Thursday, January 17, 2008

Template Websites

There are a number of internet companies that provide template-based website that can be customized to a certain extent. The general advantage to using one of these sites is that you can change the images and text on your site at will, without having to rely on a web designer (which can get pricy and inconvenient).

Each of these website companies have their pros and cons, ranging from price to ease of use.

Livebooks: generally regarded as the high-end of template-based sites.

I recently bought a livebooks site. It should be finished in the next week or so. The advantage to Livebooks is their awesome customer service. They are available on the phone anytime. You can even visit the designer if you live close enough to their offices, like me (15min. away). They don't consider themselves a template-based web design company, but you can tell a Livebooks site the minute you see one.

They can customize the site within certain parameters. Before buying the site, I thought I would have more latitude than I got, but they have certain limitations because of the back-end edit suite. The edit suite is incredibly user-friendly. Your grandmother could figure out how to use it.

The drawback to Livebooks is of course the price. How can you get a discount? If you're a student, you're in luck. Get an edu version site, if you don't mind the edu logo on your site. I think it looks amateurish for a pro, but for a student, it's perfect. All it costs is $100/year and you get to use the $3200 template. What I did is get that option and then converted to a pro site immediately. That way I got 20% off and a 2 year financing plan to pay for my $1400 site ($50/mo) and 2 years of free hosting.


Then you have Bludomain. I just bought a template of theirs for $400, much cheaper than LB. It's when I started to put together my site tonight that I understood why LB was so much more expensive. BD is much more complicated. It will take some serious work to figure out. They do have good customer service, but as of right now, I have a billion questions. A couple of friends of mine figured it out after a while, so I know it's not too bad. Once you get your BD site put together, you can easily change the images and the text. So I'm not worried about it. It's the initial work that is a bit daunting.

Keep in mind that BD still has their sale going on. Half price on their templates, it's a great deal. Most of them are $400, but they have some awesome ones available for a measly $100, hard to beat. It was supposed to end Jan. 1st.

Not to be ignored: sites designed in Flash cannot be ranked well with search engines because they don't have html. BD sites are all flash-based, a big drawback. LB places a ghost html site behind their flash designs, which the search engines can pick up, hence providing you with a much stronger web presence.

Some other sites worth checking out:
Big Folio: They cost the same as BluDomain. Not sure what they're like. If you do, let me know.
FolioLink: I've heard good things about them. Nice designs, but a bit pricy over the long run in my opinion (min. $250/year).

I'll put up more options as soon as I find them. Let me know if you know of any.

Note: Kathryn pointed out that BD does have one template, 'Lucy,' with a ghost html site.

8 comments:

Alex Gauthier said...

Hmm... now i see why there are no comments. This is all messed up. Anyhow, your blog is pretty awesome so far, nice work. Have you had a chance to play with your bludomain site anymore? I'm seriously looking at it but have some concerns.

1. Can you make the music be off by default?
2. Can you make the slideshows be stopped by default?

I've been working on building my site myself but at bludomain's prices I'm thinking I'll just go this route so I can focus on taking pictures.

J Sandifer said...

Nice reporting Greg!

Greg Clarke said...

hi alex,

yeah thanks for the questions and comments. i realize the comments are messed up. i've been trying to find help to fix them, to no avail yet. i want the comments to be on the same page as the post.

as far as bludomain, it's yes to both questions. you're right about concentrating on what you're good at. sometimes we try to save money by doing it all ourselves and we cheat ourselves in the process.

Delegating out work that is not within our strengths is a smart way to run a business. that would be a good topic for a post! thanks alex.

Kathryn LeBoye Photography said...

Answer to Alex question, you have the option of not having music on your Bludomain site. Also Greg, Bludomain does have one template that is html, it is Lucy!!! They're adding another one soon. I'm not sure about the slideshow question. I'm very happy with my two bludomain sites. I bought two of George template. You can check them out at:

www.kathrynleboyephotography.com

and

www.studio656photography.com

If anybody has any questions please feel free to e-mail at
kathrynleboye@cox.net

Alex Gauthier said...

Thanks for that response, Kathryn. I'm still interested in this.

patrick said...

Thank for this great template... Hey, thanks for the link. I was looking for a good blogger template.... web application

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