Are Website Builders and Ready-made Templates a Competitor to Designers


We all admire technological advancements that make our life easier. After all, this is what drives progress. However, when these technology advancements hurt our business, we tend to hate and condemn them, as is the case with website builders and ready-made templates.

Website builders and ready-made templates are a way for everybody to create a site, even if he or she has absolutely no knowledge of HTML, coding, or design. They are a relatively simple and relatively cheap (and very often completely free) solution to get a decent website fast. In a sense, they are a quick and dirty solution when a client wants a not-so-complex but good-looking site and when he or she doesn’t have the money, the time, or both to have a site created especially for him or her.

However, these aspects of website builders and ready-made templates have raised quite a lot of negativism in the Web community. Yes, you can see some not-so-good-looking sites created by a website builder or by using a ready-made template, but unfortunately, you can see many more of these created by designers who deem themselves professional.

Actually, these concerns over the quality of sites cover a bigger concern – that website builders and ready-made templates compete with designers and as a result, many designers have to either lower prices or lose clients. In some cases, even if you lower your prices, you can’t beat a free service, so you just see how you are losing another client.

You can hear quite a lot of concerns that website builders and ready-made templates are killing the business of designers but are these concerns grounded? Can website builders and ready-made templates really be a problem for a designer, not to mention kill his or her business?

Yes, You Do Have a Problem

This problem is called positioning – you are not properly positioned on the market. You are in the same segment as them and this is why you are competing with website builders and ready-made templates. They are cheap and quick and so are you. Is this where you want to be?

Yes, website builders and ready-made templates do eat market share but they are in the lowest price segment. In a sense, you have $5 T-shirts vs $500 suits. Both of them have their place in life, and manufacturers of $500 suits aren’t angry that $5 T-shirts are eating their market.

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If you need a $5 T-shirt, you won’t buy a $500 suit even if you can afford it, so you are not a client in the expensive segment. The same applies to website builders and ready-made templates on one hand and your professional services on the other.

Well, if you are trying to sell $5 T-shirts for $500, then you will have a problem. There isn’t a shortage of stupid clients, but (fortunately) it will be very hard to find victims to scam them to this amount.

The opposite scenario – when you have a professionally-made site for $500 but the client won’t pay more than $5 because this is what he or she sees as a fair price based on his or her experience with website builders/ready-made templates might be more problematic. In this case, you either try to explain to the client why this suit/site can’t cost as low as a T-shirt, or simply turn the client the down.

In either case, website builders and ready-made templates shouldn’t be a competitor to you. In a nutshell, if they are a problem for you, then you have a problem with your design/sales skills and this is what you must improve rather than complain how automation is throwing you out of business.

The Solution? Turn Your Enemy Into an Ally

You might feel very much like exterminating website builders and ready-made templates but this is not possible (and not necessary, I would say). Of course, the best is to be in the $500 suit segment – i.e. to play high where website builders are not present at all but since this is not always possible simply because there are many more clients in lower segments than in this one, you need to adapt.

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All you need to do is adjust your business to their existence – not exactly if you can’t beat them, join them but a variation of the tune. Here are three ways in which you can make use of website builders and ready-made templates:

  1. Use them as a basis for your designs. I know that many of you frown at the very idea to do this (“What?! Do I have to go that low?!”), but actually, this isn’t something to be ashamed of. Do you start every single site you design from scratch? No, you re-use much of what you have. It really makes no difference if you use website generators, your own templates from previous projects, or website builders/ready-made templates (provided they are not an unusable mess) as a time-saving basis for your designs. Many top designers do it, so why reinvent the wheel?
  2. Offer customizations. There are really a lot of free and paid templates but this doesn’t mean you can find absolutely everything you want. A client might like 90 or 99 percent of a template but want minor modifications to make it exactly what he or she likes. Here you come to the play. You can offer customizations. Small jobs, such as adding/removing a column, or changing the color of items, are not difficult, and even if the template is made in a way you don’t agree with, usually these changes are safe to make – i.e. you won’t break the whole template. I know it’s not the most pleasant thing to deal with changes to design/code unknown geniuses made, and there are many mines to watch for but if the template is done according to the rules, minor changes are usually fast and safe to make.
  3. Create free templates with your contact info and use them as a promotion tool. Finally, one more way in which you can use website builders and ready-made templates is as a promotion tool. Create a bunch of free templates, put your contact info in the footer, and offer them as a free download. These might not bring you crowds of clients but they help spread the word about you and your services. You can also offer customizations for a moderate fee – these customizations should be much easier when you yourself have created the template and know its intricacies.

Website builders and ready-made templates are here to stay – you can’t change this. If you want to stay in business, you need to change your routines. Move to a higher segment where these tools aren’t a competitor, or offer additional services they don’t offer (content writing, SEO, etc.) and you won’t have to cross ways. You just need to adapt to the realities!

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