Templates Are The Future


Since the dawn of the computer age it took, relatively speaking, only a hot minute before the Internet exploded and everyone wanted his or her own website. So to meet the need, these things called “templates” burst onto the scene so that everyone in the known world didn’t have to start from scratch and code their own websites.

These templates would be pretty handy, right? Sure. Trouble was, no self-respecting web developer or serious business person would be caught dead using one. At this stage of the game – and up until just a few years ago, in fact — the very word “template” implied cheap, inflexible, boring, and unimaginative. Think of clip art, but bigger.

Options such as Tripod were out there from the beginning, offering themselves to photographers and computer novices/marketers who wanted a site that supported images. Tripod offered a few basic HTML templates that provided a jumpstart, and savvy folks could add their own HTML, CSS, text and images. But mostly, the “two-column layout A,” “two-column layout B,” and “three-column layout” offerings looked no better than a restaurant take-out menu.

Then other choices like Adobe’s popular PageMaker began springing up, which made it possible for the non-expert to create more imaginative sites. But tut they still weren’t adaptable enough to produce awesome websites and online stores that would wow customers, amplify brands, and help achieve marketing and sales goals.

The antidote, of course, was time. In the last few years, companies such as WordPress have sprung onto the market and have upped the game, finally giving mom & pop marketers and big-league businesses alike some legitimate options. Of course, WordPress started as a blogger tool, but it now offers a multitude of template options that feature robust images, flexible designs and widgets galore.

Envato Market’s ThemeForest kicks things up another welcomed notch – perhaps completely legitimizing the word “template” – by selling templates created by professional web designers. There, anyone can buy and sell HTML templates, as well as themes for popular CMS products like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. As billed on its website, it’s the “home to a bustling community of web designers and developers and is the biggest marketplace of its kind.”’

With that kind of creative muscle behind them, why not use templates? If business owners have it in them to spend some time playing around with a plug-and-play template, they’ll ultimately save themselves time and money by not having to hire a developer to build a site from scratch.

Of course, just because the tools exist doesn’t mean people will use them, or use them well … and that continues to be the downfall of well-intended but “design-challenged” developers. Even as recently as 2014 (as a search of the “worst websites of the year” uncovers), web builders were caught using outdated tools that resulted in horrific websites.

Here’s how the “worst” website of 2014 was reviewed: “I looked at the source code and discovered the site was created using NetObjects Fusion – a web design tool I was really, really fond of back in 1996-97. Oh, well. Time moves on. This website hasn’t. As soon as my eyes quit bleeding, I think I shall simply drink heavily. There is no sense in trying to figure out the “why” of this site. It has all the charm of a junkyard located on top of an old landfill, and right next to a sewage treatment plant.”

This doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Templates, thankfully, are no longer a pariah.




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