On the surface, ready made websites sound like a good idea to get your internet marketing off to a quick start. But what are the pros and cons of using a site that has been built by someone else?
There are various types of ready made website and each has its own plus and minus points.
Some people offer complete sites including the written content but that’s not a route I’d advise going down unless the content has been specifically written for your site alone. There are too many snags with trying to overlay your voice and style onto pre-written content.
WordPress and other similar CMS (content management system) sites such as Joomla and Drupal are complete website management programs.
They handle all the behind the scenes functionality and allow you to control every aspect of your website without needing to know the technical details that are making everything work as expected.
This is a popular solution – around one in every six new websites use WordPress – and works very well.
Whilst any popular system attracts hackers and WordPress is no exception, so long as you keep your version of WordPress up to date, there is very little risk of anything adverse happening.
In much the same way as the operating system on your computer and phone are regularly updated to the nastier elements of society out of harms way, the same happens with WordPress and recent versions will automatically update the program for you soon after each release comes out.
You need to do the same with the plugins (extensions) and themes – that doesn’t happen automatically yet although I guess it could be incorporated at some future stage of development.
The big “pro” of using a system such as WordPress is that all the technical stuff is done without you needing to know what to do or how to do it.
The biggest negative is that if you want your site to do something really specific that isn’t handled by one of the countless plugins available for WordPress then you may need to pay someone to develop that for you. But this only applies if you want to do something very obscure or complicated.
The next thing that is often quoted as a negative with WordPress is that so many other people are using the same design.
You can use one of the built-in design templates (called themes in WordPress) or change the look and feel at the click of your mouse to another free design or a paid-for design chosen from the thousands available at sites like Theme Forest.
In theory, using a ready made design runs the risk that another website in your niche will be using exactly the same design but in practice with the choice of themes available, the likelihood of that happening is relatively low and the likelihood of someone finding the two sites using identical themes when searching is even lower.
And in practice, even though my own website uses one of the built-in themes I often get asked which theme I’m using.
So to all intents and purposes you can treat the built-in themes or a ready-made theme as being as close to unique as you’re likely to get without paying hundreds or thousands for your own custom built theme.
I’d suggest creating a header image to make the site look unique to you. These are available from sites like Fiverr or one of the freelance sites if you want to spend slightly more money and get (maybe) a better design.
The trick with getting a good header image for your website is to walk the fine line between telling the designer where to put everything down to the last pixel position and giving them enough flexibility to come up with a good design that you’ll like but that still fits with your initial concept.
I find that giving graphic designers a fairly broad scope often comes up with a better design than I’d ever have specified. And sites like Fiverr are so cheap that you can get use more than one designer and still be well within budget.
Taking time to customise even just the main header image on a ready made website can be enough to make you stand out from the crowd.
After that, it’s like any other website. You need to regularly create content for it and promote it.
That applies whether your budget is close to zero or stretches to multiple tens of thousands.
Which means that ultimately it’s not the ready made website that is the pro or the con. It’s what you do with it!
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by Trevor Dumbleton