Selecting a website template is one decision you definitely do not want to rush. The template you select will set the tone for your entire web presence. But before you dive straight into searching through templates, you need to have a good idea of the content your website will include.
It is not necessary for you to sit down and write all the content for your web site at this time, but you will need to identify what high-level pages to include. This will help you to know if a particular template fits your needs. As you are browsing through templates, you want to make sure it includes pages that correspond to each of your high-level pages.
To figure out what high-level pages your site needs, consider the following typical ones:
- Home – Think of this as a kind of virtual foyer. It is the entry way for the entire web site and if done properly, it will draw visitors further in. You want this page to compel the visitor to learn more about you and your business. You also want to convince them that returning to your web site is a good idea.
- About Us – This page tells all about your company and why the visitor should buy your product or service. It should reflect your company’s goals and if you have some kind of a mission statement, this is where it will go.
- Products and/or Services – This is where you tell about what it is you are selling. The high-level page should summarize all that you offer and you may want to have separate pages for products versus services. If you have more than one product or service that fall into distinct categories, you may want to include one high-level page for each category.
- Contact Information – This is where you give contact information, provide maps, include a contact form, etc.
- Support – If your business offers some kind of support, you will need a page which details how customers can contact support or access any resources you offer.
- Blog – Everyone has a blog these days. True. And if you haven’t gotten into blogging yet, now is the time to do so. Not only is it a way to join the new online social revolution, but it is a easy and effective way to generate dynamic content for your web site and build a trusting relationship with your customers.
- Frequently Asked Questions – This type of page is becoming increasingly more popular and it is a good place to address any and all concerns your customers may have about you.
- Privacy Information – Many web sites offer a privacy page, but it is not necessary. If you have no legal reason to include one, I would leave it out.
Once you figure out what high-level pages your web site needs, write them down. For each page, identify what kind of content you will need to include. Brainstorm out a list of things that you want included on each page. Do this in an outline format. You will need to refer to this outline when narrowing down your list of potential web templates.
The next step is to search through as many templates as possible. I would stay away from the free templates. Remember, you pay for what you get, so if you pay nothing, you can’t expect much. There are thousands of great website templates out there that cost less than $100 and look fantastic. I personally get all my templates from TemplateMonster.com.
Your first search should produce a list of five to ten potential templates. Send template links to people you trust and ask them for feedback. Listen to what they have to say, but don’t ignore your instincts. If your gut tells you a particular template isn’t right for your business, it probably isn’t.
Whatever you do, do not rush this decision and try to pick a template in less than an hour. I suggest dedicating a few days to the decision so you have time to reflect on your choices. The template you select will reflect on you and your business. Choose wisely.