Over the next few weeks we'll be giving you some insights into how Joomla templates work and how to create your own template. If this seems too advanced, don't worry because these topics will only appear every second week.
So, what options are available?
What’s great about free templates? Well, they’re free. They are also very abundant. You really do have quite a lot to choose from. If you don’t like a certain template after using it for a bit, ditching it doesn’t mean any loss in investment aside from time. Free templates also give you some good experience using different developers’ work. There are sometimes idiosyncrasies that you have to work around, and figuring this out without spending money is a good thing.
Free Joomla 1.7 template by Theme Republic
On the downside of free templates, you have the obvious quality issues. There are most definitely some very decent free templates out there that are even suitable for a small to medium production website; however, the majority of free templates are very basic or sometimes even buggy. Realize that developers often use free templates to draw in customers to their paid site or club subscriptions. This is fine, and it’s a great service if you’re able to use a decent template in exchange for a little marketing on the developer’s part. Just realize that most of their energy is probably spent making the commercial templates the best that they can be, not the free ones.
Some developers will require that you leave a link back to their website included somewhere on your site if you use their free templates. Find this out before you build your site, and make sure you’re OK with including this link.
Just because a template costs money, doesn’t mean that it works and looks better or is more stable and safe. The main consideration here is definitely the developer, not how much or little the template costs. Do some research on the developer or company that you intend to purchase from.
There is a wide variety in the look and feel of each template developer’s offerings, but another thing to consider is what different functionality they focus on in their templates. For instance, some developers spend a good amount of resources integrating eCommerce platforms like VirtueMart, while others are very good at media integration.
The other thing to consider is the framework each developer uses, if any. RocketTheme has developed Gantry
and JoomlaBamboo uses Zen Grid
are some of the others to check out. A template framework should make administering the site template easier without requiring a Ph.D. to learn. You can usually get a glimpse at them without having to purchase a template to do so.
If you are already developing your own websites, then some of your current tools may have Joomla integration that you may or may not be aware of. For instance, beginning with Dreamweaver CS5
(and 5.5) has some direct integration with CMS systems, including Joomla. So if you’ve been using this program for some time, you may be able to learn this method of creating or modifying Joomla templates relatively quickly, especially if you’re already familiar with connecting Dreamweaver to local and remote sites.
There are also other web development tools like Artisteer
and Microsoft WebMatrix
that are gaining popularity. It’s particularly interesting to see Microsoft getting involved in open source products.
You can always just design your own template too. If you have design skills, but lack the programming skills to complete the job on your own, there are loads of contractors out there these days that can code it for you at a reasonable rate.
If you already have HTML/CSS and some basic PHP skills, you can always learn how to create your own Joomla templates, especially if you have a good eye for design and know how to use web design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator. Starting with a framework can even accelerate the process for development if you have a good head start with the tech know how.
In two weeks, we will teach you the basic Joomla template structure. So if this last option sounds intriguing to you, you will want to stay tuned for sure.
Don't miss next week when we start to explain how to profit as a Joomla developer. You won't want to miss this!