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What is a Website Template?
Many smart and savvy businesses are choosing to use a website template, and avoiding employing a professional designer. Why? Well, there are clear benefits: saving on cost, saving on time, and ensuring quality.
Web templates close the gap between the amateur website owner learning to create his/her own website, and a one-off custom design.
What is a website template? A web template is a ready-made design for your website, including images, some navigation, preferably several sample pages and in some cases Flash animation. However, it has no content related to you or your business - that must come from you! Remember that a web template must be customized / modified (to whatever degree you are comfortable with) to turn it into your very own website.
What about hiring a website designer, or using a quick-and-easy tool to build your own website?
The answer to this question is easy - your, and your business', professional image. There is no other way to say this - if you do not have appropriate web / Internet design experience, don't put together a quick and dirty website and expect it to be a professional portrayal of you / your business!
So then do you have to spend a lot of money having a website custom designed for you? Well, you could. But you no longer need to!
A low-cost, but professional design
While selecting a ready-made web design template, you will probably browse through a collection of different website designs until you find one (or a few) that you like.
Expect to be able to at least see a screen capture of what your web page will look like, and hopefully a "see-in-action"- which lets you see exactly what you will be getting.
Choose your template carefully, and you will have a professional design, executed by a qualified designer with all due attention to accessibility, standards compliance, browser quirks and a lot of other things that you would not want to have to learn about from scratch, yourself! All for a fraction of the cost of hiring a custom website designer or design firm.
Avoid the common mistakes made when choosing a website template
Don't assume that every last thing within the template can be changed, easily. Of course anything can be changed if you have graphics knowledge, but for the novice, if you're unsure whether a particular graphic used can be easily replaced by your own image, ask the template designer! This is why it is best to choose a template store where the template designer provides personal support for his / her designs.
Sometimes one or more elements of the template design are intrinsic parts of the template, and cannot just be "swapped out" without technical knowledge. Good, professional template designers will offer a customization service to perform this kind of function for you.
What a template is - and isn't
The website template you have chosen is a look-and-feel for your site. Some high-end templates have database back-ends and so on built in, but straightforward website templates are generally a "shell" for your website. Adding the content which is specific to your website, and "making it your own", involves editing the template. Fortunately, these days html / web editors are very easy to use, but be aware that you will need to do add content to the template to make into your website.
You will want to add your own text, set your meta tags (keywords and description), and possibly insert some product images into your product listing pages (if applicable).
Not the only one!
Most website templates are sold more than once - which technically means that you won't have the only website on the Internet that looks like yours. However, don't conider this a problem - with Google having over 8 billion sites (May 2005) in its inde, the chances of someone seeing another site that looks like yours are tiny. However, if you need a copyrighted design, ask the template designer about buying the template for exclusive use. This will increase the price though, and also depends on the template not having been sold before.
Web site templates are a cost-effective way to produce an attractive, professional website at a fraction of the cost of hiring your own web designer.
Julia Jackson is the owner of Xenon Web Services, specialising in website design and database design, as well as an online store of original, professional website templates.
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