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The market in Web Design templates is changing, its becoming ‘free’.

I recently did a site for someone who had paid for a template, which, whilst ok was only as good as the average template available from the Open Source Web Directory.

I have seen a few people ‘reselling’ templates for commercial companies, and to be honest think they are wasting their time. I don’t believe these businesses will exist in a few years time, certainly not for static templates.

The reason? Traffic and exposure is a commodity easily exploited with a free template. I recently wrote about a free template I found, the authors of which claimed to have around 200k templates in use around the world. They generate a lot of interest in their activities by distributing a small number of good quality templates.

There are now thousands of free templates available, designers are competing to get you to download them, for free!

Similarly, there is a growing industry in WordPress templates with many free designs available, though, there are still relatively few high quality functional designs available.

For those that are successful, i.e. produce a good template the exposure they get is invaluable. Take this site for example, the template it uses has over 40k downloads, and at the bottom of the page you will see a link back to the author.

So, that is how web designers make money with templates, they get free publicity, showcase their work and get paid commissions for high value bespoke work.

On the other site, it is possible to make money deploying these templates. Many are complex and require an understanding of CSS and (XX)HTML to be able to work with them.

On top of that, building static sites is a bad plan as they are so difficult to maintain, which means you also need PHP to be able to chop the site up into constituent components, and then javaScript to add some tricks as required.

This is an opportunity for deployer’s of templates and software to earn their crust, and is really how I see the market going, deployment and configuration with a much smaller design / development element.

Why not build the site from scratch?

Well why re-invent the wheel, using templates gives the following advantages:

  • Lower cost to the customer
  • Faster turn around
  • The ability for the customer to choose a ‘starting point’ from thousands of free templates

There are already a number of companies making good profits deploying open source applications and templates. I have done this myself.

If you are going to do this, in my opinion you just need to be honest, tell the customer what you are doing, let the price reflect you are using a template as your starting point, and leave the back-link to the original author.

I have seen a few people claiming to be designers, checked their portfolio and realised they are using other peoples templates, not good when their customers find out!

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    Comment by Shaun

    Yeh prety much webdesigning templates for a price will be non existant in a while.

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    For sure, that market is over… people still buy them as they are not aware of the free sites, but that will change rapidly IMO.

    Also the quality of some of these templates is very high, higher than a lot of the paid templates… and the authors revise them for emerging browsers… like ie7.

    Free designs for Joomla! are still tricky to come by though, most of the free ones are poor… people are still maing money selling those…. or running template clubs…

    Comment by Angie

    I love your fresh approach to this tired topic! Indeed, why reinvent the wheel? It is a much more wise use of my time to simply customize or update something that exists. But, your reminded to leave the link to the original designer is something more people need to heed. It’s just the right thing to do.

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    Comment by Joe Splogs

    I noticed a lot of people are creating WP tpls and including links to their commercial sites with the link text and other people who are putting affiliate links in the tpls.

    I bet there are some people who also put hidden links in the pages too.

    Any good developer should know that WP is a hackers wet dream. It would not be hard to release WP templates (which arent really templates but botched HTML and php – real templates should use some sort of tpl engein) and then insert some php in there for you to be able to insert links etc.

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    I have seen a few free WP templates where footer.php has been encrypted… stops people removing their links and who knows what else… maybe controlling links remotely… allowing them to rent links out in your footer :twisted:


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