You do not have to be an expert designer or developer to create a professional website, thanks to readymade website templates you can now make proper websites with little or no prior knowledge of web design. As you embark on your journey of building an excellent website with templates, your first challenge is: which template should I choose?
There are so many options that the task of selecting the best template can be overwhelming, especially if you are a beginner. Here are some tips that should help you to select the best match for you.
1. Know what type of website you’re building.
The first and most obvious consideration in selecting your first template is you must be very clear on the type of website that you want to build. You may be surprised that this tip made the list, because it is a given: no one builds a site without knowing what they and their customers want. However, there are so many wonderful, stand-out templates out there that if you are a newbie developing a website for your product, it can be difficult not to be tempted to select a sexy theme for its visually appealing design, instead of a theme that is appropriate for your site.
Every website has its own peculiarities, its own specificity. An e-commerce site cannot be constructed in the mold of a personal blog, no matter how pleasing and simple a personal blog might appear. Understanding the features of your web site is therefore the first and most important, but often ignored part of selecting a proper template.
2. Consider all costs and don’t compromise pay for quality.
There are no shortages of templates in the market: free vs. paid, custom vs. premium and many more. There are several things to consider and cost is understandably a major concern for many. Understand that it is not just your money that you are investing, you are investing your time and effort as well. Ask yourself this: would I rather spend my time and effort customizing my website or would my time be better spent working more on my product? In the latter case, you should look for off-the-shelf templates, these templates may be more expensive but will greatly reduce the amount of time you need to spend creating your websites.
While it is tempting to go for free templates to cut costs, this can be counter-productive. Free templates often come with a lot of problems in the form of poor quality and can lack technical support among other issues. Paid templates generally provide excellent support and are usually coded by expert developers. These templates can also help you to spend less time creating your website, time that you can spend focusing on your product.
This doesn’t mean you should never consider free templates: there are plenty of excellent templates that you can get without paying. However, you should not compromise quality for short term benefits. If you have to pay money, do it wisely and remember that you are investing your time and effort, as well as your money.
3. Take your time.
You may be very excited to launch your website; you might just grab a template and start your site immediately. While this approach will help you launch your site, remember that making it successful is a completely different matter. Choosing a poor template and “adding things gradually” is harder than you might imagine. When your website gains traction and you need to respond to things quickly, the basic template you chose initially may not prove optimal or even effective, in such cases you might even have to start over again.
So, do not rush things in the hope of doing things quickly, take your time, be patient and do research on which template best suits you now and which will serve your purpose in future.
4. Look for flexibility and customization options.
You will need to tweak your template in some way in order to bring a personalized feel to your website. Depending on templates only, without much of your own original input, will never make your website stand out among thousands of site competitors using the same template. It is with this in mind that template developers provide options for customization. Some provide users with countless customization options, while others do not allow you many options to change specific elements of your website.
If you are not much of a developer, you may feel that more flexibility makes website building more complicated and may choose to select limited customization options instead. However, you need to keep an eye on the future. In the long run, you may need to add non-default elements to your site and only flexible customization options will make it possible to do so.
5. Always choose responsive.
This is a no-brainer. If your site is not responsive, your site is outdated. Responsive templates make it possible to adjust the layout of your sites across different screen sizes and devices.
A remarkable portion of web traffic is generated from mobile and other hand-held devices. Cell phones are now commonly used to surf the internet and this trend will only increase. You need to tap into this market. It doesn’t matter which demographic or niche your website caters to, whether it is e-commerce or a news feed website, if you do not make your website available to handheld devices this is always going to hurt your business.
There was a time in the past, when responsive design was optional, however times have changed, and most templates today reflect change-providing responsive, mobile-ready themes. However, there are still some templates that do not provide mobile-friendly layouts. Make sure you stay away from these aberrations.
6. Know your template provider and customer support.
Countless developers are now offering their templates on the internet. Not every template is wonderfully written or performs robustly. A poorly-written template will only create more problems and will not help you build your site. So, whether you pay for a template or get it for free, make sure you get your template from a reputable, trustworthy supplier.
Investigate how highly rated the supplier is and read testimonials from previous buyers to help you make your decision. Customer support is another important consideration for selecting a template supplier. Even the best written templates can have flaws and if you ever come across one, your supplier must make it a priority to fix the issue.
7. Strive for SEO friendly templates.
You definitely want your website to reach out to more people, and you can’t do that without effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Although you may be able to build a visually stunning website with excellent content you will need to use SEO techniques to get your page ranked better in search engines. Use designs that are not just beautiful but provide a solid hierarchy and easy navigation. Furthermore, avoid changing your template in every category. The more templates you use in your site, the more difficult it is for users to navigate to your site.
Some templates with excellent design can still be poorly written from the point of view of SEO, so make sure you get SEO friendly templates. Clumsily coded templates that take longer to load will directly affect your ranking. Search engines like Google have clearly mentioned that extra time to load pages will contribute to ranking, therefore choose an efficiently written template.
Even if templates are optimized for search engines you need to have ample knowledge on the subject, as your content is going to play an equally important role.
Featured photo credit: Benjamin Child via images.unsplash.com