Monday, 1 July 2013

Selecting A Readymade Website Theme or Creating a Uniuque Theme

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Purpose of this article
When deciding to setup an online website, in the initial stage you are in the planning stage of the design, how the website should look and feel. You generally have couple of options, one of the questions is either hiring a graphics designer to design your website from scratch, bespoke according to your requirements, and the other option is where you purchase a ready made template online, and save costs on the design work.

So which option is best for you and your new business, should you go down the route of hiring a designer or purchasing a ready made template.

Hopefully in this article we will clear up so points and misconception on the above point.

What is Bespoke template?

Bespoke template is when a graphics designer designs a template from scratch without using any framework and templates to build from. The work is generally done as a sketch on a paper or a wireframe program, on which the main positioning and layout is sketched and put together, this gives an overall idea of how the website elements will be positioned, such as where the navigation will be across the top, or the right. Once the overall concept is understood from the wireframe and sketch, the designer would then work on bringing this template to life by using a designing program such as Adobe Photoshop / Adobe illustrator and many others.

Using a design program, the website would be given detailed features, colour and be made to look and feel like a website, but only its still an image.

Once you approve the image, the designer would then convert this image (PSD to HTML) into template for your business, based on how you would be developing your website, such as a standard HTML or a open source CMS (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento).

What is ready made templates

Ready made templates are website designs that other designers have done already and put on the market for others to purchase. Its available to the public, and whoever desires the template by purchase it. At times you are offered an option to purchase an exclusive licence which will then remove the template from the market for others to purchase, making it exclusive for you (this generally has a larger cost attached to it - you are better off designing your own from scratch).
You can generally purchase website layouts from:
plus many others on the web.

Depending on how you will be building your website and on what platform such as Joomla, Wordpress, Magento, you will generally notice that you can easily get a ready made template for these platforms which are ready to be installed, something like plug and play.

Cons of a ready made template?

With a ready made template, you are basically skipping the process described above, so you save on the design costs of a website, and you move straight to the development stage, unless you have some CSS styles and colors to change on the template, which would not take you as along as designing a whole site from scratch. The template has already been designed to match certain industry styles and to mirror certain websites concepts such as a traditional blog, or a news site or a portfolio.

With most ready made templates, you do have a certain amount of freedom in terms of selecting your own colors and updating the style sheets to meet your taste, but its within limits. It is very unlikely that you would be able change everything on the templates styles.

Cons of a bespoke template

The main point it all boils down to is cost. If you are on a tight budget than its a sensible option to skip the design stage or to shorten the design stage by purchasing a ready made template. At times it may also not be cost factor, on the other hand if you are on a tight deadline and need to get your new website up and running in a short period of time. You could bypass the design stage by purchasing a good template.

Pro of a bespoke template

The main factor is that you get to design it to your taste, its just like building your house from scratch, you can put up walls where you like and select what styles and colors go onto each wall. If you are someone that is very picky and you don't want to go with something that’s already on the market, than going down the route of a bespoke design would be a better choice for you.

Pros of a ready made template

The best thing I love about ready made templates, you can get your site up quick, you dont have to spend hours designing, as said if you're racing against time, and want something up live for visitors to see, its a good option.

Depending on where you generally purchase you template it from, if there is a good community you can easily get help and support on issues that you may struggle with when installing a ready made theme.

Best of all they don't cost much, for about $50 - $100 you can pick up a very good layout ready to use and install.

Cons of a ready made template

Ready Made Website TemplatesNow you may not always find what you are looking for, as they are designed generally, and may not match with what you are looking to portray (even though you have a vast collection of templates to select from), in which case you will have to resort to designing your own template, which is great, it will make your project unique and stand out. You also need to be careful where you purchase the templates from, the two website links mentioned above are reliable sources which you can trust. If you purchase a template from a non reliable place you may end up with corrupt files, and even the risk of virus and hacking.

Finally the layout that you purchase is not really unique, it's available for everyone. Nothing will stop your competitors to purchase the exact same layout and duplicate what you have, not saying they can not do that with a unique template - its possible there also, but its much easier with ready made themes, as you just have to purchase and install.

Conclusion - What do i need for my business?

It’s a tough decision in selecting which path to go down, as especially for those startup business where you want something unique and special to stand out from the crowd but also want to keep the cost low, as cash flow can be limited in the early days.

I personally am all for designing a template from scratch as that’s what i enjoy, but on the other hand If I was conscious of costs and time I would definitely go down the route of purchasing a ready made template. Which is what I did for my wifes website - the old site was built on basic HTML, which was getting outdated, needed something simple, and quick, and she was not realy fussed on how it looks as long as it does the job. So why spend hours on designing something when you can puy couple of dollars spend an hour customizing it and its live to go.

Bottom line, do what’s best for you and your business.

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