Like people, and like businesses, every website is different. Some are massive, like Wikipedia, containing unending millions of unique pages, while others are miniscule, like Georg Jenson’s online store, which uses minimalist media to sell the designer’s products.
Some websites are cluttered with ads and information; others are rigidly organized with plenty of white space. None of these websites are inherently right or wrong ? unless they fail to accomplish the owner’s goals. Then, even the most striking design is a total disaster.
Selecting a website template is more important than finding an eye-catching style. The following five questions will lead any Web developer ? regardless of design experience level ? straight to the perfect site template.
Do You Have a Budget?
As with most products and services, you get what you pay for with Web design. Though there are free website templates available around the Internet, most are low-quality and lack the functionality you need. Working templates can range in price from $10 to $400, but the average cost for a beautiful and practical template is around $60. You should strongly consider setting your Web design budget before you begin perusing your template options, as it is easy to overspend when you see what style and features the expensive templates offer.
What Is Your Website’s Goal?
Your website should have a specific purpose. Most often, websites are designed to make money, either directly (as with ecommerce sites) or indirectly (as with blogs that contain advertisements), but your website might have a different reason for existence. Your template absolutely must facilitate the completion of that goal.
It is entirely likely that your website will have more than one goal. For example, a corporate website aims to increase profits by connecting with potential new online customer bases, and a blog strives to build an audience by sharing valuable information that will attract paying advertisers and sponsors. An appropriate template incorporates all of a website’s goals to ensure complete success.
What Features Will You Need?
The goals for your website should also inform what features you and your visitors will need. For example, ecommerce sites must be easy to navigate, feature prominent photographs of their products, and have visible buttons to encourage sales. Conversely, a social website needs a way to find and interact with other Web users as well as a way to share and explore pictures, videos, and other media.
The best templates are flexible to allow the integration of various types of features, but plenty of templates only provide beautiful visuals without practical substance. Though you will be tempted to choose the template that is most visually appealing, you must consider the features you need first and foremost.
How Much Customization Do You Want?
If you expect to download your template, publish your website, and be done with the Web design process, you should also expect a shoddy, poorly performing website. Every template will require some degree of tinkering to conform to your needs and wants. However, the amount of customization you need should also inform which template you use.
Sometimes, lazy template designers anticipate customers with no skill in Web design, and as a result, they create templates that are clunky and rigid, offering no flexibility for your unique needs. Ratings and reviews from previous purchasers are helpful in determining which templates will bend to your website’s goals.
Are You Confident in the Template’s Provider?
Not all template providers are the same. Some sell you the template and disappear forever, while others provide hands-on service throughout your website design process. If you lack much experience publishing online, you will likely want to use a comprehensive website builder, which makes modifying templates quick and easy. Most website builders offer customer service, which can walk you through any problem you encounter as you design your digital dreams.
Bonus: Will Any of These Template Sites Help?
Now that you have an idea of what your website should look like, you can begin searching for a template that suits your needs. These websites offer some of the most organized, innovative, and aesthetically pleasing templates on the Web:
- Template Monster offers thousands of templates for various categories of website, types of pages, and styles of business.
- Theme Forest organizes its templates based on the coding language you want to work with.
- Wrap Bootstrap provides the bones for some vividly beautiful templates that you can customize to your exact specifications with HTML5 and CSS3.