Essentials For Entrepreneurs: The Trouble With Templates

Have you ever visited a website you’re sure you’ve never visited before, only to experience a sense of deja vu as you go through the navigation?

Or perhaps you’ve picked up a product in a supermarket, confident it’s the same brand you always use, only to peer closely at the label and realise it’s made by an entirely different company to the one you expected to see?

If you have answered “yes” to either of the above, you’re far from alone. Despite the fact we live in a world where businesses are constantly told they need to be distinctive and innovative, it’s a simple fact: there is a huge duplication of website design and product packaging across many different businesses.


Why is this?

Simply put, the issue isn’t a lack of imagination, but more to do with the kinds of services available to businesses.

We’ve all seen the adverts for services that offer to make essential business areas, such as website or product design, easy – companies like Squarespace, for example, offer an affordable way for a business to build a website using templates, and similar services are available for product packaging and labelling. The benefit of these services to entrepreneurs is that they tend to be cheaper than hiring an original, bespoke design.

However, in exchange for lower costs, businesses that use these services have to accept that a lot of their business’ presentation is going to be unoriginal. After all, the companies providing these “easy” options only have a set number of templates to offer; while these templates can be somewhat customised (a different logo on a website, a different font on the packaging), the core mechanics are the same, which is why many businesses now have websites and packaging that look incredibly similar to one another.


How templates impact customer impressions

The services that offer easy solutions to complex business areas like website and product packaging design have their place, and they’re a good choice for startups who need to watch their costs obsessively.

However, by the time your business is established and profitable, these “easy” services are no longer a good choice. If you have noticed how many businesses seem to resemble one another in their overall presentation, then it naturally follows that your customers have too – and repetition does not foster a sense of confidence.

Customers who notice a professional business has used a basic template service immediately connect that familiar template with an association: at best, they think the company using the template is short on cash; at worst, they see it as a lack of professionalism and individuality.

On the other side of the coin, an individual website or bespoke packaging that is unique compared to what every other business is offering reflects extremely well on the company; it says that they’re investing in how their business looks and that they care what their customers think about them.


What does this mean for your business?

  • Wherever possible, opt for original, bespoke designs for your website or product packaging and labelling. While this may be more expensive, it’s worth it in terms of how your business will be seen by your customers.
  • If you do want to use a template service, customise it as far as you possibly can, preferably to the point it is no longer recognisable as being created from a base template.


In conclusion

By focusing on ensuring your business has original, bespoke web design and, where relevant, product packaging you can be sure that your business truly can stand out from the crowd, and that your customers will look favourably on your efforts.


Pixabay (CC0 Licence)