Small Businesses, Build Your Website Right

My boss just passed along the link to the commercial below for Intuit Websites, a company that aims to help small businesses build websites right! Watch the short commercial and see if you can spot what’s wrong with Intuit’s approach:

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Can’t see it yet? Then I’ll tell you: services that give the impression that it’s a good idea to build a business website using templates1 are lying to you. That’s right, lying. Universal template-based websites are rarely a good idea for anyone, and certainly not businesses.

You run the risk of your website looking just like a ton of other people’s but with slightly different colors or a different picture in the corner. Plus, I’ve rarely come across a template service like that which results in good-looking websites. They claim they’ll make the site building process easier, but easy too often means so simple that you might as well use MS Frontpage for all the good it will do you.

Not all small businesses have the money to hire fancy web design firms and it’s true that the president’s nephew probably isn’t the best way to go. But do not make the mistake of thinking that those are your only two options. There are tons of independent and freelance designers who will not charge you as much as a firm yet will still do a good job. If you’re really, really in a budget crunch, a college student studying design will do you better than a template site.

So please, whenever you see a commercial such as the one above: run away. Run away screaming. Because sites like that may seam easy and a good deal but it is all a horrible lie.

  1. This is different from websites that use WordPress templates. Though you do want to make sure your WP doesn’t look like everyone else’s, you can still use a template made by someone else and tweak. The kind of templates I’m talking about are generally for non-dynamic sites. And sites shouldn’t be non-dynamic, anyway. []
  • My dad paid sixty bucks for a template from somebody or other when he was unemployed and trying to get consulting work. Not only wasn’t it original, it wasn’t even particularly competent, design-wise — too many typefaces, too many font sizes, too many gradients, and no sense of a grid. And it took me all weekend to unfuck the HTML.