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Examples of website templates being:

(If there's a popular source I'm missing, please comment. Thanks!)

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themeforest.net is another one you might add to the list. –  Virtuosi Media Oct 20 '10 at 5:56
    
@themeforest.net: Thanks, just add themeforest.net to the list! –  blunders Oct 20 '10 at 11:30
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I haven't bought templates before, but if I were to buy a template, I'd do something like the following process:

  • Figure out my site's objectives.
  • Research my target market.
  • Look at other sites in the same industry/niche.
  • Weed out templates that have been used too many times, especially any used by competition.
  • Choose the 2-3 templates that will best be able to accomplish the site's objectives while appealing to the target market. Depending on your strategy and/or niche, you may or may not want it to be like other sites in the same niche.
  • Do a quick test by showing people in my target market which template appeals to them, which would be easiest to use, which would entice them to fulfill the objectives while they're on the site, and so on...Have them rate each question for each template on a scale of 1-5 and then add up your points. You shouldn't need more than 4-5 people.
  • Try to buy a exclusive rights for the template so it can't be resold from that point forward.
  • If I find some templates I like, but nothing quite suits the site, I'd contact template authors that I feel could do a good job based on their other work and ask them to create a custom template.
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@Virtuosi_Media: Nice answer, thanks! -- Question, how would you contact, or find contact info for the template authors? Most the time it's just a username as far as I'm able to tell. –  blunders Oct 20 '10 at 11:32
    
If you're going to buy exclusive rights for a template anyway, I highly advise you to just hire a professional designer or full-service web development firm to create a custom design for you. It'll be cheaper and of higher quality. $2700+ for the kind of designs on those sites is a complete rip-off. You can get a full site with a far superior design for less than that (shop for a good designer who builds sites using an open source CMS). –  Lèse majesté Oct 20 '10 at 11:44
    
@Lèse majesté - That's a very good point. @blunders - It might not be possible to contact the author in every case. You could try Googling the username or contacting the template site to see if they could put you in contact with the author. –  Virtuosi Media Oct 20 '10 at 17:39
    
@Lèse majesté: Agree, find it hard to believe someone would pay more that $100 for a stock template. In fact, I've never bought one, but have used free templates for OS-CMS systems, and was very happy with the results after I updated them for my needs. –  blunders Oct 20 '10 at 20:59
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I choose my three or four favourite, and show them to people:

  1. Whose opinion I respect
  2. Who know about the business/product the website is for
  3. Who are not scared to tell me that all my choices suck

Mainly because after you've spent hour after hour staring at a million generic templates, it's easy to get lost and lose sight of the bigger picture. Also, if you spent 2 hours staring a sucky templates, the one that seems the least sucky tends to register as really good in your mind, when in fact it's still pretty sucky.

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@Farseeker: Agree. It's really hard to know how people will really react, but at the same rate how they react is influenced by the request for a reaction... :-) ...oh, well. –  blunders Oct 20 '10 at 3:03
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