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What Is a Website Template?

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A website template is a pre-designed webpage, or set of HTML webpages that anyone can use to “plug-in” their own text content and images to create a website. 

A web template system in web publishing allows users with less design and development experience to generate custom web pages faster than would otherwise be possible and at a much lower cost.

Templates can be created specifically for a single client, purchase from aggregator websites, or downloaded for free in some cases. Generally speaking, the lower the cost of the template is, the more restrictions on its use exist. For example, free templates often require a link in the footer of every page on a website crediting the creator of the template. These links don’t look very professional on a business website.

Additionally, free templates can be downloaded by anyone – or everyone. You might find that there are several websites on the Internet – or even within your local trade area – that use the same website theme. This means while the content might be different, they all look identical to the human eye. That is not desirable for businesses for obvious branding reasons.

From a security perspective, free templates don’t get security updates very often (yes templates need security updates). If you are using a template that has a security vulnerability that is unpatched your website could (and probably will) get defaced with content you did not authorize.

The alternative to templates is to hand code every page on your website. This “old-school” method of coding offers the greatest level of customization, but also requires immense coding skill and time.

As a compromise, most businesses who are serious about their web presence will purchase and modify an existing theme or have a brand new theme created for their business. This one-time expense requires a skilled coder and costs some money, but the long-term benefits will pay dividends over time.

As a rule of thumb:

  • Use a free template when you have no time or money – least professional option
  • Purchase a template to help preserve your branding – costs a bit, but less than $200
  • For best results, pay a coder to create a template for your business that you own

Templates are outstanding tools to save time and money if they are implemented properly. Like any technology tool, they require maintenance, security updates, and upgrades to remain current.

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