If you don’t want to deal with designers but you don’t want to design a website yourself either, there are plenty of websites that would just love to meet you. They sell templates, which are an easy way for anyone to buy an already-existing design and apply it to their website.
A quick search for ‘free website templates’ turns up a lot of offers. You have to realise, though, that almost any template you get for free is either going to be really very
amateurish – looking through the results, in fact, a lot of it is downright nasty. There will also probably be some annoying conditions of use, such as having to link back to the
designer’s web page from your page, or not being able to use the design commercially.
If you’re really determined to get a template for free, a better way of doing it is to use the ones that come for free with whatever software you’re using. WordPress, for example, has some very clean, attractive templates.
However you do it, though, you have to realise that free templates will never be unique: your website will look just like hundreds of other websites out there that found the same free template you did.
Once you start to get into the territory of paid-for templates, things start to look up. The idea behind sites that sell templates (templatemonster.com is the market-leader) is that they can pay designers a proper rate to do something good once, and then resell it as many times as they want for a relatively low price. This lets designers be paid for as many designs as they want without ever having to deal with customers, and it lets customers buy and use the designs for a much lower price than they’d usually pay for something a lot worse – and that they can’t see in advance.
Although the effect isn’t quite as bad as with free templates, you still have to understand that other people out there are going to have the same design as you. This can be a
problem, especially if you use one of the big template sites and pick the obvious design for the type of site you’re running. Used carefully, though, it can be one of the best ways to get a good-looking site up without breaking the bank.
After realising how much some people dislike other sites being able to use their design, many template sites started selling exclusive templates – ones that are only sold once, to one website, and then taken down. They found themselves with a runaway hit on their hands.
The reasons for this might not be immediately obvious, as buying exclusive rights to a template are often more expensive than just paying a designer to do it to begin with, and you get less say in what the site looks like.
If you ask me, the popularity of exclusive templates is down to removing the often-fraught relations between a web designer and the customer. Customers all too often come into the design process with all sorts of requirements and preconceptions, and designers will fail to understand what customers care about and what they don’t.
This way, designers are free to create something great, and customers can take it if they like it or look at hundreds of alternatives if they don’t. It takes all the uncertainty and
negotiation out at both ends, and leaves both the designer and the customer much happier than they would have been. Of course, if there is something small you want changed, most sites are happy to get the designer to do it for you for a small extra fee.
Putting Text in Templates
Once you’ve got a template, the only remaining step is to take your text and put it into the template. The designer might be able to help you with this, or you might prefer to add the template to whatever software you plan to use so that your content and navigation can be added automatically.