How to choose a website template: 5 top tips

Person working on laptop in kitchen
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you are using one of the best website builders or building your website from scratch, templates can speed up the web design process and help you create a high impact website. 

In the sea of free and paid website templates available online, picking the right one can be quite challenging. After all, a website template will be the general style and design of your online presentation; therefore, getting it right carries a lot of weight. 

Obviously, you want to choose the perfect template to create a digital space that truly reflects your brand and helps you engage your audience. So, we have put together our top five top tips, helping you navigate the maze of website templates. 

We’ve scoured the web, analyzed the trends, and dissected insights from experts to distill the five best tips available for choosing the perfect website template. So whether you’re launching your first website, looking to refresh your existing web presentation, or something in between, we’re here to take away the guesswork and help you make a more informed decision.

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1. Consider your brand image

Your brand is your identity, and in the world of website templates the most common mistake that small businesses make is choosing elaborate templates that don’t align with their brand. 

Sure, snazzy templates may look great, but they will also require a lot of customization work to make it your own, and you may still be “off-brand,” resulting in a sloppy presentation. This is why you should go with a template that complements your brand. Think about your brand colors, fonts, style, and overall tone when picking a template. For example, a slick luxurious brand is unlikely to pick a bright, crowded template for their website. 

A great idea is to take inspiration from other well-branded websites, such as Nike. Nike’s website is not just visually appealing; it is also “on brand,” meaning that it resonates with the company’s personality.


Nike uses large images to help communicate it's brand. (Image credit: Nike)

Another great example is Apple’s website, which aligns with its brand perfectly, thus creating a seamless experience for visitors. Moreover, a well-branded website is a step toward building trust and credibility.


Apple takes a minimalist approach, helping them make a big impact with their imagery.  (Image credit: Apple)

Both of the example websites follow simple design principles, which you can also follow to help you adjust templates to meet your needs. If you’re looking for more tips on how to best design your website to meet your customer needs, check out our top 10 tips to get your website design spot on.

2. Think about the user journey

Let’s pretend that you just entered a store, and are having a hard time locating what you want, since the store is set up like a maze. Probably frustrating, right? 

The same thing goes for your website. If the user journey is not smooth, you will struggle to keep visitors engaged and call them your customers. Take the time therefore to understand the expectations your audience has and the behaviors they may exhibit when navigating your website. Next, you should opt for a template that enhances, rather than hinders, the user journey on your website. 

Refer back to the above examples of websites that are “well-branded” and take a page out of their book. Clear navigation, user-friendly layouts and a simple, yet intuitive structure that helps users find information, products, or services. This will ensure users stick around and you end up converting them into paying customers.

3. Ensure your template is SEO friendly

Visibility on search engines will make or break your website, simple as that! 

Choosing an SEO friendly template will ensure your loading times are up to standard, and that the site presents well whether users view it on mobile or desktop. Finding well-coded, organized, and highly-optimized website templates will pay dividends later on, once your website starts popping up high in search rankings, so make sure to do the work beforehand.

4. Align with your business goals

If you are more aesthetically inclined, you may focus too much on all the bells and whistles a website template offers. We’re here to tell you that you should focus on the end result first and visual appeal second. 

Sure, website look and feel is important, but your business goal is why you’re creating it in the first place. For example, if you’re looking to sell something, then the template should help you accomplish this. 

All in all, your website is a powerful tool that helps you achieve your goals, therefore the template you choose should do the work for you. A company website should inspire confidence and expertise, an e-commerce site should highlight items and have great search options, a children’s website should be vibrant and colorful. All of these elements will help you determine which template you should go for, and then work on aesthetics.

5. Pick with your audience in mind

This last tip aligns nicely with the previous one, where you will think about aligning the template with what your visitors are looking for. Understanding your audience will be the secret sauce that will make your website stand out, and bring in more revenue at the end of the day. 

When picking a website template consider demographics, customer interests, and online behavior. You can start by asking yourself: “How can my chosen template help visitors find what they’re looking for?”. 

Thinking about colors, forms, fonts, and website structure will help you align all of them in accordance with your audience’s preferences. 

You can also utilize neuroscientific research to support your approach when aligning colors and shapes on your website with your target audience. Finally, if you haven't already developed detailed insight into your audience, you can opt for a template that offers a variety of styles, which you can switch to test out response rates.

Picking a template for your website: Summary

There it is! All five quick tips will help you choose the best template possible and make it your own. To summarize, consider your brand image, prioritize the user journey, ensure SEO friendliness, align with your business goals, and always keep your audience in mind. Armed with these tips, you will be more confident to dive into the world of website templates. 

Now you know what to look for, check out our list of the best website template resources to find your perfect template. 

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.

With contributions from