As part of the web design process for every client, Marketeam comes up with a complete custom design that matches client’s branding and colour palettes. But how do we actually come up with unique designs every time? Well, the answer to that question is we use templates as a framework for all of our websites and then incorporate additional design elements to make them unique.
We feel designing and developing websites this way gives us the freedom and flexibility to create amazing looking websites – every time, whilst cutting down on development and design costs for our customers. So here’s why we use templates to build our websites.
How using templates and frameworks cuts down on time and cost for our customers
We are always looking for new and innovative ways to reduce the time it takes to build a customer’s website whilst boosting it’s functionality. With this goal always in mind we’ve built many websites in a variety of different ways and feel we have found the best way possible to build budget-friendly websites that perform well in search engines, have great functionality and won’t break the bank.
What’s the difference between a template and a framework?
Before we jump into talking about templates and the benefits of using them for website designs, I would like to go over the difference between a template and a framework as many template providers these days also have their own frameworks that templates sit on top of.
If you think of it like a house, the framework is all the beams and supporting framework that the house sits on and the template is the walls, carpet, tiles and decorations that go into the home.
Ok, but what does a website framework actually do?
Our preferred framework for both Joomla and Wordpress websites is called Gantry and this framework makes it really easy for us as website developers to change and extend templates and designs incredibly easily.
For example, if we wish to change the colour of hyperlinks in the content area, we can do that by filling in a colour field within the framework. If we wish to add module areas or additional sections to a website, we can easily do this within the framework. Without a framework, all these developments would need to be hand coded and that takes time – a lot of time.
“Using a website framework like Gantry enables us to cut down web development project time considerably for our customers saving them time and money.”
Why even use a website framework? Why not just buy a template from a site like Templatemonster – they have more choice and are usually cheaper after all?
The issue we have found with using a template website like Templatemonster is that whilst there’s a variety of different designs to choose from, there’s no consistency to how they’ve been created and coded. This can cause issues down the track as every template will have it’s own way of allocating colours, logos, pages, etc and a website design company would need to spend time finding their way around every template they use before they can even start building a website for a client.
Combine this with compatibility issues with different modules and you can quickly get bogged down into lots of tiny, frustrating issues for every website that you build.
The real advantage of using the same framework for each website design is you get a consistent development environment – reducing time spent on bug fixing, additional functionality and design changes, etc.
Think of a website framework like a chef’s kitchen. All the utensils, frying pans and cookers are the tools a chef uses to make the meal. That’s what a website framework like Gantry is – tools that enable us to create beautiful website designs. Now imagine a chef that has to go into a different kitchen, with different pots and pans, utensils and cookers, etc every time he wants to cook a meal. That’s going to cause inconsistent results with their output, take them longer to make and be a more frustrating process in the long run. Using the same kitchen, ingredients and tools every time means that chef can create something beautiful with consistent results in a timely fashion.
“Using the same website framework means a consistent development environment and great results for our customers every time.”
What’s the benefit of using templates in website development?
Now that we’ve got an understanding of what a framework is and how that relates to a website template, let’s look at why we prefer to develop websites using templates. Our preferred template provider is Rockettheme and we’ve been using their templates and Gantry framework for over 10 years.
Website templates help speed up development time
We’re always looking at ways to be more productive in the limited hours we get to spend in front of our computers each day, so using templates is a great solution to cut down on development time.
If a web design agency is creating a custom design from scratch, usually they need to get a designer to come up with the look and feel of the website, go back and forth with the client a few times until the design has been signed off. Once approved a programmer then needs to chop up that design and build the template for a content management system like Joomla or Wordpress. This easily adds 1-2 days work to any website design project. Using template eliminates this process and speeds up development time.
Website templates are extensible so additional module areas can easily be added
When a template is built from scratch, typically only the module areas, sidebars, slideshow areas, etc that are incorporated into the initial design are built into the template. This means that after your site launches it’s difficult to add additional areas for modules, images, slideshow, etc to your site without the assistance of a developer.
Using templates and a framework like Gantry makes it super simple for us to add additional areas to your site once it’s been built. Want to change your sidebar from right to left? Want to add an additional footer area? Need a special section at the top of your site for holiday messages? No problem. In fact with Gantry and Rockettheme templates you can add unlimited additional sections to your website with simple drop and drag interface. You won’t need to know a single line of code.
That’s the real power of frameworks and templates.
Website templates and frameworks make handover easy
Whether it’s handing over the website to a client for training and updates (or if the hard workers at Marketeam were to suddenly get hit by a bus), using a well known and easy to use templating system and framework like Gantry and Rockettheme means that should the need for any of our clients to use another web design company arise, they won’t have any issues taking care of our customers.
Templates and frameworks also makes it super simple for customer that like to get their hands dirty to jump into the Joomla or Wordpress and start making updates and changes without having to learn html or code.
Website templates establish a consistent development environment
When building websites making sure that each project runs as smoothly as possible is incredibly important. This helps to establish an effective workflow process and also means clients get results.
Using the same template company and framework for our website designs means that we are familiar with the development environment so when we have to change between projects, the environment is similar.
It also means that any bugs or issues we find and solve can be juxtaposed to other projects should the occasion arise, thus reducing project completion time frames across the board.
Using one template company means superior support
This means both support for us and from us. We’ve been using the same template company for the past 10 years, this means we’ve built up a rapport with the support staff and usually get help with any issues we have very quickly. It also means that we’re intimately familiar with their framework so we’re able to communicate any bugs, issues or problems effectively, meaning less time going back and forth with support and more time getting on with the job of building amazing websites for our customers.
Using templates doesn’t mean all your designs look the same
I have to admit, sometimes I don’t like using the term ‘template’ as customers may think that all our websites come out like a conveyor belt in a web design factory. This couldn’t be further from the truth as each design we create is unique to each and every client.
To give you an example, the following 3 x websites (including our own – Marketeam) use the same template:-
Secure and safe widgets, plugins, modules, components and particles, etc
By subscribing to a particular template provider we know that we’re helping to support ongoing development of their templates, plugins, modules, components and particles. Not only that but we know that they’re going to be built in a secure and well-structured way as they have a consistent team working on them.
There’s nothing wrong with free plugins, if they’re built well and they’re secure, but a quick Google search will show there’s many vulnerable Wordpress plugins and vulnerable extenstions for Joomla – many of them being free.
Using website templates means you get a quality product with less problems
Sure anyone can throw up a quick Wordpress or Joomla install, whack in a template, upload your logo and install a bunch of free plugins for you and only charge a very small fee, but I can 99% guarantee you that down the track you will be paying a proper website developer to fix all the bugs, issues, hacks or security problems your website is bound to have.
There’s a lot that goes into a quality website – from design and framework setup, content development, bug testing, custom css, cross browser testing, responsive design testing and everything in between.
Here at Marketeam we believe we’ve gotten that process down to a fine art form by utilising website templates, frameworks and finally, a focus on offering first-class customer service. After all, when we get great service, we are happy to continue being a customer and that’s what we want for every Marketeam customer we build a website for.