Opting for a templated senior living website (also called “websites in a box”) might be hard to resist. Promises of rock-bottom prices and so-called “ease of use” can lure people in. But like so many things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Here’s why you should avoid templates for your senior living website.
1. Little to no flexibility.
A templated site doesn’t allow much flexibility. For example, if a content block only allows 50 words, but you need 300 words to effectively communicate your message, you’ll probably be out of luck. That is, unless you pay someone to customize the page, which can get pricy fast (not to mention cumbersome).
Bottom line: You should have control over how much content you want on a page—and where you want to place it. Same with imagery and other design elements.
2. Problematic backends.
With cheap website templates, the adage “you get what you pay for” holds true. Templates are famous for having too much bloated code beneath the surface, which can make doing updates or scaling of any kind a big hassle.
Plus, poorly coded sites tend to break easily, resulting in frustrations for site owners and site visitors. Remember: Your visitors are your prospective buyers! You want them to have a good experience on your website. The only thing more frustrating than owning a website that constantly breaks is trying to navigate a shoddily built site with lots of broken or dysfunctional bits.
Bottom line: Custom senior living websites require a thoughtful approach. This thoughtful approach extends to the coding and backend development work.
3. Too similar to your competitors’ sites.
Companies that produce so-called budget-friendly website templates will often target specific industries. This makes perfect sense for their business model. They create templates that (attempt to) check off all the boxes for a particular industry. They do this so that they can sell their templates across the industry. The problem for you is that your site might end up looking like all the other senior living websites that use the same template.
Bottom line: The senior living industry already suffers from differentiation issues. After all, most communities essentially sell the same thing. A custom website offers an excellent opportunity to differentiate your community from the rest. Don’t forget most people begin their search online. If you want your site to truly stand out and tell your brand’s story, you need to invest in a custom senior living website that does exactly that.
4. Too generic.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. In addition to being too similar to other senior living websites, templates also have a tendency to feel too generic. After all, the template is designed to satisfy “everyone.” The problem with this approach is the template will feel incredibly safe, boring, and generic.
Bottom line: Prospects aren’t going to visit your templated website and say, “UGH. This is so generic.” But the FEELING will be there, like an undercurrent. Remember: Subliminal messages can be extremely powerful. A custom site will enable you to tell your brand’s unique story.
5. Not typically built with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.
Many templates will claim to be optimized for search. And some might be—to a certain extent. But senior living SEO is a process, not a “thing” you set up once and forget about. Plus, so many different elements influence your SEO process—buyer personas, the prospect journey, and your competitors’ approach to keywords (just to name a few items). A templated website doesn’t take all those things into consideration—only real humans thinking through the process can truly optimize a site.
Bottom line: Why bother having a website unless it can effectively compete in Google by attracting targeted traffic? A custom SEO strategy is essential.
6. Little to no reliable customer service.
Who do you call when something inevitably goes wrong or you need help adding a page or making an update? Sure, there might be a 1-800 number. But will the person you reach know the ins and outs of your site, your goals, and the senior living industry? Probably not.
Bottom line: Work with a web developer or agency partner who takes the time to understand your business. They will provide a better finished product and better customer service.
7. More expensive in the end.
Website templates can work for certain businesses, but senior living communities are not one of them. We guarantee that the “awesome deal” you got will cost you more in the long run—particularly when it comes to lost revenue due to people being unable to discover your site through search. Or worse: They find your site, but it doesn’t engage them, so they navigate away.
Bottom line: Yes, you’ll pay more for a custom website up front, but the ROI it delivers over the long term will be worth it.
All of that said, you do need to find the RIGHT custom website builder for your senior living website.
Not all web designers are created equal. That’s often another reason why people might opt for a templated, out-of-the-box design. It feels “easier” to deal with, at least, on the surface. It’s true that finding a reputable web designer and managing the build-out can feel like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be, though. Entrepreneur has five suggestions for finding a good web developer. CIO also has an in-depth list of 10 tips for finding a good web developer.
Another option is to work with a marketing agency (like ours!) that has experience in managing the senior living website design and development process from soup to nuts. The benefits of working with an agency is that you can often get all the other items you need in order to elevate your site—website copywriting, SEO services, marketing automation, etc.
Remember, a great looking website isn’t enough. It needs to attract targeted traffic that it successfully converts into marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads. Even the best web development firms don’t always have their eyes on conversion strategies and metrics. But a good marketing agency will since it has the ability to see the big picture—and all the elements that influence it.