Designers sometimes get caught up in the minutia. Sure, details matter when it comes to design. But when you’re trying to explain something or give advice to a newbie, the details can be a little too much. In fact, the details can sometimes send people trying to build their very first websites running for the hills.
Choosing a website template is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your site. Whether you’re building a personal blog or an ecommerce store, the template dictates the foundation of how your site looks and functions. So yeah, pretty important.
We’re not going to get into a platform war here. No WordPress v. Drupal v Joomla v Static. No debates. Instead, here are just a few tried and true questions that you should ask yourself before you decide on a site template. What separates the good from the bad (and the good from the great).
Keep this checklist handy when evaluating any potential website templates:
Does it have appropriate features?
Does the site template do what you want or need it to do? It wouldn’t make sense to choose an ecommerce template if you don’t plan on creating an online store. Or choosing a template that features a large video at the top and you have no plans of including such a video.
The features should fit your site’s purpose. So if you’re in real estate, it might be a good idea to choose a real estate-specific template because it’s more likely to support MLS listings, for instance.
Is it right for your industry?
While certain businesses can get away with more of a generic corporate template, others require a specific look. A café might warrant a template with coffee-related details while a doctor’s office might have a clinical vibe.
Is the source reliable?
Anyone with some design chops can make a site template. That doesn’t mean it’ll be any good, however. Don’t just download a template from any old source. Instead, make sure it comes from a reputable place like Envato Market.
To skip this step is to put your site at risk for looking or performing poorly at best and for security breaches at worst.
Can the template support your content?
If you want to write daily posts about a topic, a template that includes a blog is a smart choice. If you think your site will have more static content, then a simple template with just a few page layouts ought to suffice.
Does it offer the level of customization you want?
There are so many templates out there on so many platforms you’re bound to find one that offers the level of customization you need.
Is the color scheme appropriate?
I’m talking about identity and brand here. If the template you choose doesn’t allow you to change its colors then you’ll need to ensure they fit with your company or personal brand.
Basically, don’t pick a blue-green template if your logo and marketing materials lack these colors.
Your needs from site to site may vary, but this list should help you identify the best template for your next project.
If you’re looking to learn what the key features you should be looking for when choosing a WordPress theme, rather than a web template, perhaps this article will help you:
Things to Consider When Choosing the Right WordPress Theme.