I know how it is. I’m a do-it-yourself kind of guy, too. Plenty of business owners start without big loans, funding or venture capital. Lots of us have to do everything ourselves – from the development of the product to the development of a marketing strategy to the development of a website that talks about our product.

As business grows, we know that “do-it-yourself” website might not cut it anymore. Of course, we’ll always applaud the efforts you’ve put into your website, but that’s where we come in – to take your website from good to great.

So, unless you’ve been building websites for the past decade or so, then you know website templates and other do-it-yourself website options are weak and vulnerable.

If you’ve looked into website templates, available from plenty of fly-by-night portals across the web – Like free-website-templates-for-your-business.com – feel free to check some of these sites. They’ve found a way to strip down the website development process so that you get a shell of a design, without any guidance for information hierarchy, no bells or whistles and absolutely NO customer service. They won’t provide support for when the “plug-and-play” turns into “guess-and-check” and the “slick and professional” look turns into “clunky and amateur.” Sometimes, you don’t even need to pay for the design, so I guess you’ll get what you pay for!

So, when it comes to websites, something we know well at Mindspike Design, we’ve got plenty of experience in dealing with “do-it-yourself” websites. Surely, website templates can be a life saver if you are just starting to build your online presence, saving you time and money in this critical step of building your brand on the web.

But, anyone here can tell you that minor fixes to website templates are pretty common, and they can be costly – because a website template is only built to minimal standards. A website template limits your navigation, limits your look, and it can severely limit your user interface. Also, in cases where you want to extract data out of your website (like, what your site visitors are doing on your site), you’re templates aren’t always built to be Analytics-friendly.

Here are a few website template shopping tips:

1. Decide what you want. You won’t be able to buy a great website template to fit your needs until you understand what your needs are. Ask the website template shop what your needs are, and then ask what they’d recommend.

2. Search for it. Take your time browsing all the wonderful templates from the thousands of different sites across the web. Spend days, if not weeks, browsing the sites to see what might come close enough that you’ll settle for it because it’s good enough.

3. Start the development. See what theme you can get to work with your web development software and then follow the instructions. Did you get instructions? Do you have the software? Do you have a website host? Do you have a domain registrar? Do you have enough bandwidth?

4. Choose your images.
Go ahead and fire up your Photoshop or your favorite imaging software. Create a look that will adhere to all the images you’ll have on your site so they all look uniform and professional. Or, you can hire a photographer – but, bear in mind they won’t provide template services or template rates.

5. Write your content. Nobody else knows how your business sounds, so start developing the website’s content for yourself. Remember, you’ve got 10 pages to fill, so get to the point quickly, keep the website visitor engaged, provide them enough information and then make it all search-friendly. Did you remember to search-optimize your content? Did you fill out the meta values? Will people find your website based on the content your wrote?

If you’re smart and talented enough to use a website template, then you’re smart enough to consult with a website designer. We applaud your effort to do your web development yourself, but show us what you’re up to and see if a Mindspike designer can’t help your process out a little bit.

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