Generate a template?
Consider for a minute how many reasons there are for having a website or blog. Obviously it is a wise idea for businesses that sell products because online purchasing can really boost a business. Service businesses should also have a website because people often do research before they hire someone and even use the Internet to locate someone in the first place. Both types frequently use blogs to give information to their customers and potential customers. The most recent increase in websites and blogs has little to do with business at all – it is ordinary everyday people that just feel they have something to say and share. With any of these reasons there are three main ways to get started – hire someone to build the website/blog, build it from scratch which takes knowledge of coding or use a template. Using a template is a great idea for those that want to keep things inexpensive yet do not have the knowledge to build from scratch. The following list is for those people – some are extremely easy to use and others have more flexibility. The choice will depend in part on the time one has to commit to the project.
1. Weebly: http://www.weebly.com/#home
Global Alexa Rating: 263
One of the easiest ways to get started with an affordable site. They offer three plan levels: Free – Includes enough tools to create a pretty decent website; Starter – A low $4/month fee adds custom branding options along with expanded site stats and premium support; Pro – The complete package with all their professional features for $8/month. Users can easily sign up with Facebook or set up an account right on the homepage of the site. A nice feature is the ability to use Weebly for your page as they offer a free subdomain for customers. Of course one can use their own domain as well. A site designed using Weebly will be accessible from computers, tablets and mobile devices. Weebly’s popularity stems from not only having hundreds of themes to choose from but plenty of customization tools to further individualize the end result.
Global Alexa Rating: 289
Another wildly popular choice for creating a unique website – in fact they claim to have over 38 million users! It is an easy site to navigate since the templates are well organized into categories such as Business, Music, Entertainment, Restaurant & Hospitality, Design, Photography, Facebook, Personal, Retail & Fashion and Creative Arts. Templates can also be selected from a list of new or most popular. If by chance one cannot find the template they want to start with they can also select a blank template. The options under blank template are Start from Scratch HTML, One Page Layout HTML, Top Navigation HTML, Long Website HTML, Portfolio layout HTML and Bottom Navigation HTML. There are plenty of templates available for free but users can also choose a premium plan for additional features such as free hosting, premium support and Google Analytics.. Premium plans range from $4.08 per month to $24.90 per month. All premium plans offer a yearly savings plan.
3. Hongkiate.Com: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/50-most-beautiful-blogger-templates/
Global Alexa Rating: 1,016
While not a template builder this site is has links to 50 very beautiful blogger templates that are already laid out and ready to download. The list includes both a demo link and a download link making for a real time saver should you find yourself liking one of these ready made blogger templates. There are plenty of other tools and links on this website also including icon sets and wallpapers. The How-to section has plenty of tips and tutorials. There are plenty of useful articles that can help someone better understand the world of web design and blogging. The Inspiration tab is also very helpful at jump starting that creativity gene.
4. Artisteer: http://www.artisteer.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 5,954
Artisteer is a web design tool that you download to your computer to use. The download is a trial mode which does not support saving web design projects but they can be created and exported as HTML, theme, template or skin. Once a user has evaluated the free product trial they can purchase either the Standard Edition (currently $129.95) or the Home & Academic Edition (currently $49.95). The website gives a chart regarding which features are available in each edition. The purchase includes free upgrades for 1 year at which time users can pay a renewal fee to continue getting upgrades or simply use the program without any further upgrades. There are plenty of instructional documents available for how to create specific templates and themes such as Joomia!, Drupal, WordPress and Tublr Themes.
5. IM-Creator.Com: http://imcreator.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 24,960
This site uses a drag & drop website editor to easily add videos, pictures, maps and text. It is free to create a website with IM Creator but to actually publish it users must upgrade to a premium account. A premium account includes unlimited templates, a customized email account and unlimited hosting. Users can choose a biannual payment, yearly payment, 2-year payment or 3-year payment. The longer time periods reduce the cost per month by 20%, 30% and 40% respectively. They also offer a Pro plan that allows for multiple domains which is designed for professional web designers and resellers. Users start by choosing a template, starting from a blank or even editing an existing website.
6. WordPress Theme Generator: http://www.yvoschaap.com/wpthemegen/
Global Alexa Rating: 92,264
This online generator allows users to create custom unique WordPress themes. Although users do not need to have knowledge of HTML, JS, PHP or CSS the site is a bit less user friendly than some other template generators. It is an older tool and stopped receiving active support in August 2012 but a number of designers still love using it. For those that don’t have the time to deal with a bit of a learning curve this might not be the best choice but keep in mind that once learned it allows users to create a unique WordPress theme within minutes. It supports WordPress 2.1 to 3.7 themes and it supports widgets and tags.
7. doTemplate: http://www.dotemplate.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 131,117
Currently doTemplate is a completely free (although donations are being accepted) catalog of Web templates that can easily be customized and downloaded. At the moment they are still adding templates and at some point in the future expect to offer premium templates and options that will involve a fee of some sort. Although there are only about 20 templates so far this is a site to keep an eye on. The website has a demo to show how easily it is to customize one of the templates. This is all done online with no programs to be downloaded. Users that find and use a template should consider sending a donation as that will keep this valuable tool around and support its growth into something even more useful.
8. Pimp-My-Profile.Com: http://www.pimp-my-profile.com/blogger-templates/
Global Alexa Rating: 160,009
This site is a decent tool for a variety of ways to have an online presence so it can be helpful to those looking for more than one type of editor. Once a template is found in one editor it can be converted into others so that the same look can be attained across the board. This site is not the easiest to figure out how to navigate at first so allow time to figure it out. With over 20,000 blogger templates and the ability to edit them it is worth a look. It is also a fun site to spend some time on because of a section called Funny Pics that includes really hilarious pics and animations. They also accept graphics from members – a useful way to upload your own images and then apply effects to them.
9. Cool Template: http://cooltemplate.com/
Global Alexa Rating: 212,182
Cool Template is a free online template generator that is relatively easy to use. Users begin by selecting one of four different types: HTML Template, WordPress theme for blogging, Joomla! Template or Microsoft ASP.net Master Page. Users can choose from over 60 different color schemes or create their own. One can also upload custom page backgrounds, textures or a logo. Not a lot of bells and whistles with this one but it is easy to use without a huge learning curve. This is one of the few that has an option for Microsoft ASP.net master page building which is a framework for building sites using C# or Visual Basic.
10. sKIn gEnerator beta: http://www.skingenerator.com/Home.aspx
Global Alexa Rating: 790,790
This is a web-based skin generator that has a number of different presets that can be tweaked and downloaded. This is another one that has ASP.net capability and also offers DotNetNuke (DNN) and JQuery as well. Add on HTML, Blogger, Joomla and WordPress and you have a pretty complete offering of templates. It may not have the extensive library of templates that other sites have but its ability to generate advanced custom images based on user preferred schemes is a bonus worth looking at.
This up-to-date list of popular template generator sites and programs should prove to be helpful for those looking for an easy way to get their business, hobby or even a family page or blog up and running quickly. When it becomes this easy it is no wonder so many people find themselves using the Internet for more than just browsing and connecting with social media. These tools take someone from being a spectator to getting in the game!