Web Designers Beware!
As a web designer, I have a personal interest in a new trend which threatens to put me and my kind out of business. That “threat” is Web Design Templates. In short they are ready-made web design products which can be used as a basis for a fast and high-quality website. You usually receive a Photoshop file (.psd), Flash file (.fla), HTML files with your tables and initial scripting already complete, fonts, sounds and anything else which may be part of the website design.
A couple of years ago these templates were a small issue in the world of design. Most of them were of minimal quality and there were not all that many out there. Now some of the “big players” like BG Website Templates ( http://www.bg-website-templates.com ), are supplying spectacular designs which include 3D animated Flash, multimedia and dynamic programming for prices comparable to dinner out.
Many of these templates rival even the best custom designer's work. So how can we (the humble designer) survive?My first suggestion is to “aim high”. By that I mean start targeting a “higher end” clientele. Most companies of any size will not want to have a website design which may well be found on dozens of other websites around the world. These templates, while very impressive, are still templates. They still require the knowledge and skills of a professional for them to function to their full potential. So consider promoting your customization skills to those clients who are looking for a low cost solution. You can still make a pretty profit on the website and you'll get it done much faster. Another advantage to this method is that the client has already chosen a design, so the process of “back and forth” designing is removed. Finally, you may choose to directly promote templates on your own website.
You may feel that you're cutting your own wrists, but as mentioned before, the clients who wish to use a template most likely didn't want to spend the money for your custom work anyway. Once you've saved them money on design work by selling them a template, you have a much better chance of upgrading their order with add-ons like chat rooms, help desks and newsletters. In the end you may end up coming out ahead. Whether or not our careers as designers will survive this competition remains to be seen; but in the meantime it doesn't hurt to at least become familiar with web templates. Knowing your competition is key to success.