Home stagers have so many options to get a website these days. A common option is to use a website template to build their own website. Is using a template right for you and your home staging business? We will discuss the good and the bad of templates for home stagers’ websites.
First, what exactly is a website template, and why would you want to use one?
A website template is a pre-made layout for a website. It has the look and feel of a website, but it needs to be customized for your home staging business. The template has specific sections for text and pictures for each page of your website, so all you need to do is edit the text and change out the pictures. Templates also usually include pages that you may need as a home stager, such as a blog, about us, contact us, and portfolio. It’s up to you to edit the content on each of these pages as well.
It possible to get a free website template, but if you have to purchase one, they are typically inexpensive.
A template is not to be confused with a theme. Themes require more website design and development skills than templates, but they also offer more flexibility.
Logistically, a template is a great starting point for the home stager who wants to save some money, using a simple layout, and doesn’t mind being hands on in the creation of their website.
Where Can You Get a Website Template?
Many home staging training and certification companies offer a template type of service. Many other training and certification companies can outsource your website development to their preferred developer. Not only is it convenient for you that these companies are a one stop shop, but selling website templates is an additional revenue source for them.
You may have also heard of the GoDaddy website builder called GoCentral, which offers a home stager website template. Other website builders, like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace offer website templates (note: the links provided are to the home staging or interior designer templates for each website builder). These website builders are relatively inexpensive, and easy to use. We reviewed the GoCentral website builder by GoDaddy here.
Here are Stager Sidekick, we have created website templates specifically for home staging businesses as well. Our templates are built on WordPress, and ridiculously easy for even the least tech savvy home stager to use. You can compare our website templates and custom website service.
Finally, there are home staging themes that you can purchase for WordPress. This option is for the home stager with good technical skills as you would need to get a host, install WordPress, install the theme, and then setup, configure, and design and build your website. Simply Google “home stager website themes”, and you will see these themes, if you’re feeling confident in your website building skills.
There are obviously pros and cons of using a template to make your home staging website. A website template might be right for some home stagers, but other home stagers may have different needs for their time and their business.
Pros and Cons of Home Staging Website Templates
Home stagers have the option to either build their own website or to hire a website developer. So we will use a comparison to hiring a website developer to better illustrate the pros and cons of using a website template.
Making your own website is less expensive than hiring a website developer, period. Since you are doing most of the work, the cost of website template can be considerably less than a custom website from a website developer. You may also find a free website template that suits your needs.
If cost is your primary factor, then you should make your own website with a website template. Just remember the old saying that “time is money” – a little bit more on that in a minute…
Winner: website template
Hiring a website developer to make your website takes less of your time than making your own website. Although that seems intuitive, there is some nuance that we’ll explain. There is no way around spending some amount of time to get a completed website.
With a website template, you are obviously doing the majority of the work. The quality of your website is dependent on how much time and effort you put into it.
Using a website developer takes time also. Your website developer will need to learn about you, your company, and your needs in a website. This could be done by means of a questionnaire, or in a meeting or phone call. The quality of your website is dependent on how much information and direction you provide to your website developer. There will also be website reviews, and changing and editing your website before it is complete.
Remember when we said the cliché “time is money”? Well, how much do you value your time? Any amount of time that you spend building your own website is time that you are not spending on directly making money for your business. For new home stagers, reducing costs is more critical, so spending time to make a website is better than spending a lot of money on a developer. However, for established home stagers whose time is more valuable, saving time by hiring a website developer is more important than the cost of the website.
Winner: website developer
Layout and Functionality
Companies who sell website templates, typically only have one or two options to choose from. However, since these templates are specifically for home stagers, the layouts and functionalities are likely to be optimized for your home staging business.
Meanwhile, most website developers are very good at knowing how website visitors interact with different layouts. They will customize the layout for your business needs. Unfortunately, many website developers aren’t specialists in making websites for home staging business. Therefor, it is important that your developer learns your business and the functionality that is important to you.
Winner: website developer
Most, but not all, website templates from website builders (GoDaddy, Wix, etc.) are relatively easy to use. If you can use Microsoft Word, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem using a template on a website builder. Be honest with yourself about how technical you are, and research how complex the template is before you purchase it.
When using a website developer, you don’t need to know how to do anything. The website developer does it all! You just give them the information, and voilá, you get a complete website. However, at some point you may want to update your website with new information, pictures, testimonials, or something else. Ideally, your website developer trains you how to make these changes, and that you are provided an interface that is not too difficult to work with.
Winner: website developer
Hosting. Speed. Support. Maintenance. SEO.
Hosting – Some sellers of website templates provide hosting, while some require you to find your own website host. Website developers may also provide hosting as an additional service, or at least assist you with getting your own hosting. Obviously, being provided with hosting is much easier, and takes none of your time to set up. But you need to consider the quality of the host. A “shared host”, which most companies will provide you with, is much slower and less reliable hosting option. Bottom line is to make sure your website is on a quality hosting service. You don’t want a website that looks like a Maserati, but has hosting that runs like a Yugo (remember those?).
Side note – Stager Sidekick hosts our clients’ websites on a fast and secure host.
Speed – Website templates are generally not optimized for speed. However, since they are typically pretty basic websites, they don’t have a lot slowing them down.
Large picture files are guaranteed to make a website load slowly. Home stagers sell themselves by their portfolio, which means that you should be loading many large picture files to your website. It doesn’t matter how fast your host is if you have large picture files, your website is going to be slow.
There is a cure for this, so don’t be discouraged. A good website developer may use an image optimizer so that your picture file size is reduced automatically when you upload it. Unfortunately, a template will probably not be able to reduce picture file size, so the more pictures you have, the slower your website will be.
Side note – websites from Stager Sidekick have built in technology to ensure pictures don’t slow down your website.
Support – Website template providers usually provide documentation for you to refer to when you get stuck or have questions. Website developers usually charge an hourly rate when they provide support, but the support you get will be specific to your situation. Some website developers provide a monthly support package, so for a cost, you have access to support as you need it.
Side note – Stager Sidekick provides support for our clients.
Technical Maintenance – Did you know that your website needs to be regularly updated with new versions of plugins, security patches, and software revisions? This is something that you can do on your own, but not something that most home stagers would think to stay on top of.
If you get a website template, chances are that you are on your own. Meanwhile, a website developer may provide a monthly service to take care of this maintenance for you.
Side note – Stager Sidekick provides technical maintenance for all of our clients’ websites.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is possibly the most misunderstood term in websites. You, the website owner, have the biggest impact on the quality of your SEO. A website with great content (a blog, for example), and a quality portfolio of projects (a lot of good, well organized pictures of your work, for example) will have great SEO.
When someone searches for something in Google, Google wants to provide best list of the websites for that person’s search. It’s very simple. Make content that shows that you are great home stager in your area, and Google will send you people searching for a home stager in your area.
Your website provider has a smaller, yet still significant, impact on your SEO. When using a website template, you likely won’t get the assistance a developer can provide. A website developer should create sitemaps, submit your website to the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing), create Meta Descriptions for each page (this only indirectly helps with SEO), and teach you how to optimize your website for SEO.
There is no silver bullet for SEO. SEO takes work and takes time to bear the fruits of your labor.
Side note – Stager Sidekick submits websites to Google and all other search engines for our clients.
Winner: it depends
Final Thoughts on Home Staging Website Templates
The use of a website template to make your website is a great option for many home stagers. A template is cost effective, has the necessary layout and functionality, and can be fairly easy to use.
However, all of the advantages and disadvantages should be considered prior to purchasing the template and spending time building your website. If the information you need to make a decision isn’t available on the template provider’s website, then contact them directly with the questions that you have.