If you’re just starting out in your career as a web designer, you likely have a lot of work left to do before you have an established portfolio. After all, it’s hard to convince potential new customers that you have the talent and skills to create a website if you have no portfolio to show them. You’re caught between a rock and a hard place – you need clients to build a portfolio, and you need a portfolio to gain new clients. On the other end of the business is the solo web designer who has been successful for many years but finds that they can’t keep up with the demand. There’s only so many hours in a day and the unique challenges of designing web sites for other people can be very overwhelming.
What to do?
Web page templates offer a number of solutions which can help both new and experienced web designers alike. For those who don’t know, a web page template is a fully designed web page which contains blank elements that you fill in – such as title, content, etc. There was a time when web page templates were virtually non-existent, but once marketers began to see their potential, so did the demand from the public grow for them. These days you can find them everywhere, ranging from mere pennies to hundreds of dollars each.
The Originality Quandary…..
Now you might be thinking “But they’re not MY designs. There’s just something not right about it…..”. Well, yes, that’s a valid thought. The artist within you is protesting the use of something which was crafted by another designer. You might even feel like you’re violating your own creativity. Pride and ego are powerful forces indeed. But, you also have to remember that you are in business, and sometimes that means making decisions you don’t necessarily like to better the company.
There is another element to this as well – you must never let your own creativity become more important than fulfilling the needs of the customer. This is a huge mistake too many people make. For example, if you think the background should be red, and the customer wants it to be purple, it is something you must respect. While subtle persuasion sometimes works (and that’s another topic altogether), the point is that by focusing on the client’s wants and needs is more important than your ego. They don’t care if you used a template, and most won’t even know what it is anyway – but if they actually like it and want to use it, then why not?
So, just what can web page templates do for you?
1. Save Time
With web page templates, the actual design process is already done. All you need to do is customize it, add content and basically “fill in the blanks”. This is especially useful if you are very busy and want to speed up production when you have a large number of clients to juggle at one time. You may want to make this an option to all new potential clients.
2. Enhance & Build Your Portfolio
Whether you have no portfolio at all or have one bulging with samples of your work, adding templates is a great way to show people that you have the talent to give them what they want. This is particularly important to new web designers who usually have few samples to show clients. By using web page templates, you are building credibility and interest.
3. Providing More Options and Weeding Out Clients
Filling up your website with web page template designs gives potential customers a reason to stay and thus increases their interest in your services. Some people create entire directories of web page templates which clients may browse through to pick and choose which design they would like for their website. This way, they not only see samples of your completed work, they are presented with ideas and choices. This removes all the guesswork in trying to figure out what kind of design your client wants. And we all know how frustrating it can be building a site from scratch, then modifying this or that, tweaking here and there until the client is satisfied. Some clients seem to never be happy. To be blunt – offering templates is a good way to weed out the fussy ones.
4. So What If You’re No Picasso
Maybe you don’t have fancy graphic design skills or courses. Maybe your artistic ability extends no further than drawing a circle which looks more like a depressed square. No problem. With web page templates, most of the work is done for you and the majority of your customers are going to have basic web site needs anyway. If you do get stuck on something, there are 1000’s of tutorials & forums where you can get help. I remember tutoring one young fellow starting out who didn’t even know what meta tags were. But, he was full of ambition and drive and now runs a quite successful web design business of his own using templates as the base of his work. He has happy customers and that’s really what is most important.
5. An Extra Source of Income
You don’t have to use just other people’s templates. You can create your own and may want to consider selling copies to other web designers as a source of extra income. This can be quite profitable if you’re any good at it.
Most web designers I’ve known tend to use both their own web page template designs and ones they purchased from other sources, along with designing some web sites from scratch. Suprisingly, I’ve often been asked BY web designers how to make a web page template. It’s very simple I say…. “Design the graphics and layout of the page and then stop. Don’t add text, don’t add content, don’t customize the logo. There you go – you’ve got a template!”
Things To Consider:
– Not all web page templates are equal. Some use CSS, some don’t. Some are in .psd format, others are in .html format. Before purchasing templates, make sure you know what you’re getting.
– Watch out for stolen templates! Some sites steal web page templates or purchase large collections of templates which supposedly have “resell rights”. It can be hard to spot these stolen copies and most people don’t realize it until it’s too late and they can’t get a refund. Don’t put money in the pockets of these thieves if you can help it. I recently had someone contact me stating that she found my email address in one such collection (I put my contact data in the meta tags of every template) and she had some questions about using the templates, but the person she bought them from was ignoring her. It didn’t take me long to figure things out. I’ve been fighting template thieves for years. Yet again, some moron had hijacked my templates and was trying to sell them as their own. And yet again, my lawyer had his hands full.
– Royalty free? Maybe not. While some web page template developers offer you the ability to re-use the same template over and over again without having to pay extra fees, some aren’t so generous. The ideal web page template is one which can be purchased for a one-time fee and used as often as needed. Again, if in doubt, ask questions.
While there is much more I would have loved to include in this article, I’m afraid there just isn’t enough room 🙂
On a final note….. Have fun with your web design business, and it will never feel like work.