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Templates are pre-formatted samples for documents, containing the most important layout and design elements. They can be filled with graphical and textual content to create a finished document. As a predefined unit, a template forms the basis for the layout of documents, websites, brochures, or newspaper pages. Templates are usually designed in a way that allows users to quickly and easily enrich them with text, graphics, and other multimedia content. In addition to the classic application in text and graphics editing, templates are also used in software and web development, e.g. for building websites. In this case, a template is used as a layout model that the developer only has to fill with the appropriate content.

Where are templates used?

Templates are common in various fields of application, such as text documents, developer environments, or spreadsheets. They are useful whenever a specific type of document is needed regularly, for example in Microsoft Word. You can access a predefined layout and fill it with text and graphics without the need to create this layout from scratch every time. A template does not necessarily affect the entire structure of a document, but can also be used for individual passages and layout elements in order to adapt them specifically.

Another field that uses templates is software programming. Modern programming languages such as Java or C++ use templates to give the compiler that is translating the source code an explicit instruction as to how a method or class is to be generated. This has the advantage that when using a template to create methods and classes, you only need to change the input parameters and do not have to rewrite the entire class or method code.

Use of templates for web design

Similar to text documents, a template can be used in web design to provide web developers with prefabricated and changeable website frameworks with clearly defined layouts:

Website template

Screenshot with template examples of colorlib.com

Because a template allows you to change a website’s layout without modifying its content it is particularly useful for modern content management systems and e-commerce platforms, which are the foundation of many websites. Templates are usually written in HTML, PHP, and CSS, depending on the respective platform and are often created as separate modules in order to make them easy to handle for less experienced users. These modules typically include a large number of individual files that define the design and arrangement of the following elements of a website:

  • Pages and articles
  • Archive
  • Comments
  • Categories
  • Header, footer, and sidebar
  • Videos
  • Search

The exact format of a template depends primarily on the respective system, so differences in structure, layout, and function are possible. In addition, there are many different types of templates for web design, each created for specific usage scenarios, such as:

  • Magazine: template for news portals
  • Business: template for corporate websites with professional design and marketing opportunities
  • E-Commerce: template with online shop functionality

Most content management systems and e-commerce platforms allow you to install your chosen template directly on their platform and offer you the possibility to browse templates by design, structure, functional scope, and other criteria in order to find the most suitable one.

Advantages of templates

The biggest advantage of templates is that they are easy to use and thus can save you workload and costs. Most templates allow you to easily change the font, background colors, or menus, so that even less technically experienced users are able to create websites. However, if you want to make fundamental changes to a template and modify it so that it fits your individual and unique needs, you might need at least basic web design knowledge.

In addition, templates are often available for free or are at least cheaper than designing your website individually. However, there is no guarantee that a chosen predefined website layout is unique when using a template, as competitors might use the same one.

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