Three ways to use a Template
So what is a template?
Sometimes, when the core of the website is already built, we refer to putting a “look” on a website as “Skinning it” . Think of it as the body of a car. The core of the site is the frame, engine, wiring etc. With this type of setup, putting a look onto the website, is usually fairly easy.
There are basically 3 types or ways to work with templates.
- Modifiers / Builders
The hosting company supplies everything. Domain, Hosting and Template and an online modifier to customize it a little.
- Ecommerce template builders
Used specifically for carts. If you are selling over 20-30+ products, you probably want to be heading this way, as they cover everything you need to start selling quickly.
- Template website packages.
Here you buy a template in its source file (Photoshop), then get a developer to build the site using the file. The web designer / coder will take the file and customize it a little to match your brand.
First, Are You Selling Product?
There is a slight distinction in templates /builders that could help you to build your site, if you are selling product. Not just a few items, but a lot of product.
- Are you selling over 20 or 30 products?
- Do you have a lot of options for your products?
If so, then look below at the E-commerce template website suggestions
If you are not selling a lot of product, then use the following template modifiers / builders.
Template Modifiers / Builders
These refer to websites that offer you a template and way to modify it using their online builder.
Build your website to fit your business to a “T”… without starting from scratch. Homestead provides you with a library of over 2,000 website templates created for 100 different business categories. You can easily combine elements from several templates for a completely unique look, or just start from scratch. You can even make your website match your business card!
The prices for Homestead:
3 Billing Options:
Starter: Free Setup + US$4.99 mo. (warning: only 25mb storage / no domain)
Gold: Free Setup + US$19.99 mo. (Minimum Recommended package)
Platinum: Free Setup + US$49.99 mo.
Website Tonight is a GoDaddy product. This is a perfect solution for the Do-It-Yourselfer and if you are on a tight budget. There is nothing to install and no programming knowledge needed. As soon as you checkout from the cart you can begin editing and forming your new website. There are lots of goodies that come with each plan as well as optional additions that can be added for a small fee like blog and shopping cart.
The prices for Website Tonight (Godaddy):
3 Billing Options:
Economy: Free Setup + US $4-5.00 mo. (warning: only 50mb storage & no subnav)
Deluxe: Free Setup + US$7-9.00 mo.
Premium: Free Setup + US$10-13.00 mo.
E-commerce Template Websites Builders
These template eCommerce website builders are genuinely an all-in-one shopping cart solution. This means that if you purchase one you will not have to spend extra money on buying other products to integrate, as it is a complete solution straight out of the box!
Please remember that these are an all-in-one solution and you are RESTRICTED with the way the way the carts function. Meaning, if you need the options for your product to do somthing different, or you want them to display in a particular way YOU CANNOT DO THAT. There are NO CODERS THAT CAN WORK ON THIS TYPE OF WEBSITES. They both have a service that can help with making some changes, but they are simple and cost a lot. Also, these types of websites are NOT TRANSFERABLE. Meaning if you want to move to a new server and cart, there is no export feature. The new site would have to be built from scratch.
If you really would like to have the option of changing the way the software functions or think you might need to move or grow…try using the DIY methods of building the website instead. It will cost you a bit more in time or money, but will definitely be worth it if you need it to work a specific way.
Setting up an ecommerce shopping cart is by far the most complicated type of website to build. However, these types of systems make it very easy and take almost all of the guess work out for you.
I was fist a little skeptical about using a packaged solution or ecommerce, but the following two products really pushed he edge and have covered almost every point for you.
With this I am very comfortable in recommending these two Options. Please note I like Volusion over BigCommerce becasue they have been around longer, and have a few more features you might need when building your cart.
This might be just what you are looking for if you are looking to start up an online store.
Some of The Features at BigCommerce.com
- WYSIWYG editor (Drag and Drop to design)
- Over 50+ design templates to start with
- One-click adding product to cart (really easy)
- SEO built in! ( See below)
- Step-by-step (how to) videos covers everything you need
- Free hosting with your account
- Unlimted email acounts
- Track orders in all stages
- Ability for customers to compare products (for easy review)
- Wishlists (public & private)
- Real time mailing quotes (USPS, UPS, FedEx, ect)
BONUS – SEO With BigCommerce.com
Aaron Wall, author of SEOBook.com, a Top SEO strategist, was consulted in the developent of their software. What does this mean, well I have followed Arron for years and he knows his stuff. I can only imagine that this cart would be fulloptimized for genearting traffic via search engines.
The prices for BigCommerce.com:
They offer a FREE 15 Day Trail with No Credit Card required.
Get this first and see how you like the application.
5 Billing Options:
Bronze: $49.95 Setup + US $24.95 mo. (100 products, 200mb Storage)
Silver: $49.95 Setup + US $39.95 mo. (500 products, 300mb Storage)
Gold: $49.95 Setup + US $79.95 mo. (1000 products, 500mb Storage)
Platinum: $49.95 Setup + US $149.95 mo. (Unlimited products, 1Gb Storage)
Diamond: $49.95 Setup + US $299.95 mo. (Unlimited products, 3Gb storage)
Volusion, Inc. has been around since 1999
Setting up a store with Volusion is made as simple as possible. All you have to do is enter the pertinent information about your store into their easy-to-use, step-by-step store setup wizard.
Each package offered by Volusion comes with:
- Professional, ready-to-go templates
- Integrate Easy Editor
- Mobile Phone cart display support
- PCI/CISP certified shopping cart (BONUS)
- Zoom in on the product
- Custom automated confirmation e-mails
- Loyalty points program for your customers
- Quick one-page checkout
- Step-by-step training videos
- Integration with Google Checkout and PayPal
- Live display of stock availability
- Search engine optimization
- Automatic generation of thumbnails
- Vendor management and multiple pricing levels
- Robust admin control center.
Your finished store will take one to two business days to get tested and placed on their servers.
The customer service options attached to Volusion are arguably the best part of this software. They offer 24/7 support, which is available via telephone, email or Volusion Live Chat. Their customer service representatives are located within their company headquarters and they never outsource their support. I was genuinly impressed with how quickly their customer service representatives responded to my queries and their friendly nature when doing so.
The prices for Volusion:
They offer a FREE Trail with No Credit Card required.
5 Billing Options:
Steel: $49 Setup + US $24.99 mo. (25 products)
Bronze: $49 Setup + US $39.99 mo. (250 products)
Silver: $49 Setup + US $59.99 mo. (1000 products)
Gold: $49 Setup + US $99.99 mo. (5000 products)
Platinum: $49.95 Setup + US $159.99 mo. (Unlimited products)
Template Website Package
These template packages are just that, a template. Nothing more. You get the look of the website in files that you will either need to open in Photoshop or something similar and build using Dreamweaver…or hire someone to do that for you.
Here are the top two template companies to use:
The biggest of all the “Template” website companies. Actually, most of the template sites you see online are actually just resellers of TemplateMonster.
With over 20,000 templates (but really only 3-4,000 really good ones), template monster probably has a template for you.
The GREAT search features allow you to quickly filter down the selection to your needs with over 100 different categories.
The templates are reasonably priced around $50-100.
Unlike the TemplateWorld Option below, TemplateMonster actually has a sister company that will help you modify or customize the template you choose at a pretty reasonable price.
A full list of cost per modification is found on the TemplateTuning website.
The number 2 in templates has 3000 pretty good quality templates in a wide range of categories. Template World is home to some of the most original website templates on the Internet.
Unfortunately, Template World is also one of the most expensive services I used. You actually do not purchase the templates, but subscribe to them. However you can continue to use the templates indefinitely, even after your subscription runs out.
Benefits of Template World:
- Thousands of Premium Quality Website Templates designed by Award Winning Designers.
- Professionally coded XHTML/CSS pages- W3C markup validation passed!
- SEO Ready- Search Engine Friendly Designs.
- FREE access to all future updates. New additions uploaded almost every week.
- Fast, efficient & friendly customer support. Maximum delay of 8 hours.
- FREE one year exclusive “environment friendly” green web hosting.
The prices for Template World Templates:
4 Billing Options:
Standard Membership $50yr. (Download as many “Standard templates as you want)
Premium Membership $75yr. (Download as many “Standard or Premium templates as you want)
Pay Per Template $25 each. ( for one month…only access to 1 template)
1 year Access + Ecommerce $125 ( CONFUSING I DON’T RECOMMEND. USE VOLUSION ABOVE)
How to customize your new Templates
Option 1 – Do-it-yourself
There are other apps you can use, but really, if you are going to go down the path of DIY and get into editing templates then get the right tools form the start. In a couple of weeks you can pretty easily learn most of what you are going to need to know.
So get Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver, and then dig through YouTube for tutorial videos on putting together a website template. It is doable, time consuming, but very doable.
An added benefit is that you are going to learn how to build a website, so if you have any changes or modifications after you go live, you can do them yourself.
Option 2 – TemplateTuning (MonsterTemplates ONLY).
As mentioned above, Template tuning…Most web design companies should be able to take your files, make the modifications you need and put it live. Template Monster, actually has a sister company that will do this for you. (Go figure). The best part about this is they know the templates so they are very quick and offer the changes alacart so you can get a ballpark on the cost associatied with the site.
The cost of this service is
So you have a few options
Option 3 – Freelancer.
All you need to do is register with VWorker and post a new project. When you post the job, you are just going to be letting the developers know that you need done. For example, let themn know you have a template from either template monster or template world and you need modified with your logo, colors, and any other changes you may need. Over the next couple of days you will start to get bids and estimates on time to develop it. Look for certifided developers and a work history. DONT USE ANYONE WITH UNDER 5 PROJECTS AND A LOW RANK.
With that in mind, here are the top to freelance companies I would recommend:
(Formally Rent-A-Coder.com) In my opinion is the best of the freelance sites. This is the one I rely on most in my business. I have tried all most all of them and found the most qualified as well as the most cost effective freelancers, at VWorker.
ODesk is a close second to VWorker. They have a very unique feature that allows the developer to have a screen shot of their desk taken and made available to you. This is very helpful if you are paying on an hourly basis.
TWO MAJOR CAVEATS:
- NEVER TAKE THE WORK OUT OF ODESK OR VWORKER!!! If the developer asks to email directly or use chat, it cannot be tracked in the system and will, in most cases, void any recourse you may have if the work starts to go over budget.
- NEVER USE A PER HOUR BASIS - The developers will drag their feet to rake in the money. ALWAYS BID THE PROJECT OUT AS A WHOLE. If the job goes beyond the original scope of the project, then just send them a bonus to get the extra work done…but document it in the system.