As the trend towards website templates continues to grow, one question – will the use of a template help or potentially hurt a synagogue – keeps popping up. Much of this surge is propelled by the use of free templates that come with a synagogue’s membership management system or movement affiliation. Many synagogues are drawn to using a template by the perceived savings in time, expense, and effort. And, when a website is being offered to you at no cost, the temptation grows even stronger. What could go wrong? But, the old adage – there is no such thing as a free lunch – holds true and whether a template is actually good for a synagogue remains debatable.
You can’t beat free.
It’s true. You don’t have to spend a dime when using a template provided to you by a service that you are already paying for.
You fill in the blanks.
Templates come with pre-determined layouts and all you have to do is enter your information. This simplicity makes a templated website an appealing option to a synagogue with limited resources and personnel.
You work at your own pace.
Templates allow you to work at your own speed and are in full control of the process. Such a set up may be especially useful if you are under a tight deadline.
The design is unoriginal
Your synagogue is unique. Why should you have the same website as a hundred other congregations?
Your website will never look as good as the example template.
Let’s be honest. Your website will not look as professional as the sample template shown on the developer’s website. Those examples always look so perfect and enticing, but we’ve yet to come across a site that looks as sharp as the sample. An exception to this scenario is when a volunteer or staff member with a background in marketing or website design takes the lead on updating the template.
Using a template is often like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
The flip side to filling in the blanks is that you are trying to cram your information into predetermined spaces. It’s very easy for the integrity of the original design to fall apart under such a scenario.
You are on your own.
When using a template, there is no one with professional experience to give your congregation guidance. It’s nice to work with someone who understands you, your needs, and how best to present your synagogue in an online environment. You have a great deal of information to share with their readers. Organizing this content can be a challenge. A website agency is there to guide you.
Templates present a weak first impression of your synagogue.
Here’s probably the biggest reason why templates are a bad idea for synagogues. Your website plays a critical role in your synagogue’s communication and marketing strategy. A great synagogue website inspires visitors to imagine themselves becoming a part of your congregation. It has the power to help your Jewish community grow and thrive. The opposite is also true. A subpar website turns off prospective members. Counteracting such a negative first impression is a big hurdle to overcome. Templated websites generally provide synagogues with an inferior look. The savings isn’t worth it. On the other hand, when you work with a website designer, you are paying for your congregation to look good online. This makes the investment in a custom website worth every penny. Your membership committee may be absolutely amazing, but a strong website is needed to help them achieve results.
By now, it’s probably obvious where we stand on whether or not a synagogue should use a template for their website. We firmly believe that all synagogues should have a strong website. In this day and age, a good website is no longer a luxury, it’s a must. We understand the reasoning behind using a website template, but we urge you to reconsider. And, there isn’t a need to worry about losing the benefits of a cloud-based database by not using the provided template. It’s possible to have a custom website and use ShulCloud at the same time – see how it’s done.
All synagogues deserve a great website and such a result cannot be achieved with a template. Your congregation deserves better.
Give us a call at 914-214-1032 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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