You do not have to start—and finish—every new website design from scratch.
Before you scowl, think about it for a minute. How many times have you done the exact same thing to start a project? How many times have you created the exact same icons or user interface elements with subtle changes?
That’s where a design kit or template can come in and totally change the way you work. For many designers the benefits can outweigh some of the loss of control issues that come with prepackaged design parts. And while a kit or template or kit isn’t for every website designer every time, they can definitely be a lifesaver at times.
1. Finish Projects Fast
The top reason to invest in a design kit or template for website design projects is speed. Rather than starting from the ground up using HTML, CSS and PHP to craft the design, you can select a template option that gets right to the heart of what you want to do.
All you have to do is install it and start customizing
All you have to do is install it and start customizing. (This can be a great option for smaller websites built on common CMS systems such as WordPress.)
So what do you look for in a design template or kit? Why wouldn’t you just take the time do conduct a fresh build? Time really is the key concern. You can browse through design elements or parts (kits) or templates (full design starters) to find something that appeals visually right away. This can be an idea situation if you need a site in a hurry or have a small client project that they need to “see” before you get started.
Templates and kits can make it easy to visually communicate ideas and speed up the process. There’s no guesswork and you know exactly what the design will start as thanks to demo versions and screenshots before the purchase. (Clients actually love this concept, even if they don’t know it is a template-based project.)
2. Ensure Consistency
Users are habitual creatures. They like things to look and function in the same way all the time.
A design kit can ensure that you are working with a set of parts that look, act and interact consistently throughout a design. This can be especially important if you are building a combination of microsites for the same company or brand or working with multiple apps that should feel similar.
Most kits come with options that are customizable so you get a set of elements that mix and match; you only had to add color and branding.
3. Learn Better Practices
A design template or kit can actually be a valuable source of learning if you haven’t built a lot of websites. You can learn how the code comes together, how files are grouped and packaged and get a good overview of industry standards and best practices.
using these packages can help you get a feel for how to put together your own elements
Downloading the PSD files for a design template or kit can be particularly helpful in this manner as well. If you see yourself designing custom themes for clients in the future, using these packages can help you get a feel for how to put together your own elements for reuse later, as well.
Many theme designers actually get started in this way. After designing plenty of custom websites, they start to cull together elements that package nicely into themes that they can either reuse for clients or sell online.
4. Built-In Functionality
For designers that aren’t as well versed in elements such as search engine optimization or analytics, kits and templates can offer some built-in functionality that can make it easier to look at metrics and track results. This applies to websites that you build for yourself or clients.
built-in elements are user-friendly and designed for beginners
Many of these built-in elements are user-friendly and designed for beginners. The real bonus in built-in functionality is for client builds. Most clients can use and understand the tools with ease, including templated SEO fields and WYSIWYG editing controls. It’s also an added bonus that you can offer without a lot of more expensive add-on services from another vendor.
These tools also come with rather extensive documentation so that clients can find get information with little assistance after the install is complete.
Another key function is that many kits and templates come with automatic updates that are included with the license. That leaves less time thinking about upgrades and you are able to leave plugin and theme support to the creators, rather than having to figure it for yourself every time there’s a new CMS release. (This is most practical for clients where you build and move on, and less of a concern for a site that you plan to manage yourself.)
5. Kits Are Affordable
Generally speaking, design templates and kits are affordable. Even premium offerings—which are the preferred choice—aren’t going to break the bank. Full-scale premium themes for WordPress are often less than $100 for a single license and kits start at about $10, depending on the number of elements included.
And once you download a kit or template, it’s yours. (Just remember to opt for the developer license if you plan to use the same package multiple times.)
With low cost options, a starter kit often costs less than the time it takes to get a project up and running. (Could you do everything the template or kit allows in less than an hour?)
6. Code Is Clean
As long as your stick with a reputable provider, you can trust that the code is clean and lightweight. They often have this down to an art form (and the reviews are a good clue if things are being updated or managed as needed).
you can trust that the code is clean and lightweight
Look for a theme or design kit from a source that’s highly rated, is interactive in discussions and has a significant number of downloads. (You might want to stay away from smaller shops with only a handful of downloads or changelogs that haven’t been updated in months. That’s a red flag, for sure.)
7. Expand Your Repertoire
Finally, a design theme or kit can help you expand your ability to create different website elements. Maybe your skills aren’t as slick as they could be with a specific type of video component or slider. Maybe designing buttons just isn’t your thing.
Using tools can help you get better. You’ll get more comfortable with the way these elements, look, feel and interact so that you can become a better designer. The tools and technology are changing all the time, and everyone has a different strong spot. By working together in this way, designers and developers can actually share the wealth of their knowledge.
Using a design kit or template isn’t for every designer or project, but they can be pretty awesome tools in a pinch.