A cynical person may deride the use of templates in web design, declaring them to be a threat to originality and creativity. They may also write templates off as “cheating”, allowing users to rustle up something quickly at the expense of thinking more critically about their design. However, those arguments are, in a word, rubbish. Templates may provide a theme or a structure, but they are useless if they are filled with the wrong images, text or colors. It takes a certain kind of skill to make the most of a template, particularly when it comes to designing flyers or websites.
What is a template?
Templates are essentially a framework that can be filled with the user’s information and images. The layout may be preordained, there may be specific sections for text and images, and there may be a theme that ties the template together. Some of those elements may be customizable, while others may be fixed.
While many people may back their ability to rustle up a poster without any guidance, designing your own website from scratch is a more daunting prospect. Website templates allow users to add their information into a framework already programmed in HTML or CSS. Within that template, there may still be fixed sections for text and images, as well as a rigid process for navigating the site.
While those fixed elements may have their drawbacks, what is customizable can be changed easily at the user’s whim. If they decide to alter a font or an image, this can be done easily through the template. Individual bloggers or small businesses may not be able to pay for the expertise required to completely create a website, so web templates allow people to produce a site that is professional, intuitive and fulfils its purpose.
What isn’t a template?
To use a slightly clunky house-building metaphor, the template is the foundations, the framing and even the walls. However, that shell of a house still needs filling with practical and tasteful furniture. The template itself may be strong, but people are going to predominantly remember what goes inside it.
A template should provide a starting point, but it doesn’t produce a professional product on its own. Using inconsistent fonts, a clashing color scheme or boring stock images could undermine the effectiveness of the template. Make sure that your personality, or your business’ ethos, is clearly evident in the final product – if not, it may be that you haven’t chosen the most suitable template for the task.
Types of templates
Whether designing a product to be replicated physically or designing a webpage, there are always going to be templates available. Ignore anyone who says that templates are cheating, as each of these templates simply makes it easier for users to express their creativity.
Commissioning a designer to produce flyers can be time-consuming and expensive, but the existence of templates from places like HelloPrint makes this a job that anyone can perform. HelloPrint is an excellent example of this, as they cover a range of services from business cards and advertising boards to tote bag printing and cheap leaflet printing. There are several free flyer templates for your business on HelloPrint’s blog, so you can choose the perfect design before you get underway with any flyer printing. Flyers are supposed to be both eye catching and informative, so using a template can help to stop you from neglecting either images or text. The words will still be yours, while you may want to import images from preexisting material. Many flyers may come from the same template, but the chance to customize the layout and add your own content means that each flyer looks distinctive. Depending on your business needs, the theme and content of that flyer design could then be translated into another form, such as business stationery or custom banners.
There are lots of blogs out there; Statista figures suggest that there will be 31.7 million bloggers in the US alone by 2020, so it’s no surprise that the odd blog or two may look the same. Blogs are almost exclusively judged on the originality of their content, so there are worse things in the world than multiple blogs adopting the same WordPress theme in the same way.
While WordPress themes may have homogenized the blogosphere to an extent, they give a professional platform from which people can express their thoughts. Even then, WordPress templates still allow a reasonable degree of customization. Among other things, users can choose their color schemes, fonts, menus and homepage layouts. Given that most bloggers are casual and merely doing it for fun, the use of templates makes total sense.
The power of templates has enabled more people to start up their own e-commerce operations. Anyone who has been able to fulfill their business dream thanks to template sites is living proof that using templates isn’t cheating. Bigcommerce is one such template site, with a range of free themes on offer for users. Features that would be quite hard to program from scratch, such as shopping carts and search filters, are ready to go as part of these themes.
The ability to manage an entire website through an intuitive content management system has enabled people to set up businesses that would have seemed inconceivable just five or ten years ago. Shopify is another popular template provider for e-commerce sites and, as with Bigcommerce, gives users a wide range of customizable options. The availability of templates means that it saves time and money when starting up a new business.
Ignore the criticism
“Templates are an easy way out” – Sometimes it’s okay to take the easy way out! Templates can allow people with limited web design skills to produce output that looks professional and attractive, without worrying about coding.
“Templates are only for novices” – While templates can be particularly useful for newbies to the web design world, they can also be extremely useful for veteran designers. If a template helps a designer get started or is legitimately the best form of design available, then there’s no reason not to use it.
“Everything from a template will look the same” – Some level of homogeneity may be unavoidable, but it will be your unique content that will make the site or product stand out.
A template is a great way to produce something that looks professional and eye catching. It’s certainly not cheating if a template gives you more time and money to focus on your blog or business, rather than battling with the more difficult task of designing something from scratch.