It is possible to build a better website but you must start way back at the beginning. A superior website is the result of careful planning, adherence to standards, and faithful obedience to site wide consistency.
It takes discipline to achieve -- but the payoffs are many: stronger search engine positioning, ability to serve new and often hidden markets, compliance with new regulations, a website that doesn't break as easily, and web pages that are much simpler to revise.
Common sense, really, but I discovered as a corporate web manager -- that things often have to be stated to become part of the group mentality (i.e. to make sure everyone is in the same game with you). A good template allows for incredible content flexibility.
Plus, a good template allows content to be created in a much more user friendly environment -- like Microsoft Word or Excel, then converted to HTML, and pasted into the web pages.
Menus, style sheets, and page/content elements should be tested to make sure they function properly in all browsers on both PC and Macintosh platforms, as well as a variety of wireless/mobile devices.
Not all pages on a site need to look identical. However, some recognizable elements should be shared, including logos, branding elements, and visual elements based upon logos and branding.
There should only be the minimal number of necessary buttons/links in the main menus pointing to the second-level pages. Keep the structure flat, but limit the number of menu items.
Second level pages should be accessed in a variety of ways and should be clearly labeled for and accessible to computer-assistive reading technologies.
The user interface for the website should incorporate interactivity as much as is possible without expensive programming, as long as provisions are made for users who have scripting turned off.
Links and style sheets
Each page must have text-only links to all other pages, required for accessibility. Style sheets can be used to make the text-based links attractive.
Forms and Shopping Carts
Forms should capture all data needed to ship/deliver to users, pass users through to secure download pages, track/evaluate purchases and purchasing patterns, and send messages to users by any electronic, voice, or physical means
Search engine optimization is enhanced by compliance with recent regulations, which mandate using page elements and code structures containing additional places for keywords.
All shopping carts and online forms must be designed to properly protect user identities and data from outside or illicit access, as dictated by recent regulations. However, data should be retrievable for evaluation and self-promotion.
Although a website may have a simple design and structure, it should contain a link-based site map -- a simple, hierarchical listthat will enhance search engine optimization, and aid persons with disabilities.
A website must comply with accessibility requirements of recent federal and state regulations. This also provides a number of additional places in the code to legitimately include keywords, which will enhance search engine optimization.