Free WordPress templates are meant to fit a lot of websites and blogs. They often look a little generic. More importantly, they will confuse your audience.
For example, the visitors to a wedding planners website and a technology conference website are not the same.
They could be the same people at times, but they are not assumed to be the same audience.
Each website aims to attract specific target audience. Newly engaged couples and Technology enthusiasts. They assume certain things of their audiences and want them to complete different task. Say, Contact the wedding planner or buy tickets to the conference.
The design of each website should encourage and facilitate that task.
Both of these businesses could use a general “event website” WordPress Template. That would be a mistake! Both of these sites have different target audiences and tasks to complete.
Investing in a custom WordPress website means investing in a successful user-centered website.