So you want to use a template instead of original design?

So you want to use a template instead of original design?

First, let me admit, if you scan the various template sites, whether for web or print, you’ll find a bevy of impressive stuff - many are truly beautiful designs. However, it’s easy to create something beautiful when there are no parameters or constraints. Templates are more art than design, since the creator is free to design as they please - without limits.

There are two disadvantages with using a template

First, obviously, templates aren’t generally exclusive. So your wonderful new brochure or website may look identical or very similar to someone else’s - and they might be a competitor. Second, when you choose a template, you then generally have to shoehorn your content into it. Or at the very least write to fit the space - or you venture off into the world of customization or “eek” new design based on the template. By choosing to use a template, you’re immediately settling and accepting it’s limitations.

But of course I’m an advocate of new design

Sure, I’ll admit it, I’m a designer – of course I want to do something original. But I’m not above using a template. We’ve used them when directed to or when it’s the smart choice. But we ALWAYS customize them to try to make them a little bit unique. But moreover, we start by outlining our design goals, then evaluate any template against what we need it to accomplish - and gauge how much we’ll have to adapt it to serve us - not the other way around. So we use templates a little bit differently than non-designers.

But a template is cheaper!

It might be more affordable if you’re willing to compromise to use it - we aren’t. So we generally create a hybrid of template and original design. The template may be the jumping off point - a source for the client to identify what they like visually - but we then change it as necessary.

Which brings me back to my point. Since graphic design is the process of combining visuals and copy so the resulting design persuades and elicits a desired response or action, it’s not smart to choose a template – because it looks nice – at the expense of your final objective. If you start off by prioritizing the visual and are then forced to wedge your words into a template, you’ll end up with a lesser final design. It may look nice, it may have been affordable, but it won’t be as effective as it could have been. And that’s a template for disaster.

May 30, 2013

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