Joomla Templates and Theme DesignSite Redesign with Joomla is booming

Joomla Themes or Templates and Drupal vs Joomla Comparisons are rather popular topics and searches right now on twitter, google and in the blogosphere. Understandably since there are a lot of folks planning site redesigns and this is a logical time to question if you are using the right framework and what are my lowest costs

for getting a new graphic design that best represents my business online. I have explored the Joomla vs Drupal comparison in a couple other blog posts listed below so this article will explore the whole custom design vs prebuilt template issue.

Three key elements of a template

When I start this discussion about the graphic design options with customers looking to deploy a Joomla CMS site I try to explain the three key elements of Joomla template. Which are:

  1. The Graphics (design)
  2. Module positions (wire frames).
  3. Features and functionality (such as standards adherence, AJAX tools, unique modules, theme modifications etc.).

I also take them to Rocket Theme demos to explore the template designs  they have available. While there are a number of template developers out there the Rocket Themefolks are simply the best prepackaged template developers and they have the best documentation and forum support in the marketplace.

Custom vs Prebuilt where is the value and priority for your site?

We do design and build templates for Joomla and appreciate customers that see the value in having a custom design so we do not shy away from this business when budgets or the client brand warrants it. However, when building any CMS system where there is a lot of content and features or functionality to consider, I highly recommend working with a solid well built prebuilt template that can meet your taste and requirements, for a number of reasons:

  • The design process takes time and is often very subjective. This means everyone is going to have an opinion and it can often take a while for everyone to agree. In the mean time most of the other aspects of the site can be built while an in-depth creative design is being developed.
  • Using a template can allow you to significantly reduce the deployment time and allow you to get your site live quicker.
  • Most customers can not afford the level of development that goes into a robust full featured template with quality documentation. Documentation is key for ongoing maintenance.
  • Often a custom design is not required since we can brand and tweak a prebuilt template to meet most clients' needs. This frees up resources to allocate on areas of the site development that could have more value in the end to your customers. Perhaps investing more into training your team effectively to manage and develop content can give you more bang for your dollar. Depending on the scope of your project you also need to make sure you balance your resources throughout the entire life cycle so you have enough to complete priority features or marketing once the site is built.
  • Building a custom designed template and testing the template in multiple in multiple browsers is a significant project on its own. If you are building a site with any complexity it can be very helpful to isolate any potential issues. Such as if a layout with a component or module view is in the component code or caused by template CSS. Starting off with a template that has been thoroughly vented can save on development time hunting for and resolving bugs.

Joomla CMS let's you change your mind over time

If your project budget and brand identity require custom template development by picking prebuilt template that has a module position layout consistent with what you are going to need the custom template module positions could be modeled to match, making the transition to a custom template very efficient. The beauty of a Joomla framework is that you can always update and change the template design as your tastes, brands and customer requests evolve over time.

Another thing to consider that could save you a lot of money is that when you purchase a Rocket Theme,  for example, you get the Photoshop/Fireworks source files. These files are pre-sliced (layered images that are called into the template framework) for the template layout. If the graphics are all that you need to change the files can be output as "slices" once changes have been made to the graphics and provided you are careful not to change the "slices" these new graphic files can be integrated into your template directories with far less effort than trying to completely reinvent the wheel.

Build value through careful planning and setting priorities

One of the ways we offer considerable value to our customers is through careful evaluation of your needs so that we can help you determine the most cost effective way of achieving your goals and objectives. There are a lot of areas you can invest time and money into a Joomla CMS deployment . Our goal is to help give you the best information for making informed decisions about where you what to focus your priorities. Every project is different and thus each has its own unique considerations. The template considerations are the starting place for most projects since creative design is often the most subjective and because it sets the layout and style for which the functionality will be presented to your customers.