Should I use web templates and themes?
I wrote this post a while back. The content can still be relevant but the information I've linked to may not be available.
One thing that I have been pondering recently is whether to use web templates or (WordPress) themes more regularly in web design projects. Yes, you might view this as a cop-out or some indication of lack of creativity. On the other hand, if you want to jump-start a website design and get straight into the front-end build CSS and HTML, perhaps a theme/template is a good starting point?
Whilst I was thinking on this, imagine my surprise (perhaps surprise is too strong a word but you get the idea) when Sabrina Dent, a designer whose work I have often admired, wrote this blog post called Confessions of a Template Whore where she outlines some of the advantages of using templates. One of the main reasons cited is for clients who don't have a large budget. Hey, I get that all the time!
In my experience, a client is rarely satisfied with a template off-the-shelf and customisation will always be required. However, when a template or theme ticks most of the boxes, customisation becomes easier than starting from scratch. In addition, you can always learn from the way that another designer does things. Just because you always float a specific element does not mean that is the only way of doing it!
Now, I'm not saying you just choose any old template here. The client's objectives, budget, and type of business will all influence your choice of theme. You might decide to spend quite some time at the start of the website design process choosing one or more themes or templates. Although a template can be a quick start for your web design process, don't rush the template selection process. I like to look at a variety of themes and assess which might be best.
So, what's your take on this? Are templates bad for web design or are they a smart way of getting the basic structure and design established quickly, with client customisation to follow?
Related: ThemeForest has some high quality templates and themes.