Small business owners or site owners who can’t afford to hire a custom designer will sometimes purchase template websites. A template can be considered a pre-made website. A good template design should allow for easy customization. This is a cost effective solution that can work great if the design is handled and molded into the company/site’s brand. Here are some simple tweaks that can be used to reshape a template to give it a little bit more customization and personality.
When you are working with a layered PSD, it is easy to modify design elements such as font, color and overall layout and composition. The template should be broken down and labeled as layers for the main components like header, navigation, content and footer.
This may be the most important element that needs immediate attention. Most templates give you a generic graphic. If you have a logo, some simple resizing and good placement is all you need. If you do not have a logo, creating one can be as simple as buying stock imagery and some fonts to go along with it.
Most of my website design starts with the logo as the jumping off point. If a company or site already has this part of the process complete, I move forward with the logo’s color, feel or mode to layout the page.
If you have a logo that is going to be used for the template, figuring out the color scheme will be simple. This color scheme will then be used to direct the header, text and content color to some degree. ColorSchemer Online v2 is a great color picker/scheme tool that can be downloaded to your computer (PC and MAC). ColorSchemer also has a great blog that covers various color topics, as well as tips and tools for how to design with color.
“If you create a favicon, they will bookmark it.” Ok, all Field of Dreams references aside, favicons are a great way to reinforce your brand. Everything is a brand. Creating a favicon is simple. When a visitor sees one, it can be a strong indicator that they are in the right place. Here we took the ‘e’ that is in the 10e20 logo and used that as a favicon. Favicon.cc is a simple, easy to use tool that creates favicons, then allows you to download them for easy implementation.
It is cost effective to use a design template for your site, but try to make it your own so you’ll stand out and look professional. Some things are obvious and simple to do while others require more resources and time, but keeping with the idea of a brand and sticking to that brand’s ‘style’ will make the design look cohesive and not picked off the shelf.