Website builders are extremely popular. They seem to offer everything you need to create a functional and appealing website. And if all you want is a basic website, you can build it yourself. This method is cheaper and it seems to work for everyone else, so why would you pay a professional website design agency when you could do it all yourself?
It is this train of thought that can cause you to miss out on a ton of advantages that only a professional website design agency can offer. Sure, the cookie-cutter websites work, but you lose out of certain features like site speed, on-page and off-page optimization, deeper data metrics, funnel pages, and more. Plus, how will you know what you are ranking for and what you need to be ranking for? Even more, how will you handle all of the content needs both onsite and offsite?
While a cookie-cutter website does have a few initial advantages, they quickly lose that advantage as your website ages. Here are a few reasons why a professionally designed website will always beat out a cookie-cutter website.
First Impressions Matter
Cookie-cutter websites are rarely unique, looking similar to other websites on the same template. Sure, the website looks good, but it still looks like everyone else - possibly even like your competition. For a brand, this is not good. If you want to be successful, you need to stand out - especially online.
A unique layout that fits your brand and message is going to engage your visitors better than a sub-standard template designed to be pleasing to you. If you want to stand out, you need to focus on your visitors and what they want. Visitors tend to make the decision to stay or go in less than five seconds. Cookie-cutter templates tend to be too slow for this, especially if it has a lot of sliders and/or hero images on the front page.
SEO and Marketing Potential
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important factors that can affect your website. SEO is not a fix-this, do-that system that gives you special powers. However, there are certain things you can do to ensure your website lands on the first page for your specific keywords.
Professional website design agencies know the rules to follow and what seems to work consistently. Of course, the rules change regularly, so even they have to adjust whenever a new algorithm is incorporated. A website that focuses on good SEO practices will tend to rank higher than their competitors, gaining more traffic and ultimately converting visitors into customers.
For new websites trying to break into a highly-competitive market, a cookie-cutter website will not survive. It does not have the trust, the content, the links, or the metrics. A professional website design agency can use certain techniques to help you move from page five to page one over the course of a few months. Once there, they can help keep you on the first page using trusted and proven on-page and off-page optimization methods.
Cookie-cutter templates do not offer anything outside of on-page keyword analysis and marketing campaigns. As such, you have a pretty website without a way to get it noticed. If all you want is a pretty website, a cookie-cutter approach will work. If you want actual visitors, then you have to incorporate SEO and other marketing techniques too.
Customization Options and Opportunities
Another reason why a professionally built website will outperform a cookie-cutter website is in the customization options. Templates are extremely limiting, forcing you to stay within their approved coding and widgets. If you wanted to change the way one of their widgets work, you would have to send them a request and hope for the best. Or, if the layout needed tweaking, you may be out of luck.
If this affects your user experience, you will lose customers. If you used a professional website design agency, they could make the changes as needed, without any type of limitation. If you do not want to make compromises, a cookie-cutter website is not the best option for you. The reason you are getting the cookie-cutter package so cheap is that they expect you to be happy with what they offer.
Compromising can cause problems over time (i.e. SEO, user experiences). While the price makes it easy to accept in the beginning, the drain it has on your visitors, and possibly you, is not worth it. Do not cripple your business and/or website by using a vanilla-themed, cookie-cutter website.
And finally, you do not own a cookie-cutter website. You are renting access to their tools and platform. If you stop paying the rental fee, you lose your website. If you want to move your website from them to another cookie-cutter web platform to another, you'll have to start over. In most cases, each platform is proprietary and incompatible with other systems.
If you pay a professional design agency, you own the rights to the final product. As such, if you decide to move from their hosting provider to another, you can. Again, cookie-cutter websites are convenient in the beginning. They get much more complex later on after you've already committed yourself.
A cookie-cutter website can work for a small business that just wants a "hello world" introduction. These websites have an introduction, a list of their services, and a breakdown of their hours. Beyond that, they are effectively useless in a competitive market.
If you want to compete and succeed in your market, especially online, you need a website that is built better than your competitors, with great content that is keyword matched, using great SEO and marketing techniques. If you are time-limited or don't know much about every aspect of website design, it is best to leave this to the professionals.
Great business owners know what they know, what they don't know, and who to use to help them succeed. In this case, acknowledge what you don't know and trust a professional to help you.