To Template or Not?
Choosing whether to use a website template can be a little controversial. Some website designers believe themselves to be purists and think using other peoples templates makes for a bloated website that can be difficult to maintain. Personally, I believe one of the main reasons for the introduction of CSS was to allow artistic people to handle the visual design and for technical people to handle the implementation. Besides, there are templates and there are templates – some look amazing, some look err well not so good.
For the websites are designed I’ve chosen to use templates from http://www.templatemonster.com I am not an affiliate I do love their products. What I particularly like is that after my initial consultation with a client unable to choose a selection of web designs that I think offer a good starting point. This serves two purposes, first the client can visualise what I’m trying to describe and second using a template as a starting point saves a good number of hours which translates into cost savings for the client.
Traditionally this as being any real compromise but having used several of the templates from templatemonster.com I have found them to be of a very good quality and the layout is very meaningful and obvious. Sure there’s always one for improvement and I will write a second blog on one area that I think requires particular attention, namely, handling navigation for flash-based websites for users that don’t have Flash installed.
These templates offer some nice visual effects and an enhanced user experience without much work required from the web designer. Nearly all of these, use Flash for the site navigation and this could be improved by allowing the page names and the button labels to be controlled via an external XML file rather than requiring a copy of Adobe Flash in order to rename pages. Whilst this is possibly just me being a little picky, I believe, this really would add value to anyone who doesn’t own a copy of Adobe Flash.
Similarly, the templates that I have used have only had a very basic text message for when Flash is not installed. For my sites I have now amended the background CSS to allow the navigation from the non-Flash version of the website to be substituted when Flash is not installed. I’ll be writing another blog post to cover how I did that for anybody that interested.
Seperate Content from Design
One thing I particularly like about the templates I have used is that the styles.CSS has been separated from the layout so that pages are laid out in one file and the visual theme is handled in another. Maybe I’m just overly organised but I particularly like this feature. I’m not a big fan of the default page names used (because my work doing a SEO has led me to believe that the page name plays a huge part in improving your Google ranking). The first thing I do is to rename my pages; however this is pretty easy as I use Adobe Dreamweaver and it handles fixing all of my links. However, when using flash-based menus you still need to update the Flash file to point to the new page names, as I said before using an external XML file would make it much easier.
To wrap up, I really enjoy using the templates from template monster.com and would recommend them to anybody. The quality of the background CSS, the images, the layout and the overall look and feel are always of a high standard. For the price, choice and quality you can’t go wrong.
Pop over and take a look http://www.templatemonster.com