Choosing a Website Template For Your Startup
For most of us, knowing where and how to start is the biggest challenge when creating a website. Here are some insights on how to overcome the hurdle.
Unless you’re a skilled coder with a passion for web design, chances are that you’re not planning on building your company’s website from scratch. But you want your business to stand out – are you really just going to pick one of the same prepackaged themes as everyone else? How do you find a template that sets your site apart?
This mindset is a trap. Don’t try to differentiate your business with a unique website design. Focus on creating a unique value proposition, and use a template that lets you showcase it without expending a lot of effort.
If you don’t have a lot of design experience, you’re a lot more likely to mess your site up than make something eye-catching. And even if you have the chops, is that really where you want to be focusing your time and energy? Start with the basics, and remember you can always change it later.
Originality is Overrated
When you’re researching website templates, you may start to notice the same few basic designs cropping up everywhere. That can make you wary of just picking one of the popular options.
After all, the last thing you want to be in business is just like everybody else, right?
Well, let me ask you another question: Is your company selling web design services?
If not, your prospective customers are probably not paying a lot of attention to your site’s layout and color palette. They’re going to be looking at what you are selling.
They’ll read your descriptions of your product’s functionality. They’ll look at the photos of your app interface. They’ll peruse the customer testimonials and reviewer pull quotes that you’ve shared.
The most important thing your website design can do is not distract them.
People notice ugly design, but good design tends to fade into the background. So there’s nothing wrong with your website looking like everyone else’s. Lots of companies use generic-looking templates – because they work.
You don’t want readers thinking about how your page looks. You want them thinking about what your product can do for them.
Go Easy On Yourself
What you should really be focusing on when you’re setting up your first website is return on investment.
And investment means time as well as money. Every second you have to spend tweaking your website carries an opportunity cost. So when you’re creating a website for your startup, you should aim for something that gives you what you need with as little work on your part as possible.
This is where those out-of-the-box templates you see everywhere really shine.
When you’re just starting out, chances are you don’t need your website to be a Swiss army knife. You need it to:
- Showcase your products and/or services
- Offer a way for clients to reach you
- Link to your product in app stores
- Collect email subscriptions
- Connect with your company’s social media accounts
You might also want to include some blog articles or informational videos to establish your expertise.
Most of the website builders on the market can handle those tasks in their sleep. And they’ll frame all that functionality within tested and proven layouts created by professional designers.
Could you save a few bucks by building a site yourself? Maybe. That depends on how many hours it will take you, and how much an hour of your time is worth as the head of your company.
But keep in mind that your website is not going to stay the same forever. Chances are that within a few months you’re going to want to adjust the color scheme, or add a new page with a portfolio of completed work, or tweak the layout.
This is another thing to look for in a website template: how easy will it be to make changes? If you’re not an experienced web developer, then you’ll want to go for something with a simple drag-and-drop interface, so you can adjust your site’s pages without wasting a ton of time.
The Best Options
Okay, let’s say you’re convinced that you’re better off outsourcing your website design. Now you want to know which platforms you should be looking at to get it done.
We’ll introduce you to some of the options, starting with the simplest, quickest tools and then moving to the more complex ones.
There are a few options that are designed specifically for creating attractive and functional landing pages, and not much else. If all you need your site to do is describe your value proposition and convert sales, these platforms are worth a look:
- Leadpages. One of the more affordable options around, with a drag-and-drop editor that’s a little less flexible than some of its competitors but will handle the basics well.
- Unbounce. Built for creating landing pages for marketing campaigns, it’s a great way to get a simple but attractive site off the ground quickly. It’s got a flexible editor that can let you play with the size and shape of page elements.
- Clickfunnels. In addition to landing pages, this platform offers a range of sales tools like email autoresponders. It also provides hosting for your page.
If you want to leave yourself room to expand your site beyond the basics later on, you could look at some platforms with a wider range of options, like:
- Squarespace. Lots of great-looking templates, organized by business category, with features that work smoothly. Pricing options run the gamut from entry-level to large-scale enterprise.
- Wix. Highly customizable, with more features, templates, and flexibility than Squarespace, but definitely more difficult to use.
Finally, there’s WordPress. It’s a lot more fiddly than the other options we’ve outlined, with lots of room to add your own custom-coded elements.
If you’re going with this option, we’d recommend using a package of premade WordPress themes. X Theme provides a huge range of templates, along with plenty of functionality and a builder tool that’s a breeze even for non-technical users.
The Bottom Line
Don’t be too proud to use a popular and easy-to-use website builder. Lots of founders get hung up on the idea that their website should be unique and attention-grabbing, but that’s a mistake that can cost a lot of wasted effort.
Your products and services should be the things that make you stand out. Your website is just the packaging.