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Are templates cheating?

Sometimes people talk about templates as if they are cheating, inferior and inappropriate as a business tool.

A blank page can be hard to fill

I don’t agree – there are times a template is not the right answer but they can be very useful in business.

Using a template doesn’t mean everything is exactly the same  – adjustments are made to suit the purpose.

Templates for letters, emails, style guides, procedures, web pages and other business materials can help your business in three key ways.

  1. Consistency
    If every letter sent from your business has the same format, it looks professional, builds your brand and shows attention to detail
  2. Time saving
    Using a template saves a lot of time. An email or webpage template can reduce the time needed for formatting, setting meta data and remembering the necessary details (phone, ABN, disclaimer, etc), and so on.
  3. Getting started
    A template can provide a starting point and can be much easier to work from than a blank page – this saves mental energy and time. If you don’t know where to start with preparing a style for your business, a corporate style guide template can get you started and inspire you to ask the right questions

I think templates are suitable for many things (e.g. procedures and standard information) although they can be misused and abused.

What templates do you use (or have you used) in your business? What advantages do you get from them?

15 Responses to Are templates cheating?

  • Randomhero says:

    I myself use a lot of templates in my business and even on my website. The main reason is because of the time saving. I could try to make it myself and spend hours upon hours. Or I can find a template that isnt overly used and spend those hours looking for quality clients/customers. Each person has their own preference though.

    • tashword says:

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Randomhero. I think templates can save a lot of time and are great for many situations – I think it’s the template no one amends that really look a bit cheap and nasty.

  • UmiNoor says:

    Using a template will also mean that you don’t miss out on any important items that needed to be included in the communication. I’ve used templates even when I’m writing articles for websites. It really makes writing an easier task instead of something that is formidable and challenging to undertake. A writing template is especially useful for new writers who have no idea how to start writing. It’s not cheating at all.

    • tashword says:

      That’s a good point, UmiNoor – beginners can learn a lot from using templates.

      • onlinebusinessgal says:

        UmiNoor, you have made an excellent point. A template that you use will make it less likely that you will forget to include something of importance in a communication with your customers. I also agree that this should not be looked on as cheating in any way.

  • nakita says:

    Templates are great to use because there is a lot of “proven to work” things that work. By copying them it allows us to “duplicate” that professionalism and make it work. I don’t want to say that it makes us successful because that solely depends on the person/business.

  • onlinebusinessgal says:

    I do not feel as if templates are cheating as long as you are creating your own templates and not copying from another business owner or writer. There are times when you do want to be sending out communications with the same format and appearance.

    • tashword says:

      Hmm, copying others’ templates is definitely cheating and not good business practice. Consistency is a very good reason for templates, though 🙂

  • Anna T says:

    I use templates all the time and don’t think of it as cheating at all. For example, I am not very tech savvy and I can’t do things like design web pages. If it were not for pre-made blog templates and WordPress themes, I would not be able to have my blog set up the way I want.

    Sometimes though I do wish that I knew how to design templates because while they help, they often do limit you in other ways.

    • tashword says:

      It’s true that templates can be limiting as well as saving us time – the ideal is when we can adjust the template to suit but that isn’t always possible, as you pointed out, Anna.

  • KennyK says:

    Templates give you the chance to streamline your work and save a lot of time. It’s not cheating, it’s just a way to structure things and to get going fast. Of course you can tweak templates for a specific purpose, good templates are flexible.

    I like the example of website templates and blog templates. It gets you going very fast, saves you time, and gives you the opportunity to build something without having to start from scratch all the time.

    • tashword says:

      I find it strange that some people scream about saving time yet won’t use templates for anything. As you said, Kenny, templates used properly can streamline your work and give you structure.

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