Although templates have given the average person the ability to design his or her own website with relative ease, being able to plug information and graphics into a template does not technically qualify as design or site development. When all you do is upload words and pictures into sections that can accept only predetermined types of content, you’re limited in the ways you can present your information.
If you’re a web designer, you want the best for your clients. That means you have to be able to create a design that’s specifically tailored to your customers’ needs.
Some clients can’t afford a custom design, however, and you’ll have to settle for a template. Happily, a template can provide the foundation for success, even for sales pages. Here’s how to make that happen:
Don’t rule out templates
Some professional website designers discourage their clients from using templates because a template is unlikely to meet the particular needs of a given business. For example, if a website template features a slider at the top of the home page, you can’t necessarily delete it if you’d prefer not to include a slider there.
What most companies do in a case like this is to fill up the slider with random content, then do the same for all the other predetermined areas of the template. They upload stock photos where the template calls for photos, even if that wouldn’t reflect their marketing strategy.
In essence, the client willingly sacrifices the quality of the site for the sake of saving money.
Not all templates are static
There are templates that feature a dynamic environment; they allow you to add, remove, and reposition elements around the page. Wix templates are one example of this dynamic potential.
Wix is a content management system that provides a high level of design freedom which can turn templates into unique websites. The templates are designed in HTML5, and the platform has a drag-and-drop editor that gives the user immense freedom in how the page may be designed.
The platform also uses what the firm calls “Artificial Design Intelligence” that can generate a custom website based on the answers to specific questions.
If your client insists on using a template, that’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean your client doesn’t value your design skills. Some companies just don’t have the cash to design from scratch. But that doesn’t have to limit the project.
Customize the most vital regions of the template
For a template to be successful, you have to be able to customize the most essential areas of each page. These may include the style sheet, header, sidebar, footer, and the general layout of the content in the main section of the page.
You might want to think about this ahead of time and make a list of “deal breakers.” For instance, if you need to create a sales page that doesn’t display the site’s main header, only employ a template that allows you to remove the header from individual pages.
In fact, most templates that run on a dynamic platform will allow you to remove any element from the individual pages.
Choose a template designed by a professional
Not all website templates are created casually by amateurs. Not a few are built by professional designers.
If you haven’t created your own templates for client projects, it’s not difficult to find someone who has. A look at the reviews posted for the elite authors on Theme Forest is all the validation you need. The difference in quality is fairly obvious.
Professional designers have mastered the art of incorporating some of the most essential elements of solid design into their templates: white space, simple navigation, room for the call to action, and an efficient footer.
Customize the typography
Not all designers have mastered typography, though. Typography is a separate art, and it’s more practical than aesthetic.
When designers build templates, they often use elements of typography that don’t do justice to the rest of the design. Sometimes the font size is too small or it’s an awkward font that distracts from one’s ability to see the template’s rich potential.
Typography could make or break the message you’re trying to communicate to your visitors. The 2017 Academy Awards demonstrated this in an embarrassing way.
During the announcement for the winner for “Best Picture,” the card given to the announcers was actually the one that named Emma Stone as “Best Actress.” Because the words “Best Actress” were at the bottom in small print, Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner.
The titles of “Best Picture” and “Best Actress” should have appeared at the top of each card in large print, rather than the Motion Picture Academy’s “Oscars” logo.
Give templates a chance
A template is only a framework. Knowing what to customize will give you the ability to design a truly custom site for your client … even if you start with a template.