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    Hi, I'm Leonard. A freelance web designer in Bedford who is also pretty handy at web development. I love designing web sites and when I manage to tear myself away from the computer you can often find me at a band practice or training at the local Kung-Fu school!

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Bad websites have never looked so good

With Geocities now long dead what and where can people turn to for their dodgy websites to embrace their hobbies, cats, sports teams and even, god forbid, businesses.

Well it’s been a long time since the general public has used Geocities seriously, they’ve evolved to such sites as myspace and discovered that webspace is cheap and the best CMS are all available free and legally. Add this to the ever growing armoury of free or affordable templates then you have yourself a web full of well built and good looking sites… surely!? Well, no… Far from it. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this approach at all for personal use but when businesses start to adopt this for a serious site it’s bad for the everyone.

I recently saw the website of a local gym, it looked like it had been designed at least six years ago but was still being updated and used. I made a note to drop by and offer my services but never got round to it. A couple of days ago I checked it out again to see that it had been updated to the Joomla CMS but with a very recognizable Rocket Theme template, which as pretty as they are was not a good thing at all for the gym.

The background looked like the Windows Vista default wallpaper and the text laid over it with a translucent background as part of the main feature of the home page was unreadable because of the busy nature. Besides the lack of focus on any real information, the site at first glance you’d think was for IT support, not a gym. Graphics aside this stock approach choked the ability to present relevant information to the sites visitors and so ultimately is no more useful then the last, it’s just prettier.

So what do you all think? Is using stock templates really such a bad thing? I think yes, but I do acknowledge it can be a great tool for those starting out as a stop gap solution when on a small budget. But not to be relied on anywhere beyond the very short term.

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