Few websites are built without some kind of templating. Even web developers use low level templating to organize their code and streamline their development process.
If you’re building your own website you’re probably using a visual template for your website (often called a theme). You may even be using a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) drag and drop web builder (like what is offered by WordPress’ Gutenberg, Wix, or Weebly).
But there is an inherent danger when using website templates – forgetting to make them uniquely yours. You don’t want someone visiting your website only to find some content they have seen on a similar looking site elsewhere.
Once you’ve completed your first draft with your website template don’t forget to tie up these loose ends:
Most web templates include some static text meant to get you started, explain the purpose of the template page, or give you instructions on how to use that page template.
Don’t forget to replace or edit this text. Your best bet, read it and then delete it and write the content for your own page.
You don’t want boilerplate on your site. Even if the homepage template’s text sounds like it’s gold you don’t want to run the risk of sounding like someone else, publishing duplicate content, or being noticed for being identical to another site.
Write your own content or hire a copywriter to write uniquely great content for your site.
Default stock photos
You want your website to look great. Hey, we get it. You don’t have the time or equipment to take photos as great as the stock photos included in your template.
But stock photos can kill your uniquely great image and reduce you to looking like just another site in the ________________ market.
Authenticity is more important than a polished image – especially for younger Americans.
Take the plunge! Take your own photos or hire a photographer to take photos of your business. Your online visitors will appreciate the authenticity.
Social media links and icons
Many themes and templates include social media icons in the site header or footer.
Don’t leave these unchanged.
You give your visitors a poor experience when they click the Facebook icon only to be taken to the Wix Facebook page, for example.
Ensure that each of these links point to your own accounts.
Oh, and if you have an inactive account don’t link to it. Why would you want your visitors to see that you haven’t tweeted in over a year? Link social accounts that you own and maintain.
Many professional website themes and templates include sample and template pages meant to give you a solid foundation you can customize.
Some themes include more page templates than you will utilize. Don’t merely remove these from your site menu. You also need to delete them completely.
Too many sites include published template pages that, although not in the site menu, are being indexed by search engines.
Make sure that only pages you’re using are published.