This is a common practise that really, really annoys me. You see somebody advertising themselves as a web designer, and when you visit their website you find yourself impressed. It’s smart, slick, beautifully designed. But something doesn’t add up, and on closer inspection you soon discover they are simply using a template. Not only are they using a template, but they haven’t even changed it, not in the slightest.
There are occasions where templates are OK. If you are primarily a developer, not a designer, and you advertise yourself as such, you may use a template for your website because you don’t design. This is fine, because you’re not selling yourself as a designer, so you’re not misleading anybody.
But if you are advertising yourself as a web designer, using a template that is not your own work, to sell your work, is deception and dishonesty of the absolute highest level. Here’s a simple analogy. I decide one day I’d like to be an artist. I buy a gallery, and buy a load of Picasso’s, putting them up around the gallery next to signs which advertise myself as an artist. I’m sure you would agree, most people would be pretty pissed off if they then bought a picture off me only to discover that it’s a few scribbles on a page, and it isn’t a Picasso.
There are occasions where, even as a web designer, you may use a template. A client may not have much to spend and a template is the quickest solution. You may not have time yourself to design your website from scratch. But the important thing here is that you are honest about it. If you use a template, make it clear that you have done so, and make it clear that it is not your work.
Here is a classic example:
As you can see, despite the former link advertising themselves as web designers, their own website is simply a template. Therefore, I feel they are misleading customers into believing their work is better than it likely is.
The bottom line is, if you are a respectable web designer, your own website should be your own design.