Customizing Templates For Cost Effective Web Design

in Web Design

Website templates were once viewed as a boxy, one size fits all approach to building a website, They were simple to use, and the user didn't have to think about creating a professional looking site. All he had to do was edit the pictures and the text. I want to let you in on a dirty little secret. Web designers use templates! Not always but in many cases, you might think you're buying a custom designed site and really what you're getting is a customized template. Should you feel cheated?

Not necessarily.

However, we believe that the designer should be up-front about the design process. Template customization  can take a lot of the tedium out of building a website from scratch. A good designer probably already has a big picture idea of what the site should look like. Starting with a pre-designed template, the design can focus on the images, the message, the styles, etc. In most cases, everything about a template can be edited before it is installed.

So what is a designer looking for if a template is used? Mainly - navigation structure, colors (even though they can be changed), layout styles and the overall feel of the site. Very often, the template colors are changed to complement to company logo. The font styles may be edited to harden or soften the look. Ultimately, starting with a template can greatly shorten the design process by even as much as a couple of months! The website pictured (bottom right) was created in three weeks! The before image below represents the site before we were asked to come up with a new design.





We reviewed templates with the client and she fell in love with the template above (top of page). We purchased that very template from template monster, modified the colors and some of the font styles. As you can see, the final site is a little bolder, easier to read (darker text) and complements the clients logo. She is extremely happy and so are we!

Cost: This particular site wasn't hard to upgrade. We asked the client for a detailed profile of her business. We also were able to use content from the existing site. Using the template, existing client content and client business profile, we had enough to develop the entire site and shaved $2000 off the cost! We passed that cost off to the client. The client is applying this cost to web marketing - which at the end of the day is just as, if not more, important.

A couple of things to point out.

1. 50Bubbles is a web marketing company...we work with local graphic designers when custom design is necessary.

2. Maintain your existing Google results! Whenever you upgrade your website (changing navigation and URLS) you should make sure your designer has considered a redirect for every existing page to a page in the new site (special code is required). This insures that pages that are already indexed in the Google search engine will find a home in the new site. If you ignore this concept, Google searches may result in "Page 404 error: page not found". Ultimately this will be de-indexed from Google as a bad link and your site has to start from scratch. It's completely unnecessary and costly if you're already getting traffic from Google.