Like so many other things that we write about, this one might rub some people the wrong way, but sometimes these discussions are warranted.
::deep breath:: Soooo, here we go:
We want scaling organizations to stop buying HubSpot Marketplace themes.
At the end of a long negotiation for HubSpot software, all any business wants to do is get migrated over to HubSpot’s marketing and automation tools as quickly as possible, especially if they’re paying for CMS Hub.
Many HubSpot reps and even some creative agencies send clients that have smaller budgets (or who have spent most of their budgets on their HubSpot contract) to the HubSpot Marketplace to browse new themes for their blog or website pitching it as a quick and easy way to get started. While for some businesses the HubSpot theme marketplace is a great way to save money with a boxed solution that can seemingly be implemented fairly easily; in reality, it’s not always a one-size-fits-all solution. Each business is unique.
For scaling organizations, they may run into issues with the HubSpot Marketplace themes that they purchase as they grow. While HubSpot template themes are a great way for the average small business to get onto HubSpot CMS and we never want to discourage a small business away from HubSpot, for scaling businesses HubSpot Marketplace themes may not be the way to go.
As an organization grows in its journey with Hubspot and on HubSpot CMS, they often come to us looking to have us modify or fix their theme. We’ve seen many different types of issues with HubSpot marketplace templates - issues with how their logo appears, formatting issues, implementation, page speed and optimization issues - you name it, we’ve encountered a frustrated business that thought they could just buy a plug and play theme and didn’t quite get what they wanted.
Here are a few reasons that we think you should think twice as a growing organization before you buy a HubSpot marketplace theme, how to approach it if you are a business that does have to purchase a boxed template HubSpot theme, and a suggestion that we think might give you the best compromise between a totally custom website overhaul and a boxed theme that may not suit your needs.
Looks aren’t everything.
HubSpot has a really amazing, thorough process for ensuring that only quality HubSpot templates are submitted on their marketplace. They require thorough documentation, screenshots, live proof of concept and support. In theory, this is a great way to provide accessible websites that work on HubSpot CMS. In reality, these themes are sometimes coded in a way that doesn’t suit your growing business as you scale or needs to be customized, integrated and better organized to suit your marketing content and the unique journey of your buyer.
Any number of things could be hidden behind a HubSpot theme that you purchase, including: poor back end user interface, a lagging, slow website and sometimes? A really dissatisfied customer whose HubSpot launch is now delayed until they can find someone to fix their theme, often for more than they originally paid. It’s not always a hard time, but even just small fixes can sometimes be cumbersome for a new developer to implement if the foundation isn’t set up the right way.
Looks matter, but what’s the use in having a theme that looks pretty in demo, but isn’t actually functioning for your needs?
“We’ll get by with a template for now, then we’ll develop a custom site later on.”
Initial HubSpot contract layouts can leave a business’ marketing or development budget depleted. In so many cases, organizations are compromising on their development - but at what expense? A clunky interface that isn’t intuitive can impact an employee’s productivity and overall happiness.
A poor back end user interface means that your employees simply cannot operate efficiently. And when they can’t post content efficiently or are constantly running into roadblocks in their everyday tasks, it can be wearing on them and a huge time suck. According to The CFO, an online business publication, inefficient processes waste nearly a third of employees time. And with job unhappiness at an all time high as of August 2022, according to CNBC, companies should be doing everything they can to make sure their employees are productive, happy and able to effectively get the job done.
Why? Happy workers are 13% more productive, according to Oxford University.
When you’re considering your HubSpot budget, you need to consider not only which Hubs you’ll need, how to secure them at the best value, but how you can situate your company to be most successful inside HubSpot by choosing a framework or theme that truly suits your needs.
You have little ability to customize.
Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? The top complaint we receive when we get clients that are already working inside HubSpot is — I wish I would’ve known. They wish they would’ve looked closer at their data needs, they wish they would’ve bought the right tiers from the outset, they wish they wouldn’t have wasted money with an inexperienced, order-taker developer and they wish they would’ve gotten set up the right way from the start.
The HubSpot Marketplace Themes, whether they’re free or paid, lock you into either using that development agency for your improvements or will eventually require you to pay someone that is going to take longer to accomplish your goals, because they’re working in someone else’s code foundation. In the world of HubSpot Development, there are many ways to build the same framework, and because there’s a lacking centralized knowledge base for HubSpot developers right now (we hope that’s not always the case), it’s a bit Wild West out there sometimes.
Trying to customize an existing template can break functionality and will usually require a bit of an investment for another HubSpot CMS developer to familiarize themselves with how everything has been set up and go poking around before they make your improvements.
Ideally, you’ll vet the company offering the template from the start, question them about their expertise and make sure they’re a fit to work with long term and use your theme as a framework to build on. Just make sure that your framework actually has a stable foundation and can accommodate your needs as you grow.
If you already purchased a HubSpot Marketplace Theme, there’s no need to go out and spend thousands on a new website (yet). But as you grow, you may find that it’s not working as well for you. Odds are good that you can work with the company that developed the theme to customize it to suit your needs. Even if not, there are always ways to work around the infrastructure that you have while you make plans to redesign your site and build a new custom HubSpot framework that will better suit your needs.
What’s most important is finding the right development and technical partner. One that will look at your processes from front to back and really dig into what your needs are and how your HubSpot framework, your data architecture and the processes you’ve put in place will work for your organization in the long term. Ideally, that partner will grow with you in a long term relationship as you scale and continue to improve your marketing and brand over time.
Most often, what we find is that customized design inside a tried and true framework built with the bones you need to grow is the best solution for a business starting out on HubSpot CMS that isn’t quite ready to go all in on a custom build.