Choosing a website template is an important decision for every business owner. There are plenty of things to consider; from the type of website you want to build, and different features and customization options, down to the budget and your level of experience with editing templates.
It’s quite natural to feel overwhelmed when it comes to picking the right site template for your website. With that in mind, we put together this walkthrough to identify the steps necessary to choose the best website template.
How to Choose a Template
Before choosing a website template, there are a couple of key points you need to take into consideration:
1. What Type of Website Do You Want to Build?
A website template determines your sites structure, functions, and how it will display. Are you building a simple one-page website or do you need several pages which include galleries, maps, or videos?
You should also keep in mind your industry and your niche to choose the best site template. A template created with photographers in mind will not be suitable for an accounting business and vice versa.
2. What Type of Layout and Design Fits Your Needs?
The layout and design determine how the information will be structured when you create a website. There are five key design and usability points to consider when it comes to choosing the right website template:
- content width design
- header layout
- navigation design
- logo placement
- overall usability and user experience
Content Width Design
Most website templates today offer two types of content width: full-width and boxed width.
A full-width design is when the background image stretches the full width of your computer screen. Full-width layouts are very popular and work well for mobile responsive templates and graphic heavy websites. Generally speaking, they are considered more creative and modern.
The Canvas HTML5 Template has a beautiful full-width design (notice how the header image spans the entire width of the canvas from edge to edge):
Boxed width is when your content has a visible frame to the left and right side of the screen. This type of layout is better suited for business-oriented websites because it feels more traditional and professional. The Brandon WordPress Theme has a boxed design option:
The header is usually the first thing your visitors will see when they visit your website. There are many different types of header layouts and they can range from a simple logo image and main navigation to headers that contain slideshows, videos, an image with text overlays, and so on.
Choosing the right type of header is more of a goal-oriented decision rather than a design decision. Your website header should successfully communicate the core message of your business to your visitors.
Using a captivating image to create an amazing visual experience works well for businesses such as hotels, restaurants, or spas.
If on the other hand, your type of business might be hard to explain with image only, you should choose a header design that incorporates an image with a text overlay. Make sure to include your headline, a supporting paragraph or your tagline, and a call-to-action in the overlay.
This is also the most used type of header design, which is displayed below in the Foundry WordPress Template:
Likewise, if your business offers more than one service or if you cater to different audiences, using a slideshow header can be an excellent way to showcase everything you have to offer in an organized way. The Porto Site Template shows a header slideshow in action below:
Headers featuring video, on the other hand, can work extremely well for most small business owners when done correctly. They can be a powerful marketing tool, giving your brand a more personal feel, and explaining your business mission in an engaging way.
Navigation Bar Design
Your navigation is the primary tool that will guide your visitors around your website. Your navigation bar should be clean and simple, with a background color that is easy on the eyes. Your pages should be laid out in order of importance from left to right and should include only the essential pages. Supporting pages should be added as drop down menu items rather than included on the main menu.
The position of your navigation bar is also important. A horizontal top navigation menu is a classic design and one that most people are used to.
If your pages are very long, then you should consider using a menu bar that is permanently fixed at the top of the page no matter how far down your visitors scroll.
If your website will be graphic heavy, consider using a vertical navigation bar which is particularly effective if your menu items have long titles or if you have a lot of tabs.
Another option for graphic heavy websites is the bottom horizontal navigation menu which puts the focus primarily on the content and eliminates visual distractions. This type of menu also works well if your website’s primary goal includes a call-to-action such as an email sign up or to shop your online store.
The placement of your logo says a lot about your business goals. A logo placed in the same line as your main navigation works well for businesses who are more focused on their products and services and put less importance on branding. It’s best suited for companies who serve the business-to-business (B2B) market.
A centered logo, either below or above the main navigation, works well for businesses focused on creating a brand identity and is most commonly popular with retail businesses.
Overall Usability and User Experience
Last, but not least, you should consider overall usability and user experience of the website template. Keeping the above-mentioned points in mind, your chosen website template should not only have an attractive design, it should also fit your requirements. More importantly, it should include responsive and mobile-friendly design, load quickly, and include SEO optimization.
3. Features and Customization
Most modern website templates allow for some level of customization to blend in with your existing brand. The customization options range from color and font selection and adding your company logo all the way to adding multimedia and creating a custom layout.
Bear in mind that website template customization should enhance the template not require a complete redesign.
Website templates also offer a wide variety of features which are either very niche specific such as including a reservation form or a photo gallery to very general features which can be used across a range of niches.
Consider what features you need from your website template and eliminate all the templates with features you don’t need and will never use.
4. Customer Support and Budget Considerations
No matter how "simple to use" or "easy to update," website templates claim to be, they must be supported by a template developer who offers support if you run into any problems. Choose a template whose designer clearly states they offer customer support via phone, email, or online chat so that you can feasibly get your site uploaded and ready for viewing as quickly as possible.
Quite a few of our templates come with 6-month support which includes:
- Answering questions about how to use the template.
- Answering technical questions about the item (and included third-party assets) such as specific questions about the features and functionality of the item, provide guidance on the way the item is designed, help you with issues related to using the item and getting the most value out of its functionality, etc.
- Help with defects in the theme or included third-party assets such as bugs and minor item issues.
- Item updates to ensure ongoing compatibility and to resolve security vulnerabilities.
Our support doesn’t provide theme customizations, installation of the item, hosting, server environment or software, and help from authors of included third-party assets. For customization or installation services that will help you tailor the template to your specific requirements, we recommend checking out the professional service providers and developers on Envato Studio.
Types of Templates
There are two main types of website templates you should consider for your business website. Those are static or HTML templates and WordPress templates. Let’s take a closer look at the two.
1. Static Templates
Static site templates have their own set of pros and cons.
Static Website Template Pros:
- Little to No Maintenance – Once your website is live, there is no need to install any updates or perform regular backups. In most cases, the initial backup is more than enough.
- Low Requirements – Since static templates don’t use PHP or a database such as MySQL, they can run on a cheaper server with few resources needed which lowers the hosting costs.
Static Website Template Cons:
- No Updates – Unless you are familiar with HTML/CSS, static website templates can be very difficult to update for beginners which often translates into hiring a developer even for simple tasks.
- No Additional Features – If your business grows and you want to add a feature to your website like a store, you will have to hire a developer to do this for you.
- Costs - Even though website templates are pretty affordable, they can quickly prove to be quite expensive if you require lots of changes and updates.
Now that you know the pros and cons of static website templates, it’s worth mentioning when a static website template makes a wise choice.
A static website template is a perfect choice if you are absolutely certain that you won't want to update, change, or add anything new to your website or if you know how to code and can easily make changes to your website yourself. Similarly, if you don’t have the time nor the resources to develop content for a business blog, then a static template is a better choice.
Here is a popular static website template - Pillar, which has a built in page builder to help you craft a variety of html sites:
2. WordPress Templates
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS).
So, there are more components built into a WordPress template compared to a simple site template. You access all those components and setup your site through the WordPress interface, as well as add plugins and manage your site. The biggest advantage of any CMS is the ability to update your website from a user-friendly interface.
Having said that, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using WordPress.
Pros of Using WordPress
- Easy to Update – Thanks to an intuitive user interface, WordPress makes it easy for you to create or update pages on your site.
- Professional Templates – There are thousands of ready-made templates that you can use on your site and most of these templates include a user-friendly interface which allows you to change the colors, fonts, layout, and much more with just a couple of mouse clicks.
- Incredibly Powerful – WordPress has a huge library of plugins which allow you to further extend the functionality of your website, such as: adding a contact form, adding a reservation system, adding a photo gallery, and more.
Cons of Using WordPress
- Learning Curve – While WordPress is easy to use, it takes a while for most beginners to get familiar with the software. However, the Internet is full of helpful resources centered specifically around WordPress.
- Maintenance – If you use WordPress, it’s extremely important to keep it up-to-date, as well as any themes and plugins you have installed. You can either do this yourself or use a managed WordPress hosting provider which will take care of this for you.
Here is the most popular WordPress theme on Envato Market (Avada), because of it's flexible design and full-featured options:
WordPress is a great choice if you want to be able to update your website easily whenever you want. If you plan on using content marketing as your strategy for business growth, then WordPress makes even more sense because it allows you to start a business blog and grow your email list effortlessly.
Learn how to install a WordPress theme, start a business blog, and discover more great business WordPress themes:
- WordPressHow to Install a WordPress ThemeTom McFarlin
- BlogHow to Start a Blog for Your BusinessAndrew Blackman
- WordPress15+ Best WordPress Corporate/Business Themes for EntrepreneursBrenda Barron
Pick the Right Website Template
Web design templates and WordPress themes can save you time, money, and effort when you create a website. Choosing the right template for your site depends on numerous factors, many of which we covered in this post.
Your go to guidelines should be to choose one that has an attractive design, great usability, and includes all the features you need. That way, you can concentrate on growing your business, rather than spending too much of your time on just making your website function.
Be sure to check out the full offering of site templates at Envato Market for even more professional options.