Monday, January 10, 2011

To Template or Not To Template? That is the Question.

I hate templates.  I think they destroy brands.  They allow small business owners to unknowingly permit laziness and/or under-budgeted marketing efforts to fade their company into the background of advertising noise.  It undermines the value of true design, which is the solving of problems (yes, even aesthetic problems) and not merely the slathering of bright colors and sleek-looking stock photography.

OK, as usual, my blog post started off with a rant.  Sorry, but I'm in a conundrum.

Since the inception of AddressTwo we have not provided templates.  We have actually intentionally not provided templates for email marketing, not out of inability, but by design.  We do not want people to pick a template and send. 

But customers ask for it.  Often we have to explain why they're nowhere to be found on AddressTwo.  We have to constantly defend the position.  And, at the end of the day, I'm torn between encouraging our users to do what is best for them or simply meeting their demands (isn't that what good customer service is all about?) and publishing a template library.  After all, I could do it, right?

Dear customer,
If I offer you templates, will you promise me to use them sparingly?  Will you still at least think about getting a custom template?  Will you please use the stock template ONLY as a last resort, and a temporary solution?
Nick Carter

I want to know: am I off my rocker?  Should I get off my high horse and answer the customer demands?  I want to hear form you, customers.  Give me one good reason I should unlock this poison for your business?


  1. Hi Nick! Had to re-read your post twice to see if I could understand your real concern. To me a template is a pre formatted canvas and the user can then input their customized content. All websites tend to be formatted the same exact way and the difference is in the content. Right? I am not a lazy business owner and I do have a limited marketing budget so I am always looking for ways to streamline my efforts without diluting my brand. After selling media for over 25 years, truth be told there is a ton of templating going on in a variety of categories. What is your definition of custom?

  2. Susan. If templates were only spatial layout, fantastic. We already offer that. But many people want templates to be complete designs... just add text. That's the concern that I have. A "custom" design would simply be your spot colors (if you have any) and a custom-made banner. A designer ought to be able to develop a simple email template for $200 or less -- well within a small budget, I would think.