When I began designing websites six years ago, the market was strong and new businesses appeared to emerge overnight. Entrepreneurs were comfortable placing money into the startup phase, and most wanted unique websites designed.
At the same time, WordPress, one of today’s most popular content management systems (CMS) was not as prolific. In fact, at that time I did not use WordPress as a way to develop a website; today, most of my websites have wordpress as a backend so the customer can easily make changes.
Now entrepreneurs are a little more cautious about starting up. Money is tighter for those starting a company as well as for the business’s potential clientele. In an effort to save some money, business people are asking what they might do to cut down costs.
In terms of website design, I have a lot more jobs that deal wtih modifying templates than that do creating a unique site for scratch, and the majority of my clients want a CMS backend, whether it is WordPress, Joomla, or another platform, so they can easily change content and images once the site is up and running.
Utilizing a template rather than having a site designed from scratch is attractive to many of the people I work with for a few reasons, including:
I am working with a chef on her website and cookbook now, and when we first started the process she wasn’t very familiar with the online world. She wanted a website within a reasonable price, and she wanted to know what she might need to consider starting off. I suggested a template. She was scared her site might resemble everyone else’s if she went this route, but as we talked I shared with her my feelings about templates. In today’s post I’ll do the same for you.
Freedom of Design
When talking about building a website within WordPress, which is what she wanted to do (as do many of my clients now), there are as many options for the way it can look as there are for a traditional website. Some want their sites to resemble a ‘regular’ website, at least on the front page, even if they have a blog attached. Others like the traditional, two-to-three column blog look throughout. Regardless of how you want it to appear visually, a template can be used to reduce the cost of creating the site while still creating a ‘unique’ look to the site.
How do you do this? First, find the template that functions as you want, whether by calling certain information to certain categories, showcasing the most recent posts in all categories on the front page, or highlighting items for sale or ad spaces. The less a designer has to do to get the site working the way you want it to work, the lower the cost. Working with a reputable designer to find the perfect template will help, too; a good designer can lead you to the best templates suitable for your needs. They often have premium templates available for a lower cost to you as well, which means you’ll get the perks of a template, which I’ll talk about in a moment, without having to pay the premium price.
Next, ask the designer, after finding the correct template, to create a mockup design for you in Photoshop so you can see what the site will look like upon completion. Some designers prefer to upload the template/theme on their own server and work live, showing you options as they code (this is what I do for template sites). This is great because you can see it as it gets put together. You are able to click on the link, suggest changes, and help develop the site from the outside. When using a template, it is often easier to work live than to create a mockup.
In looking at the benefits of using a template, cost is a large one. A work at home mother is often stretched on time and money. A template is going to save money because the designer doesn’t have to code from scratch. The bones are there. The template is going to function a certain way. Off the bat, this saves quite a bit of time. If you figure most designers charge anywhere from $45-$65 and up per hour, and you cut the hourly wage in half by using a template, you are saving quite a bit of money.
Some templates are free and can be found by doing a google search for templates. Others do cost money. As I mentioned above, a good designer will have an array of templates available for your particular needs. This might be an ecommerce set up, a dynamic front page that calls up the latest posts in a variety of subjects, a slideshow that incorporates the latest posts along with images on the front page, or ad space built into the template to sell items on the site. If a designer had to code all of this from scratch, it would take some time and cost you a lot of money. If you could find the bones of a template, one that functioned in the way you wanted and had a similar layout to your desired site, this would save money.
Many templates today, particularly those that are premium templates, offer great perks, such as search engine optimization. This saves you time in the long run because the site is already enhanced for search engines. Plug ins can also be added to help with this. Also, many premium templates offer support (and the designer, if she has access to these premium templates, can find support as needed for questions that might arise). Some of the better templates offer automatic updates to your website, so you don’t have to worry as much about staying up to date if you are running a program like WordPress as your back end.
As a designer, if a client would benefit from a template over a static site, meaning they had less money and could find the functionality they wanted through the use of a template, I would encourage the use of one. Changes can always be made to the template when more money is coming in, or a unique design could be created if business picked up and there were things the client desired that the template didn’t offer.