ARE FREE WEBSITE TEMPLATES WORTH THE “MONEY”?
You want to get your e-commerce website off the ground without it costing “an arm and a leg.” So, like any savvy entrepreneur, you start exploring cost-effective options for launching an online store. Given costs vary depending upon factors such as web design, the choices you make during the planning and development stages will determine what it costs to launch your store.
Building a website from scratch will likely blow your budget—as well as make it more complicated to get your shop up and running in a reasonable amount of time. Furthermore, unless you have a background in web design and coding, a custom website can be more complex to set up and troubleshoot on your own.
Nowadays retailers have another option; designing fully featured stores based on customizable templates and hosting their stores using existing e-commerce platforms like Shopify. There are free website templates and premium templates available, each one with its own unique combination of design elements.
Even within premade themes, you’ll find a range of prices—from free up to about $180 or so. At this point, you’re probably wondering: Are free website templates worth the “money”?
Advantages of Using a Free Website Template
First, let’s take a look at the primary advantages of going with a free theme for your e-commerce website. Above all, they’re cheaper and much less time consuming to launch than building a custom website. They’re also “What You See Is What You Get,” so you’ll have a preview of what your store could look like before you commit. This eliminates the need to wait for a web designer to send you a finished product you may or may not like.
Of course, on the flip side, you’ll only have a degree of customization available, as the layouts and certain design features are fixed. Free themes can take you a long way, but only if you choose one befitting your brand and store.
In terms of your monetary investment, you’ll be minimizing the amount you have to spend to launch your store. This makes them an appealing choice for stores just starting out on their e-commerce journey.
What You Want in an Ecommerce Template
The value you get from any given e-commerce template depends on its capabilities. Here are some of the most desirable traits for any template—free or premium—worth its weight in gold:
- Clean, intuitive layout
- Look and feel matches your brand
- Easy navigation for visitors
- Allows modifications
- Quick loading times
- Support available
- Mobile responsiveness
It’s important to evaluate any template you’re considering on the basis of desktop and mobile performance. More people are turning to their mobile devices to shop and complete transactions. In 2017, nearly 35 percent of all U.S. e-commerce sales occurred on a mobile device. In order to capture this growing percentage of sales, you’ll need a highly mobile-friendly template. Before choosing the theme for your online store, make sure it looks great across devices and functions well, making it easy for people to reap the benefits no matter their screen size.
So, are free website templates a worthwhile investment? The exact answer depends on the nature of your store. But for burgeoning e-commerce retailers seeking a cost-effective way to set up a store that looks sharp and provides solid user experience, free templates are an excellent option.
As you’re searching through the many themes available, prioritize user experience and your company’s unique branding. This will enable you to take something premade and make it your own.