What most people do when creating a new website for their business or organization is 1.) grab a template and 2.) build a website. Look out for Zap number 3: Use one of our nifty templates and build an amazing website for yourself.

4 & 1/2 Challenges to the ‘Pick a Template’ Approach

1. There are too many.

There are more templates for your website than inappropriate tweets from Trump. They are everywhere. Do a Google search for Wordpress templates and watch your computer melt. How are you ever supposed to pick the right one? Hint: There’s a reason God didn’t give Adam 10,000 women to choose from. He made One!

2. A ‘Platform Included’ Sticker Should Be Required.

There should be a Surgeon General for the web. If there was, he or she would require a warning be clearly displayed, reading: Warning, this template comes with a Platform and certain side effects. Ensure you want the platform BEFORE consuming this template. A few years back, some DIY web platforms tried separating themselves from the pack by offering ‘award-winning templates’. SquareSpace was one example templates. Now other platforms like Wix have caught on. If you’re not careful, the allure of the template can make you forget you’re also making a platform choice too.

3. Pretty can still be ugly.

A pretty template can still produce ugly results. Reminds me of a classic Wayne’s World skit from SNL. Garth & Wayne were covering the Gulf War and talking military hardware. Wayne says of the Scud missile, “The first time I heard the name Scud…I thought it was like when you see a good looking person walking down the street at a distance…and then when they get close, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh he is a Scud!’” The beautiful template wrongly prioritizes design over content. But once you’re staring at the finished product, the choice makes for some ugly business results.

4. You get a False Sense of Security.

Done any hunting for a Wordpress template? Then you know most of them have an entire website for support packed with how-to info. While that may seem great, don’t forget that means you likely need the how-to info to use the simple DIY template. Having used many myself, it’s easy to feel overcome by ‘template remorse.’ What’s worse is, like an addict, you find yourself back online looking for another template. “There’s got to be an easier template out there. I just need one more…and then I’ll quit, I promise.” 6 months later you’re walking into a Template Addiction treatment facility wondering where it all went wrong.

4.5 It’s an Empty Promise.

I rarely (as in, never) see a finished product matching the quality of the original template. I’m sure they exist. But the odds are not in your favor. It’s unlikely you’ll be the Tom Brady of web templates.

The Fundamental Problem Behind the Template Zap: Chip & Joanna Gaines

It’s Chip & Joanna’s fault. While I love their hit home improvement show, they’ve done you a diservice. All it takes is one episode to see Chip & Joanna have an incredible eye for spotting old homes and seeing massive potential. Their knack for seeing the bones of an old, run-down house and envisioning a glorious makeover is legendary.

But you and I are mere mortals. We lack the skills to look at an old house, picture the end result, and make it happen.

The same is true when it comes to the template-approach for your website design. I’ve seen it zap many a website project. (Remember, a ‘zap’ represents a common approach between you the client and the designer you work with when creating your website.)

Here’s the rub. You don’t have the skills to look through a bunch of templates, envision how your content will fit, and then unveil a winning website. That’s not because something’s wrong with you. You’re just not the Chip & Joanna Gaines of website design. A winning website, like a house flip, is more than pretty design. You need a great foundation, like a clear message. You need great flow, like your website organization and navigation. You need curb appeal, like an appealing brand. And you need an obvious entrance to welcome guests, like an onboarding plan for those considering doing business with you.

There’s nothing wrong with using a great template in your website project. Disappointment, missed opportunities, and frustrated customers await, however, if you equate a great template with a great website.

Don’t get zapped by the template. Get a great message, appealing brand, and the right plan to help you convert visitors into customers so you can grow your impact.

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