Better Than Blank: Kickstart A Custom Website Design With A Template

by Marc Schenker

posted on 01-17-2018

The use of website templates has significantly increased in popularity over the last few years. This major change has been brought on by the sheer omnipresence of reasonably priced, attractive, and usable templates for both business and personal use.

Designers have been at the forefront of this rapid change in the industry. It was once frowned upon (or at least strongly discouraged) to tell your clients that you were going to use a template to kickstart the design of their site.

Adobe Muse can help with this. Muse is a free-form design tool that allows visual designers to design fully responsive, interactive sites without having to code, but sometimes having a blank canvas can be overwhelming. That’s why Muse offers Muse Starter designs, which are four fully designed templates that allow new Muse users to easily customize with their own content.

Here’s a rundown of the advantages and considerations designers need to keep in mind when using templates.

You can redesign from within the template by experimenting with color and typography

Templates save you time, since they offer a pre-designed framework, so you can dive right into tweaking the design to your liking. This can be a little restrictive, though, since you’re not designing from scratch and deciding on each detail of the site, but working within the pre-existing confines of the template.

Despite that, there’s still a lot of freedom for design experimentation, as you can personalize and customize any template by playing around with various elements like the colors and typography.

Don’t like the overly vibrant colors that come as the default? You can tweak the design to add more neutral colors or colors from opposite sides of the color wheel for better balance in a cinch.

The same is true for typography. Are you a fan of sans serifs instead of traditional serif fonts? Simply swap out the pre-designed serifs of the template with some great sans serif options like Arial, Helvetica, and Geneva.

You can create a unique look and feel in the template while embracing best practices

Templates allow you a lot of freedom to personalize and customize them. This is the designer’s chance to make a template stand out and align for whatever business or brand you’re designing it.

Customization is vital, but it shouldn’t sacrifice any widely accepted UX best practices. The beauty of a template is that best practices are already solved — things like content optimized for desktop, tablet, and smartphone; persistent navigation; and image resolution/load time. Branding such a site to meet your client’s needs is a natural, quick next step.

Here’s an idea of what’s possible in Muse.

In the My Name template, you can link pages together with the Dynamic Menu widget. Here’s how:

  1. In the site plan tab, rename any individual page.
  2. Move the order of the individual pages in the navigation menu.
  3. Double-click on any of the pages in the site to verify that the changes took effect.

For more information on this process, visit the My Name Starter Design explainer video page.

In another scenario, in the Altura template, you can preview and publish your template design while you’re working on it. Here’s how:

  1. At any time in the design process, click on File.
  2. Select Preview Page in Browser or Preview Site in Browser.
  3. Muse will automatically render all the CSS, JavaScript, and HTML and load it into your default browser.

For more information on this feature, visit the Altura Starter Design explainer video page.

They provide a leg up for learning the finer points of design

Templates are designed by designers and developers themselves, with many templates showcasing today’s hottest trends and design best practices. Working with templates is an excellent way to hone your understanding of design elements relative to webpage layouts.

Studying template layouts can inform your understanding of great design. By analyzing where the different page elements (images, headings, social media icons, etc.) in templates usually go, you’ll learn about design techniques like:

-White space
-Padding
-Clarity
-Typography
-Readability
-Legibility
-Minimalism
-Balance

You can use your template design skills to become an Adobe Stock contributor

Designers who are enterprising and who have a knack for creating within Muse’s platform have an opportunity to earn some extra money by selling their creative content on two websites.

The first is MuseThemes, a website that features templates and widgets created by designers for designers. Its products are Starter Designs or template starting points that already feature beautiful designs, so you don’t have to start creating from scratch.

The second is the Resources page of the Adobe Muse microsite. This is a repository of template-design resources that put designers in touch with brilliant and functional templates created by designers from the Muse community.

Designers who understand designing within templates have an opportunity to earn some extra money by selling creative content on Adobe Stock. To start, design a website template and create an Adobe ID to become a contributor to Stock.

Selling your templates on Stock is a great opportunity because you instantly have the world’s biggest creative community at your fingertips.

Here’s a detailed walkthrough of how to start this process. Then, sit back and observe your sales grow. The dashboard lets you keep track of all of your sales in real-time.

Future possibilities

Templates paired with tools like Adobe Muse have opened up more design and project opportunities for designers. They’ve taken the need for coding knowledge out of website building. Where the design process once took longer, templates ensure that sites can be up and running in half the time. This means designers can spend more time focusing on the finer points of design — like fonts, colors, layout, and content — while choosing a template that delivers an excellent user experience with its structure and responsiveness.

Kick start your next website design project with one of these free templates for Adobe Muse.

Topics: Creativity, Design

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