Templates are one of the most useful features of website builders. They allow you to quickly create a professional looking website without needing to design everything from scratch. Website builder templates provide pre-designed page layouts, color schemes, fonts, images, and more to give your site a cohesive look and feel. With just a few clicks, you can have a complete website up and running.
While templates make website creation easy, you still need to know how to fully utilize them to create a high-quality site. This article will provide tips and strategies to help you make the most of templates when using website builders.
Choosing the Right Template
With most website builders, you’ll have dozens if not hundreds of templates to choose from. The key is finding one that aligns with your brand, industry, and site goals. Consider these factors when selecting a template:
- Purpose – Is your site an online store, portfolio, blog, etc.? Choose a template designed for that specific purpose.
- Style – Opt for a template that reflects your desired look – modern, elegant, minimalist, etc. Stay consistent with your brand style.
- Industry – Some templates are tailored for specific industries like photography, restaurants, weddings, etc.
- Layout – Do you want a one-page site or multi-page? How many sections/pages do you need?
- Responsiveness – Be sure the template is mobile-friendly on all devices. Test it out on desktop and mobile.
Take your time browsing all the template options. Narrow down your selections by making a list of must-have features, then preview the templates to see which one best fits your criteria.
Customizing the Template
One of the advantages of templates is that while they provide the underlying structure, you can still customize them significantly. Here are some ways to adapt the template to fit your brand:
Colors – Most templates allow you to change colors like the background, text, headers, buttons, and more. Stay on brand by using your official brand and accent colors.
Fonts – Replace the default fonts with your brand fonts. Use the same ones consistently across headings, body text, etc.
Images – Some templates have generic stock images. Swap these out for ones that represent your products, services, team members, etc.
Sections – Modify template sections by adding, removing, or reordering them according to your needs.
Page Layout – Adjust the placement of elements on the page – logo, navigation, banners, etc.
Content – Of course, replace all filler text used in the template with your own branded content.
Minor tweaks like adjusting colors and fonts can make a big difference. But feel free to make major changes too by removing unnecessary template sections or adding new pages. Just be careful not to entirely stray from the core template structure.
Choosing the Right Elements
The template you select will come loaded with a variety of design elements like images, icons, shapes, animations, etc. Choose these elements strategically to enhance your brand identity and site usability:
- Images – Select high-quality, relevant photos and graphics. Images should reinforce your brand and content.
- Icons – Icons are a great way to visualize information and make pages more scannable. Choose icon styles and themes that fit your brand.
- Shapes – Use shapes and graphic elements sparingly. Simple, geometric shapes usually work best.
- Illustrations – Consider custom illustrations to infuse more personality and align with your brand style.
- Textures & Patterns – Use subtle, non-distracting textures and minimal patterns. Avoid anything too ornate or bold.
- Animations – Subtle animations can add interest but avoid anything excessive or distracting.
Carefully review every visual element in the template. Remove any extras you don’t need. Adding too many decorative elements can make your site feel cluttered and unprofessional.
Optimizing for SEO
While templates provide a solid starting point, you’ll need to optimize your site for search engine optimization (SEO). Here are some key optimizations to make:
- Descriptive page titles – Craft unique, descriptive titles for each page that include important keywords.
- Headings tags – Use heading tags (H1, H2, H3) properly to establish keyword hierarchy.
- Alt text – All images need descriptive alt text with keywords for SEO and accessibility.
- URL optimization – If possible, edit URLs to be keyword-rich and use hyphens to separate words.
- Content – Ensure your content is SEO-friendly by using keywords appropriately and formatting text for scannability.
- Site speed – Minimize large files, enable compression, and optimize images to keep site speed fast.
- Mobile optimization – Simplify layouts and text for mobile. Use responsive design and responsive images.
Take time to learn SEO best practices. Integrating those optimizations into your template site will help boost organic traffic.
Enhancing Site Functionality
While the template will provide core functions, you may need to enhance site functionality further to achieve your goals. Here are some tips:
- Strong call-to-action buttons – Use prominent, eye-catching CTAs to guide visitors to key pages and actions.
- Lead capture forms – Add forms to capture leads for email lists, consultations, etc. Offer lead magnets in exchange for contact information.
- Ecommerce capabilities – If selling products, utilize the builder’s ecommerce integrations or extensions for carts, payments, shipping, and more.
- Subscription and membership capabilities – Let customers sign up for subscriptions, memberships, appointments, events, and other offerings.
- Search functionality – Allow visitors to easily search your site content to find relevant information faster.
- Navigation menu – Use clear navigation menus and site architecture to help visitors move between pages and sections logically.
Prioritize the most important site functionality needs for your business goals and customers. Judiciously add key features that will maximize engagement and conversions.
Choosing the Right Plugins and Extensions
In addition to built-in features, website builders offer plugins and extensions to add advanced functionality. Here are some to consider:
- Forms – Enhance default form features with multi-page forms, condition logic, spam filtering, and integrations.
- Live Chat – Chat plugins let you interact with visitors in real-time to engage them.
- Appointment Scheduling – Let customers book appointments, classes, events, and more directly on your site.
- Newsletter Signup – Collect more email subscribers with optimized opt-in forms and email marketing integrations.
- Social Media Feeds – Automatically display your latest social content to foster engagement.
- Slideshows – Add slideshows and carousels for images, videos, testimonials, and other dynamic content.
- Contact Information – Plugins can display your phone number, email, location, and social links prominently across your site.
- Security – Security plugins provide firewall protection, malware scans, backups, and other key protections.
Do your research to find reputable plugins and extensions that seamlessly integrate with your website builder. Quality add-ons can significantly expand your capabilities.
Enhancing the Mobile Experience
Since most website traffic now comes from mobile devices, optimizing the mobile experience is crucial. Here are some best practices:
- Simplified layouts – Reduce clutter and simplify page layouts on mobile to improve scannability.
- Tap targets – Ensure buttons and touch targets are large enough for tapping on small screens.
- Mobile menus – Use an optimized drop-down or “hamburger” menu for navigation on mobile.
- Flexbox – Use Flexbox to intelligently rearrange elements for mobile views.
- Typography – Increase font size and spacing to make text more legible.
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – Implement Google’s AMP framework to optimize pages for mobile speed.
- Responsive design – Serve properly sized images for different devices and resize elements responsively.
- Landing page optimization – Create dedicated, streamlined mobile landing pages tailored for conversions.
Testing your site on actual mobile devices is important. Fix any issues with small text, spacing, load times, or calls-to-action that don’t work seamlessly on mobile.
Testing and Iterating
No template will be perfect right out of the gate. Once your site is live, test it extensively and collect feedback from users. Look for any pain points in the user experience and continue optimizing:
- Page speed tests – Test loading times regularly and improve speed.
- Form tests – Ensure forms are submitting properly and error-handling works.
- Broken links – Fix any broken internal or external links.
- Navigation testing – Click through every nav and menu item to ensure correct page linking.
- Cross-browser testing – Test on all major browsers to catch compatibility issues.
- User testing – Have real users evaluate your live site and provide improvement suggestions.
- Analytics review – Analyze visitor behavior via Google Analytics to optimize high-traffic pages.
- A/B testing – Try variations of key pages to determine which versions perform best.
Refine and revise your template website based on ongoing testing. Even small tweaks can add up to big improvements over time.
Leveraging templates in your website builder is one of the fastest ways to create a professional, functional site. With the right template selection and customizations, you can launch an effective site that achieves your business goals while maintaining your brand identity. Optimizing the site for SEO, mobile, security, speed, and conversions will maximize the impact of your template website. Use testing and analytics to continue refining the template until you have a high-converting site that excels at capturing your target audience. With strategic template implementation, anyone can turn their website vision into reality.