When you set up a blog for your business, or decide that it’s time to do a complete overhaul of your existing site, you’ll be faced with a number of design decisions. Much of the focus will be on how your new site should look and how people will interact with it, and rightly so. As the internet “face” of your business, these are very significant issues.
But you also need to decide how your blog is going to function behind the scenes, and choose the structure and framework on which your blog will be built. If you are using a popular framework such as WordPress, Joomla or perhaps using one of the pre-built blogs that your hosting provider offers, you’ll be using what is known as a “template.” Using blog templates provides a number of pros and cons that you should carefully consider before going forward.
One advantage of using a web template is that you can get your blog up and running much more quickly than if you were starting from scratch. A web template is usually ready to go right out of the box, or very close to it – you would probably still need to customize the template for your business name, contact information, and the like.
Because they save you time, templates are also likely to save you money. There’s a good chance you can find a free or open source template to fit your needs, or that is already included in the cost of your web hosting package. But even if you decide to purchase a template, it is likely to be significantly less expensive than either hiring a blog programmer to build your site from scratch, or trying to learn to do so yourself.
Templates that are in wide usage by other blogs are also likely to be stable and less likely to break down. Any bugs or defects in the code are likely to be discovered and possibly remedied by other users. Some popular templates even have discussion board communities on which you can find tips on maximizing the effectiveness of the template.
On the other hand, popular templates suffer from a significant disadvantage because when a template is popular, it means that there are likely a number of other blogs that look quite similar to how yours would look. Many businesses know that their success is going to depend, at least in part, on their ability to stand out from their competitors. Sometimes trying to start with a template and then undertake significant modifications winds up breaking a template, so you’re back to square one.
In addition, although there are many reputable and trustworthy sources for blog templates, there are also some sources that could wind up significantly damaging your business. Hackers and computer criminals have been known to take templates and add short snippets of malicious computer code, then offer the template for free. The code is often very hard to see, and wouldn’t be found by anyone unless they were digging deep trying to find it, and could compromise your blog or let the hacker potentially take full control of it.
WordPress and its templates (known as “themes”) are common targets, due to the popularity of the WordPress framework. Avoid downloading any WordPress themes or other templates that you see offered for free, but which costs something from the official source.
Make sure to consider all the factors outlined above before deciding whether to use a template for your blog.