One of the most common complaints from website users and designers alike is the “boring template” effect. However great the business content, the site looks like a dull, unimaginative wasteland. That’s not good business or good marketing. Ironically, one of the best methods for a template comes from things like business card printing– Use of elements in design on several levels.
The boring template problems

The “corporate website look” is notorious. Typically, it’s two colors, usually pastel. These are soft color schemes, not particularly interesting of themselves. Then there’s the font problem. Small font is a true turn off, but so many sites have 8 point font or less.

As a description of an uninspiring spectacle, there’s not much missing, is there? The occasional additional totally irrelevant photo of people in suits smiling at the viewer is at best a debatable benefit. If you work in an office environment, people in suits may look even less attractive.

A bit of very basic analysis:

  • Bland color schemes simply don’t get noticed. You don’t need a garish horror for a web page either, but you do need identity. A template should be something which can work with a brand image.
  • The small fonts are usually used to cram in information overload, anyway. It becomes non-information, and takes up space which could be used for more productive current materials. A landing page needs to introduce and tell you what’s on the site, and that’s it. More isn’t better.
  • The pictures of people in suits are wastes of space. They can be used for product images, logos, or functional business images. Passive sell is a lot better than no sell at all.

The “business card” approach

If you look at some of the major online business card sellers like Vista, they approach their presentation issues, which are quite similar to template issues, very differently:

  • They emphasize flexibility of design

  • They actively encourage use of more design elements

  • They don’t confine their choices to oversimplified structures

  • They allow for original content elements in designs

Makes sense, doesn’t it? In short, they provide themselves with all the materials required to provide a good working concept.

This is good business sense for templates, too:

  • Flexible design structures are a lot easier to work with, particularly over time, with new content coming in on the page.

  • More design elements allows better design decisions. Inclusion of elements in context with design is basic practice. The “blah” templates don’t even allow that.

  • Oversimplification lacks the benefits of simple structures. Imagine a chessboard design, with no options. Your entire graphic selection, colors, and page elements would be cursed with the design restrictions.

  • Original content, particularly visual content, is critical to marketing. These standout features are the character element, the identity of the page.

The verdict

Forget about “blah” template concepts. The more creative your template, the better. The template has to attract viewers, create interest and promote the business. Nothing less will do.

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