Commonly, when a client wants a new web site, they have at least some idea of a style they'd like to achieve. They may not have a vision in place for specifics like color or fonts or graphics. But, they usually do have an overall kind of vibe they're after. For example, most serious business-types (lawyers, CPAs, financial people, etc.) know in advance that they need a "professional" look. Similarly, a fashion store may want a "trendy" look, and a tattoo shop may prefer an "edgy" look.
In the old days, it was tough to get your site done the way you wanted because you had to find someone with two sets of well-developed skills -- web development and design. That's always been the interesting (and, to me, fun) thing about the web; it's really an intersection of creative and analytical talents. (I actually enjoy working with both sides of my brain!)
Sooner or later, the culture evolved into a scenario in which the techies could (if they so chose) sequester themselves off into one analytical area concerned purely with code, and the designers (if they so chose) could concentrate purely on design and other more creative aspects of the web. So, to a lot of people, this has been a real win-win. And, one could argue that the wild success of platforms that support this (every major CMS -- like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal -- at the moment) has quite a bit to do with this splitting off of specialties.
Okay, so what does this mean to me?
Good question. It means you no longer have to find that magic, often elusive, combination of design and technical talent in your webmaster. You can simply tell him or her (hopefully us here at Marketing Portland!): "Hey, I'd like to hire you guys to do my site, and I'd like to see 4 or 5 sample designs that have a [fill in the blank] look."
The upsides of this type of design are that:
- it's usually a time saver. Provided the template designer used clean, easy to customize methods and code (and most are easy to work with), you benefit from effectively skipping the whole custom design process. Keep in mind that your webmaster will still require time for customizations. But, overall, it'll be a much quicker process as compared with a custom design.
- you're afforded more choice. In the old days, you'd usually be limited to the range of designs that your designer might have come up with. Today, you can shop around!
- you get to choose from fully-designed templates. In the old days, you'd generally choose from a few sketches produced by a single designer. Now, you get to review fully-designed themes. So, you get a clearer picture right away of how things will look when finished.
- it saves money. Naturally, a quicker process usually translates into cost savings for you!
Do I Have to Use a Template?
Certainly not! Even if you're using a CMS that requires a theme, most CMSs today make it fairly easy to use your own design as the template. Marketing Portland's web site is a custom design, but we've used this same design with Wordpress and one other CMS so far with no problems.
If you're ready to explore a new web site, or a redesign of your current site, let's talk about which CMS platforms and design templates might be right for you. Again, we can also do 100% custom design work, and/or work with a designer of your choosing as well. It all depends on your preferenes and, of course, budget.
This article explains how to select a theme. There are definitely some things you should know, so read this one for sure!
Ready to review some themes? Here's a link to RocketTheme, which makes some great ones.