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The big bad website scam

December 14, 2016
Imagine you have ordered a one of a kind, custom designed wedding ring, for your soon to be wife. You’ve paid some serious money and have been anxiously waiting for months for your state of the art, custom piece of jewelry to be ready. Your fiancee was over the moon and proudly wore her custom ring, that perfectly embodied your special, one of a kind love…. Until one day she walked into a department store and spotted the very same ring sold by the dozen for 50 bucks..

How would you feel? Would you be angry? Sue the jewelry “designer”? Not marry your gullible fiancee? All of the above?

Well, what if I told you that the gullible fiancee in this story is actually you. That special, unique ring is your companies website and the cheating jewelry designer is your web developer?
​ Keep reading…

In the past few years, I come across way too many businesses in South Africa, who are spending a small fortune on their “custom designed website” only to find out that the design agency or web developer they contracted has simply used a template sold on www.Themeforest.net and available to anyone who wishes to purchase it for 58 Dollars!

It may sound fantastic, almost unbelievable, but you see it correctly. We’re not talking about an inexperienced Freelancer or Junior Web Developer, who has pulled the wool over these clients eyes so blatantly to make an extra buck or two. I’m referring to well known and large digital agencies misleading corporate clients with sizable marketing budgets to spend.

Certainly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using an attractive, well designed and coded template for a client with a small budget, as long as the client has been honestly informed and thus know from the outset that a template will be used and that the same template is available to anyone who happens to want to buy it. The business ethics are the key factor here..

What is not ethical, but is happening all too often, is selling clients custom websites and charging custom prices on the basis of the time spent in development, but delivering a cheap, template driven website that has been sold and downloaded thousands of times from websites like www.Themeforest.net  and others.

How do you, the unsuspecting client with no coding or any technical knowledge, check if your website is a custom job or template? 

How not to be a victim?

You can either view the page source code ( just right-click on the page and select View page source)

you could use a third party online service such as http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/
or http://www.wpthemedetector.com/
Just simply enter your site URL and it will tell you the name of the theme your website is using.

So what is the difference?

With a custom designed website, each element of the website is built around your own content and the marketing strategy that your business requires. As it’s name implies, it is fully customizable and can accommodate future expansion to enable it to grow as your company expands. A custom site has far better SEO potential as it is designed from the outset to maximize your companies exposure on the web. They are designed to be responsive, retaining all functionality and appearance regardless of the device or browser being used. The uniqueness available to you in custom design sets your business apart from the competition and the flexibility of custom coding is unmatched by the strict conformity found in templates.

Disadvantages of template driven websites

Your company has no unique online presence, as anyone can purchase the template driving your website and even copy features of your design if they wish. Templates typically load and display slower and many are still not responsive to mobile devices. Templates have very limited functionality, their graphics and navigation is often poor due to the overloaded script required to appeal to the widest audience possible. Templates are notorious security risks. The need to design and sell the template as fast as possible to catch the latest trends, often leads to incomplete testing leaving bugs and security holes that make easy prey for hackers.

By their very nature, templates become outdated and suffer from a lack of continuous support. Once the template is deemed to be old or not in fashion, it is often forgotten by the developers and without ongoing support and refreshing, the template will eventually suffer from higher bounce rates, poor user experience as detailed above.


In conclusion, allow me to say that templates are a great option for clients with smaller, more constrained budgets. They give businesses a presence on the web that they might not have been able to otherwise afford. However, for clients with the budget and the need for a more sophisticated solution, custom designs are the only way to satisfy this particular demand and clients that have contracted agencies or designers to create this for them, need to take responsibility for ensuring that they are in fact getting what they are paying so dearly for. Any development contract should state clearly what is being provided: a template off the shelf or a custom designed solution, developed from scratch, with benchmarks stipulated for each phase of the project.

For developers, who have been contracted to create custom solutions for their clients, you are obliged to adhere to your contracts and not cheat your hard won clients out of the magic they have paid you for.

If you are feeling like the jilted fiancee who was promised gold and diamonds but received tin and glass , contact us for an honest, upfront solution.

Edina Gardos


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