5 reasons to use an ecommerce template you never thought of

Why on earth would you use a template when you can design your own custom look and feel to your new Sage Ecommerce solution? In Part 2 of our 12 part series – Ecommerce fundamentals 101 – we ask Brooke Anderson, MD, XM Developments, all about design considerations for your new ecommerce system.

Q: What mistake do most new Ecommerce users make when deciding whether to go with a custom-design or a pre-designed template for their Sage ERP?
A: Websites are designed to look pretty, but Ecommerce websites with ERP integration are a tool – they are functional, and there are best practices to be followed. Ever seen the manual for using Amazon.com? Or the book on how to order from Zappos? No? That’s because there isn’t one. Templates are designed using best practices, and this may come as a shock – but your opinion on what colour the ‘buy now’ button should be because it ‘looks nice’… is wrong. The correct answer is it should be red, because that’s what people will see.

Q: Can you try a template before you buy it?
A: Absolutely. Templates give you the chance to basically see what the site will look like before it has even begun to be built. You will see your Sage payment solution, the cart page, the product pages and whether the design will fit your product offering. Choose a template that is as close to what you want from the outset. It will save you time and money. You don’t want to choose a template and then start moving things around and doing major colour changes. It most likely won’t look any good after you have hacked it up.

Q: Coming back to the idea of saving time and money – can you expand on that?
A: The age old adage that time = money is so accurate when it comes to Sage Ecommerce. Building from scratch will ALWAYS, ALWAYS be more expensive, and here’s why – the devil’s in the detail. Think of one innocuous button. That button may have three colors (or states) for one page, hover over and click. Now there are three versions of the same button. If a designer is making those buttons, and there are 100 on a site, he now has to make 300 buttons potentially ramping up the costs.

Q: How does one know that their custom design that they’ve paid good money for isn’t based on a template?
A: In most cases you don’t, and it is probably a template anyway. Some designers take existing templates and then place your logo, colors and products on them. This is fine, as long you know this is the case and that they are doing this and that’s why you are getting good value for money. It’s a good idea to hire a designer to help you set up your template. You will get better quality images and color schemes with less changes and unhelpful (and ultimately useless) comments from colleagues like “it’s just not WORKING” and “it doesn’t POP”. Most people appreciate good design, but have no idea how to get it there. If you don’t think you are one of these people, then you probably are. I once sat with a company that sold computer games and DVDs. They showed me a design they had been quoted for USD$100,000. I went to templatemonster.com and typed in “ecommerce theme computer games” and low and behold, there was the design they had showed me for $100 USD.

Q: What are the relative differences between custom and template designs when it comes to updating or changing them?
A: One is easier than the other. Have a guess which one it is? On a serious note – change is good. Webstores need to be refreshed after a while. It might be a dated design or the release of new technology such as responsive design driving this. One thing I always reiterate to our clients is that if you have one of our Sage templates for XM Symphony, then you can update more easily and quickly, taking onboard what you have learnt from the previous design and making everything better. You just can’t do that cost-effectively by opting for the custom-design route.

When the hard work’s been done for you

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