I’ll spare you the details of how I finally decided to create a portfolio website. That’s not why you are here. All I’ll say is – it was worth it. So worth it! But, anyhow, onto how I chose the best website template for my website.
Now, it is usually easy for me to decide between the presented options. I see the option that I like or the one that suits my needs the best, and that’s it. I’m done. But when I set out to choose a website template for my personal website? That’s completely another story.
Faced with so many options, my attention was spurred on thousands of beautifully looking, professional templates. The second, I made my mind and chose the one, I would find another template that I (maybe) liked more. At the end of the day, I was certain about only one decision. I am closing my laptop and running away.
The experience of choosing a website template is definitely smoother when someone gives you a hand. Hence the reason I am writing this guide! I will lead you through the things to pay attention to and answer the questions that you might have. Once we’re done, you will be one step closer to building your own website! (On .ME domain name of course!) 😉
First Things First: Website Template That Matches Your Needs
In many cases when browsing the web for a website template, you will see that they are nicely categorized and divided. This is not a coincidence! The type of template you choose will determine your structure, functions and visuals.
Everyone can fall into the trap of choosing an aesthetically spotless option, at first. Eventually, they sometimes learn that it’s a not practical choice for their brand’s purpose. That’s why it’s wise to use the type of our business as the base for choosing a website template category.
Start by looking through the menu of the website templates provider. Try finding a category that best describes your business. For example, an e-commerce category is the one to opt for when owning a business that sells retail goods. On the other hand, artistic souls and professionals who wish to showcase their portfolio would click on the ‘personal templates’ option.
The functionality that fits your needs is more important than the initial look of your website. The templates are generally fully customizable, which means that you can make every detail feel right and just for you. By modifying the font, adding photos and videos, you leave a personal mark. One thing is for sure, the final product will not look the same as the template. Then, who can tell that you didn’t build your website from scratch?
Next Checkpoint: Key Design and Usability Points
Folks, it gets serious here, as we’re approaching some key points to consider when choosing the best website template. They will define how the information you include will be structured on your website. Some of the key design and usability points are:
- Content width design
- Home page header layout
- Logo placement
- Navigation design
- Search Engine Optimization
Content Width Design
This is one of the questions that will pop up on the way. The majority of website templates offer two options: full-width or boxed-width. The full-width design involves a background image of your website to stretch the full width of your screen. This is a dominantly popular choice for mobile responsive websites and the ones that are heavier with graphics. The extra space also allows you to fit more options in your tab, which is handy.
On the other side, boxed width designs are recognizable for their visible frame from the left and right. This choice reminds us somehow of the past, right? Boxed-width design was actually very popular before, and it is still used now for a business-oriented website as it can be considered more professional. With this option you don’t have to worry if your readers will have a different experience, depending on the device they use. Each persons’ visuals will be consistent.
Now, quick test! What’s the width design of our website? Does it suit your likings? Take notes and use them for your own website.
Homepage Header Layout
Have you ever clicked on the website and got stunned by how captivating the first image is? It means that the company picked a good header! This is the first thing that visitors see, so it deserves we spend some time on it. You will get a chance to incorporate an image, video or slideshow in your header. Possibilities are large, and we can get tempted to use the flashiest option! Yet, although breathtaking, the header we’re impressed with might not represent our brand in the best way.
Your header should help the visitors instantly get the gist of your brand’s purpose. Some options that you can consider are:
- Static image header – if you own a business such as a restaurant, hotel, or you want to showcase a portfolio, this is the option to consider. Brands that can attract visitors by a mesmerizing image of their product or service can opt for this one. If you would need some text in your header to explain what is it that you do, skip to the next option!
- Static header image with content – This option provides a good mix of everything! It features a headline, a supporting photo, an additional paragraph and a call to action. If you’re in for the safest option, this one is a no-brainer. Yet, it’s important that each segment of your header mix complements the others, as they should together form a symphony!
- Slideshow header with content – A perfect solution if you own several products with graphics that you want to showcase. Your customers can simply scroll and click on their preference.
- Video background – This one is a star in grabbing the attention! But be careful with the video you choose. Make sure it’s good quality, unique, short, and most important of all – that it carries the right message of your brand.
Position of Your Logo
Depending on what part of your business you want to accentuate, you can decide where to place the logo. For example, if you’re an already established brand, you can choose the option to place your logo in the same line as the menu bar. This way, the product will be in the spotlight, while the size of the logo will be restricted to the height of the menu bar.
If your business is still a delicate flower ready to bloom, it’s a good idea to strengthen the brand identity. In that case, it’s wise to place the logo in the centre, below or above the menu bar. If better brand recognition is amongst your priorities, this option should be a winner.
Menu Bar Positioning
You probably noticed that menu bars can take different locations on your screen, depending on the website. What you might didn’t know is that the precise position has lots of underlying reasons! For example, menu bars that are fixed at the top of the page are usually used for websites with lots of content. It means that those sites usually consisted of long pages, so this way of having the menu bar is the most effective.
Vertical menu bars on the side are particularly effective if the website is graphic intensive. Nevertheless, the top horizontal menu bar is the choice for 80% of websites! Why is that the case? Well, one reason is psychological – people are used to having menu bars on that side! We will most likely search for it there subconsciously.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This little tool is one of the most valuable segments of your future website. It helps it be discoverable by users. A good SEO will increase the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through search engine results. It can often be the determining factor of having a new client or losing one. For this reason, we will give an advantage to website template providers which provide easy to incorporate SEO tools. It can really make a difference!
Essential Additions for Website Templates: Extensions, Plugins and Apps
It’s time to embark on the journey of our website’s customization! Yet, options can vary from one website builder/provider to the other. While some offer personalization when it comes to colour and font selection, the others allow you to construct a custom layout and add different types of multimedia.
If you’ve set your mind on a particular template, check the features it offers. For example, if you own a small service business, adding a reservation form would be a nice touch. Photographers, craftsmen and artists would benefit from a photo gallery on their website. Investigate what your template offers, but don’t necessarily go for the one with the most options. To be honest, there are some features which we’ll never use and don’t need. It’s practical to keep it as simple as it can get!
A Helping Hand In Need: Customer Support
Yes, we didn’t start creating a website from scratch, and definitely can’t say that we know how to code. But, even if we picked the best website template, it can get confusing sometimes! That’s why having a template developer who can help when we need support is invaluable.
Scroll through your website template provider site and try to find if it states which type of customer support it offers. Depending on your preferences, check if they have options such as telephone calls, live chat or email. Sometimes this little detail could be our life-saver, so it’s best to have our easy escape card with us!
Little birdies, you are ready to fly! It’s time for you to gather all the information and take off. We wish your website to be awesome, your traffic huge and the functionality spotless! All in all, if you need just a little bit more help, we’ve got you covered.