- Written by Chris Nielsen
A Joomla template is a package of design elements and a framework/outline or "Wireframe" for placing content and wrapping it with design elements on your Joomla CMS web site. Template packages are installed from the back end of Joomla. Some designers with tech savvy skills like to build these packages themselves but most folks find it far less expensive to use or modify a pre built template package from a 3rd party vendor. Most of these templates are very well designed and super flexible for adapting to your design goals. They also tend to be better maintained and more secure and much easier to maintain over time.
When it comes to finding the right Joomla template for your website goals, there are a number of things you should always take into account. It is important to consider the content placement options, availability of source graphics and the quality of their tutorial information when reviewing template designs.
Decide on What You Want
Before starting your search, it is important that you already have in mind a vision that you're aiming for your website. Settle on the color motifs, functionality, and specific genre that reflect your business aims and then shortlist a number of templates based on that. It would also be a good idea to look at your competitors' sites, this way, you can position yourself competently and avoid having a similar appearance to theirs, since the key for thriving in any industry is to differentiate yourself. Let this guide you when picking your template but remain flexible so you are only expecting the priority elements because if you can leverage features in a template right out of the box vs getting too deep in customizations, it will save you time, money and a lot of frustration down the road
Using Premium Templates is the right choice
Knowing your options and having a clear set of priorities is essential to picking the right template. You can search google and find many options for free templates but while some of them may look pretty, we do not recommend free template collections because they do not offer the ease of use, security or maintenance required for long term life support of your web site.
We recommend that you only work with premium Joomla templates. There are many great vendors in the Joomla marketplace but we tend to prefer YooTheme and RocketTheme because they provide a nice variety of choices, are well thought out for flexability and they are easy for us and our clients to use. Both catalogs have rich features, powerful frameworks, easy to follow tutorials with sample content, world class design elements and their support and maintenance are fantastic. We believe in them so much that we actually offer the entire catalogs or Rocket Theme and Yoo Theme FREE to our customers as part of our service agreements. 15 other great vendors, in no particular order, worth reviewing are listed below;
- Joomlart: http://www.joomlart.com
- Bang2Joom: http://www.bang2joom.com/
- shape5: http://www.shape5.com
- youjoomla: http://www.youjoomla.com
- JoomlaBambo: http://www.joomlabamboo.com/
- Joomlashack: http://www.joomlashack.com
- Gavickpro: https://www.gavick.com/
- Joostrap: http://joostrap.com/
- Joomlage: http://www.joomlage.com/
- Joomla51: http://www.joomla51.com/
- Joomlashaper: http://www.joomshaper.com
- Joomlashine: http://www.joomlashine.com/
- Joomlaxtc: http://www.joomlaxtc.com
- Joomlaplates: http://www.joomlaplates.com
- Templaza: http://www.templaza.com/joomla-templates
One of the most compelling reasons to use a template vendor is the need for responsive design. That simply means "responsive" to mobile devices such as tablets and cell phones. This is a relatively new trend but worth it's weight in gold to reach your online users from whatever device they may be using. Many of the new templates will support this out of the box. Testing for the more that 2000 devices in the market these days could very time consuming and not only requires specialised skills but in most cases is cost prohibitive for small businesses and organizations.
Most have a lot of deep feature sets to help their templates stand out so make sure any of the features that catch your eye can be easily implemented by you or your support team. Make sure you take the time to review and learn how to use the prebuilt features in the particular template you choose. Even if you do not configure this yourself it will help you communicate better with your support vender and in the end help you get more out of your technology investment.
Performance and Priorities
Prior to installing a template on your site, it would be a good practice to test the demo and review the documentation first. Just like most other products you would buy off the shelf, don't take it home without checking out a few things first or reviewing customer testimonials and specs. Consider how it will adapt to your preferred design priorities and the primary devices you are targeting. Is it responsive? How are the page loads? Do they have easy to follow tutorials? Do all its claimed functionalities work? More importantly, you might also want to get a feedback from people you trust just to make sure that the template is in line with what you've envisioned so far for your business. Some templates are specialized for extensions like JomSocial and Kunena. I have found when testing some of them, while they look sexy and clean they load incredibly slow and slow page loads will lose more users than a groovy design will attract new ones.
Joomla has the best options for template design
As someone that gets to mingle with many of these folks building these great template collections, I hear the inside scoop on how difficult is can be sometimes to build templates for WP or Drupal in comparison to building Joomla templates. What this means is that you are going to get better support, have more flexibility and lower costs by working with Joomla. The Joomla Community is also building a new portal for Joomla templat builders much like the Joomla Extensions Directory and as this comes together you are going to see even more options in the marketplace, thus improving your selection and the competition will drive vendors to make event richer features and easier to use and understand tools for presenting your content through their template designs and frameworks.