Template websites, do they work?
15th December 2009

Years ago when I used to work for I was in charge  of their template website department called Rediff Homepages. Basically what we provided was an a quick and simple way to set up  your website using a form driven interface without the user having to know any html or coding language. At its peak we have over 50,000 users, many of them were the earliest users of web in India (I am talking of 1999-2002 period). This was quite popular with Geocities  and Angelfire having millions of users worldwide.

With the dotcom bust these template driven Free websites also went out of business as everything online went fee based and the good old days of the web were replaced with the cut throat pricing of the web hosting providers. But even at its peak only about 10% of the template driven websites were actively being used by their owners. Others just remained dead or unused.

Today although there are sites giving template driven websites they are now linked with some type of hosting package. Basically they have become value-adds for the hosting companies to list among their features.
Case in point Yahoo Hosting -

But now I am seeing something of  a reemergence of these template driven sites. They are being touted as a time-saving marketing solution for the busy professional. Not to mention money-saving in a tight economy. They are usually priced about 10-15% of what it would take to hire  website professionals such as us.

Do they work? Lets take a look at the Pros and Cons. Some of them are quite obvious.


  • Cost Effective. In a tight economy nothing beats the savings these websites give.
  • Time Saving. A full-fledged  engagement with a website designer can take up to a month and loads of time. A template site can be setup within an hour.
  • Easy to update. No messy html. No calls to a web designer who charges by the hour. Simply login and presto your site is updated.
  • Most of them nowadays can be linked with your domain, so no more type domains you can now have
  • You can customize colours and layout from a range of options. Most providers give a range of templates and colour options to choose from.


  • Not a unique design. You have to share the look and feel of your site with hundreds of other website owners. Although your website may be clean and good to look at their  is no hint of uniqueness. It?s classic cookie cutter.
  • Logo tends to look weird. Most template websites have a pre-designated  spot to upload your logo to. Sometimes the logo fits into the design but most times it just looks out-of-place  and weird. Spacier the logo weirder it will look. Most web designers take the logo into account while designing and blend it seamlessly into the design. This is not possible with template websites.
  • Development Ceiling. As your business grows your website must grow but eventually you will hit a ceiling with the template driven website. There is only so much you can customize. As you get more and more data it gets difficult to fit it in. Maintenance and editing becomes an issue and eventually at this point you have to turn to a web designer or pay the template provider to customize the site for you.
  • Miss out on the web designers experience. When you hire a web designer you also hire his/her experience learnt over a period of time. The little tricks and ideas, the customized advice, the holistic view of the project. You miss out on this wealth of experience a web designer can bring to your enterprise.

The 80-20 principle.

This principle tends to apply here to maybe. Just a thought. 80% of people might go for a template based website. But there will be 20% who will invest in a web design solution. These are also the 20% with the fastest growing businesses who reap tremendous benefits from their  sites and use them as an important part of their businesses.

And then there are the exclusive  5% percenters like many of my clients who go the whole hog to give their customers a fantastic web experience. No template for them. Its professional websites baby!!


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