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Building a Web Site: Choose Your Template

While you can build your own web site from scratch, if you're trying to get a site up quick and easily, it's best to start with a web template. The time that you save is well worth the money - once you have your initial site up, you can focus on learning more if you want to design your own site from scratch.

There are several sources for web site templates. These are the ones that we are affiliated with:

  • www.lipstickmonkey.com - FrontPage templates, HTML templates and Custom Web Design.
  • www.pixelmill.com - Tons of templates for FrontPage, and a growing selection of HTML templates that can be used in any web editor.
  • www.vividoffice.com - A narrower collection of FrontPage templates, as well as HTML templates and templates specifically for Dreamweaver.
  • www.classythemes.com - Another great collection of FrontPage templates and HTML templates and some great add-on's.
  • www.johngaltstools.com - This site showcases mainly FrontPage templates, but we have HTML and Dreamweaver templates available at both of the stores above.

What should I look for?
There are so many varieties of templates that it's really just going to come down to your preference! But here are some things that may help:

  • Look back at your three questions. What's your purpose, your audience, and the type of technology your audience will have? You may immediately rule out some things like Flash animations or graphic-intensive templates if connection speed is a concern. You may also look for templates that already have the kind of imagery that you're looking for (for example, African-American women).
  • Do you have a color scheme and/or logo? If you already have a logo designed, you may want to look for a template that already has the same color scheme, or look for a template that has colors that you can easily change (like one that uses CSS)
  • What shape is your logo? Some templates easily fit any shape of logo, others are more specific. If you have questions about a particular template,
  • None of the images fitting your needs? If you have a couple of layouts that you like, but the imagery doesn't exactly fit your needs, don't worry. Most template designers are willing to help you get your own imagery into the template. If you're a do-it-yourself kind of person, look for templates with "rectangular" imagery - pictures that are contained in rectangles that you can easily delete and replace with your own imagery. If the image is more "integrated" into the design (such as in a curve or with a layered effect), you may have to pay custom work fees for the designer to change the image for you.
  • How many pages will you have? If you think you'll have a lot of "main" pages, you may want to go with a layout that has vertical navigation as the primary navigation bar. (Horizontal navigation bars are limited - too many, and the screen may be too wide!)

Before purchasing your template, it's always good to ask questions about it! Never assume anything. You may be able to download a free or "test" template from the provider to get an idea of how the template works.

Note about ecommerce:
Many templates come with a page (or a few pages) with "sample" catalog page layouts. In most cases, the templates come with layout only and do not provide any shopping cart capability. You have the responsibility of creating a shopping cart, or of finding a third-party to help you create a shopping cart. See our section on ecommerce to learn more.

Don't want to use a template?
Be aware that you'll have to spend a lot more time learning how to design a web site. If you're using a web editor, we suggest that you check out their product support or help area to learn how to use the web editor to create web sites. If you're coding by hand, you'll have to 1) learn HTML, 2) learn how to make your own graphics, and 3) learn how to put it together. Either way, you'll also have to become familiar with different browser issues. The nice thing about starting with a template is that the designer has already dealt with most of these issues!

Next: Choose and Register Your Domain Name

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