When it comes to designing a website, many people assume templates are the answers to all their questions. This idea makes sense on paper; templates are pre-made websites with design elements already defined and ready for use. The question is, do the advantages truly outweigh the disadvantages?
There are some great advantages to using templates. First and foremost, not truly needing to know how to code. Easy, visual and intuitive steps allow you to get your site up and running quickly, which can be really beneficial if time is of the essence. Since all of the design elements have been created for you, making it unnecessary for you to work from scratch, all you need to do is find one that matches what you want, customize it, and voilà! This also means there's less risk in purchasing a template - if something goes wrong down the road (and trust me, things happen...), you know where the problem came from and who sold it too. Last but not least, individuals and startups might be on tight budgets and many templates are free-to-use to accommodate for the needs of those strapped for cash...
Which brings us to the disadvantages of using templates. First of all, if you're looking for something unique and fully customized to your needs, a template probably won't cut it - they are designed to be generic and standard in terms of design style and functionality. Especially the free to cheap versions. More importantly, however, is not the appearance of your website but the issue of maintenance: any updates that need to happen on a regular basis will have to come from you! Secondary issues also stem from hidden costs down the road; buying or downloading a template may not seem like much of a burden at first glance but over time costs can add up and problems like not having access to free sources such as Creative Commons licenses can halt progress indefinitely.
Another disadvantage worth noting about templates is that their designs often clash with one another when used in tandem. In other words, these incompatibilities might make it hard to bring your unique style to fruition once the template path is chosen. Which brings us to one of the worst long-term problems with template-built websites: most template-website hosting providers are dead ends. Once you create your website through them and their templates, it might be next to impossible to migrate your assets to another platform in the future due to their business models which value, overall, retaining whatever you’ve created under their website’s domain.
If you're trying to sell something quick, or need specific pages for your website that are difficult/expensive to create without using templates (such as an “pop-up” online store), then it might be worth considering templates. If, on the other hand, long-term control and malleability is your priority, if proper maintenance and growth is on your plans, we recommend starting from scratch with a blank canvas and building the website your specific business needs.