Web Design Templates Used To Have a Bad Rep

The mere mention of web design templates used to elicit much derision and “pffft” sounds from fellow Vancouver web design companies and those who could discern a well designed website from cookie-cutter garbage. Much has changed since web templates first came out.  Nowadays, there is quite a bit to choose from.

The only real downside of using a template is that the person making the purchase may not know how to customize it to make it look unique. Because of this, they’ll wind up with a website that looks good but that is being used by thousands of businesses with the same out-of-the-box look and feel. If you are on a budget, and frankly, even if you are not, a good template coupled with a good web designer who knows how to code and tweak code, can get you a very nice website indeed for a third the cost of custom website design.

Won’t you lose business by recommending web templates?

I’m not recommending web design templates, I’m recommending select web design templates. People want value, whether they get it by purchasing cheap services that are badly realized or affordable services that are well realized. I’d like to see folks get the latter. A person purchasing a template will still need a designer to set it up, customize it to meet their requirements, tweak the CSS, insert the content, upload it to a server, and, they still may require other services such as SEO, social media marketing or content writing. So, no, I’m not really cutting myself out of the loop by recommending good pre-made websites.

How can I tell a good template from a bad template?

You might not be able to tell a good web design template from a bad one, but a web designer can. If you find a template, you’re likely going to need someone to set it up. Find a good freelance web designer and have them look under the hood. There are a couple of clues to bad template design:

  • The design is fixed width and doesn’t scale when you resize the browser window. Now not all fixed websites are bad, but really, in this day and age, a responsive template is a near must. In just a couple of years more web browsing will be done on a mobile device than on desktop.
  • The design is table-based HTML4. Table-based designs are dead and shouldn’t be resurrected. An HTML table-based design is a sure sign that the template is very, very old.
  • The code is not valid or close to valid HTML. Although sometimes web designers will break a few W3C guidelines (necessarily) to write code that works across platforms (particularly using HTML5), you don’t want to see egregious validation errors. You may not know a bad error when you see one, but a web designer does.
  • The design may be stolen and resold or even given away by some unscrupulous entrepreneur. They use the template as a loss-leader to sell other things, usually to gain clicks for ads they run. Make sure you know the seller is reputable.

Now on to the good web design templates.

Good web design templates

Here are a few good sources for modern, HTML5/CSS3 based responsive web design templates:

DreamTemplate.com “Pro Website Templates”20130921144524_1-224x300
The “Pro Website Templates” category at DreamTemplate has hundreds of responsive, HTML5/CSS templates to choose from. They come with pretty good features and have many configuration options from full-width pages, left sidebar or right sidebar options, gallery pages and more. These responsive templates also have many features frequently used on a typical website: sliders, portfolios, blog pages, contact forms, social media icons, JQuery menus and widgets like pricing tables. These widgets come from dCodes, a standardized library of lightweight CSS / JQuery shortcode libraries providing broad functionality.

DreamTemplate is a subscription service so if you want 1 web design template you have to purchase a $59.95 subscription which allows you to download and use 50 templates in a 1 year period. You can also purchase the template uniquely for exclusive use. I’d guess that rarely, if ever, is an exclusive purchase made. Cost for exclusive use is $3000-4000. DreamTemplate is mostly meant for web designers who can sell the templates at great rates to clients, customize them, and develop content for them. The designer gets a source of quality “frameworks” to build upon and the client gets great value.

Template Monster responsive templatesresponsive designed site
TemplateMonster has been selling web templates for as long as I’ve been a web dude. Although some of their fixed-width templates are run-of-the-mill, they’ve added many responsive HTML5 templates to their mix.

Template Monster doesn’t offer the options and flexibility of DreamTemplate templates but they are still nicely designed and coded using a responsive framework that allows the site to scale to mobile. A good thing! There aren’t as many page configuration options, but then again, most websites have a unique homepage and then inside pages have pretty much the same layout from page to page. The cost for a template is usually less than $100 and and the exclusive purchase options is priced similarly to DreamTemplate designs—a few thousand dollars.

aqua-web-design-templateThemeForest responsive web templates
ThemeForest is an excellent resource for static web templates and templates for popular web content management systems such as WordPress, Druplal and Joomla.

Their licensing description is gobbeldy-gook and confusing but the bottom-line is you can buy a non-exclusive-use template for use on one domain often for less than $50. Their WordPress templates are easy to install and somewhat easy to manage (for someone who is very familiar with WordPress) and their static responsive templates use shortcodes for various website widgets, similar to those offfered by DreamTemplate.

Need a web template?

There are more web design template resources out there, but these three offer reliable responsive frameworks and great features at an excellent price.

Unless you are a designer or coder, you’re still going to need someone who can peak under the hood, insert content, and provide on-page SEO. Websessive creates its own web templates which are pre-designed and ready for content though we’ve just begun doing so so there isn’t much to choose from. Templates are around $1200 are mobile-friendly responsive web designs and include a contact form, connection to social media accounts and customization and upload to your web hosts server. We also have add-on features such as WordPress themifying and social media marketing packages. If you don’t see something you like in our gallery contact us about sourcing a good template for your web design project. We’ll have you up and running at an affordable price in no time.

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