So you’re looking to buy a website template to make your website DIYing a boatload easier, but aren’t exactly sure what you should be looking for?
Well, you’re in the right place!
First, I want to applaud you for taking the time to research what to look for in a website template.
Perhaps you have yet to purchase a website template, or maybe you did purchase one and it wasn’t at all what you were looking for and now you feel like you’re back to square one (ugh!)…
Either way, I’m here to empower YOU with a simple but thorough list of things you MUST look for before purchasing a website template, so that your next website template purchase can be your LAST!
So let’s get to it, because you’ve got a website to launch!
1. The website template is compatible with the specific platform you want to use
With a variety of website platforms available such as WordPress, Squarespace, ShowIt, and more… it is SO, so important before purchasing to be sure that the template you want is compatible with the platform you want to use.
Website templates built for one platform CANNOT be used on a different platform. They simply won’t work, and there is no workaround.
So if you want your website to be built on WordPress, you need to purchase a template that is designed specifically for use with WordPress.
Generally, website templates will specify what platform they’re designed for either in the title or in the description. However, if you’re not certain what platform it’s built for, you can simply email the shop owner and ask.
Make sure before you purchase that you choose which platform you want to use, so you know your template is compatible with it.
To further emphasize the importance of this – a website template is considered a “digital product”, which means that once you’ve purchased it, there’s no actual way for you to “return” it. Due to this, many shops will not refund you for your purchase if you purchase the wrong template, because of the digital nature of the product.
So, be sure to double check that your template is compatible with your desired website platform before you click that Buy Now button.
2. The website template includes step-by-step video tutorials
This one’s a biggie!
Move this to the top of your must-have list: Your website template MUST have step-by-step tutorials! Must, must, must!!
While website templates ARE a huge time saver and require far less technical knowledge than if you built your website from scratch, they still require a bit of hands-on work from you in order to install the template and customize the pages.
But without easy-to-follow video tutorials, how will you know how the heck to even use the thing once you’ve got it?!
The whole point of using a website template (aside from cost savings) is generally to avoid the tech headache associated with making a website. So if your template doesn’t come with tutorials showing you EXACTLY how to install your template and how to make customizations like changing your images, colors, and text – don’t buy it! You’ll only be buying yourself a future headache.
3. There is a live demo site you can preview
While I suppose this one isn’t a firm requirement, I personally am someone who likes to get a true feel for something before I buy it.
What is a live demo site?
A live demo site is a real-life, functioning version of the website template that you can actually scroll through and click around in.
Ideally, if your potential template shop has live demo sites, they’ll be linked on the template’s product page within the shop, with a button that says something like “Live Demo” or “Demo Website”.
The ability to preview a live demo is nice for two reasons:
- So you know what the website will look like in real life, as opposed to just in screenshots.
- So you can see what the website will look like on different devices, like your phone.
There’s something substantially different about a website “in real life” than in a static screenshot image. So having the ability to “test drive” a sample version of your website ahead of time is definitely a nice perk.
In regards to the second bullet point above – it’s certainly great if your website looks fabulous on a laptop, but with so many people surfing the web on their phone these days, you want to ensure that your website template is going to look fab on BOTH a laptop and on peoples’ mobile devices.
Plus, live demo sites are fun to play around on!
4. Template Support is available
While a good website template should ideally be designed in a way that doesn’t require you to seek help from Support, having the option to reach out if something goes wrong can be a huge peace-of-mind.
Life happens, and technology can be a nasty B sometimes…
Whether your file accidentally corrupted during download, you accidentally deleted an entire page of your template, or you can’t figure out why the heck this one color won’t change – THE person who’s generally best suited to help you out, is your template designer and/or their Support Team.
So before ya purchase, do a quick double check to make sure your template creator offers some level of Support, just in case!
EXTRAS: The template comes with additional website resources (not required, but a huge bonus to have!)
Consider this one an “extra” or a really good bonus-sign.
If your template comes with “extras”, you’re probably in really good hands!
Obviously your website template should come with the files to install the physical template, but once your template is installed you actually have to customize the thing. This means you need to swap in your own pictures and your own words!
If you’re like most people, the idea of choosing your website images and writing your website words might make ya break a lil nervous sweat 😅. And rightfully so…
After all, your website images and words are a HUGE part of your website, and with a template, choosing your images and writing your words are totally up to YOU to do!
The nice thing about hiring a website designer to work with you on a website is that they’re usually experts at where to find the best quality images, or how to prep your images for a website (maybe you didn’t even know that image prep and optimization was even a thing…😬).
But obviously when you buy a website template, you’re opting NOT to work with a professional, and could potentially lose out on the expertise this person has to provide. Bummer…
Fortunately, some website template creators will include extra bonus materials with their templates! Things such as tips or resources for sourcing stock images, optimizing images, writing your website words, or a pre-launch checklist can end up being highly valuable and huge time-savers when it comes to the actual customization of your template, and putting the final touches on the site!
So if you’re lucky enough to stumble across a website template that you absolutely adore AND it comes with extra bonuses, you my friend, have found a winner! Consider that a great sign that YOUR template designer truly wants you to succeed, and isn’t just cranking out crappy templates to make a quick buck.
Your Website Template Must-Have Checklist
Let’s put all the must-haves in one quick-to-reference list.
When you’re looking to purchase a website template for your (finally!) creating your website, be sure:
- The template is compatible with the specific website platform you want to use,
- The template includes step-by-step video tutorials to help with installation and customization,
- You can preview a live demo site of the template,
- Template Support is available (just in case!),
- EXTRAS: The template comes with additional website resources/bonuses/extras! (optional)