To custom design, or to use an an out-of-box web solution? That is the question every small business must ask themselves.
The answer is clear: A custom website is much more beneficial to your company than a website template.
An obvious benefit of out-of-box web solutions such as Posterous or Active Rain is its price: cheap or free. This may be a valid argument for those thinking of short-term goals only- but in the long run, how much will it affect the growth, or lack thereof, of your business? While web templates are easy to use, it will not be your own website. The host website will have final say over your webpage, no questions asked. Just ask this guy, who started his free Active Rain account in 2006 before his “free membership for life” expired without warning in 2010.
Having control over your own website is important for reasons other than being managed by a big, scary host site. The fact is, there are hundreds of small businesses on the web trying to make it big. A business’s website is critical to get its name out in cyberspace, and a personalized and professional website is crucial for potential customers to take a company seriously. Complete control over your own website is key to having a successful internet presence.
Essentially, a custom website is an investment. Not only is custom web design more pliable to the needs of a company, but it’s also inexpensive in the long run. While you may have to pay now to present yourself to the world, one must think of how much money will be made back in the years to come.
This is not to say you should delete your Posterous account. It’s never harmful to have multiple sources of internet presence. Still, all sources should lead back to a main website that is tailored to the needs of an individual business. A free web template is nice to have (after all, why not?) but a custom website is important to have.
A tailored website greets its customers personally and allows a company to actively use the site as an extension of their headquarters. For example, if your business is a dry cleaner, its website can tell customers when their clothes are ready to pick up. Out-of-box web solutions won’t allow for such essential customer-to-business interaction.
Here’s a final suggestion: keep your free web template, and invest in a much-needed custom website. An independent website can make all the difference in the success of your business through building brand recognition, gaining revenue, and most importantly, increasing customer satisfaction.