Free Web Site Templates

Update: Pretty as a Picture has a smaller collection of templates, most (all?) of which are available on the two larger sites below. Means you don't have to search through the crap to find the good stuff though.

Recently, I came across Open Source Web Design and Open Web Design - two sites that showcase web site templates that are completely free for commercial or non-commercial use.

Some of the templates are really good, particularly those by Andreas Viklund. Here are a few samples that caught my eye:

Is it Ethical to Use Templates?

I receive quite a few requests from people looking for a web site or a site redesign and 99% of the time I turn them down, mainly because I don't have enough spare time to take on the extra work.

I'm also aware that these requests largely come from individuals and smaller companies, who don't typically have the budget that I would charge. They have no concept of the amount of work that goes into designing and building a web site, and so are floored when I provide them with a quote that's way above what they expected.

However, if I let them pick a template from one of these sites, which I then customized and built out, I could charge a lot less because the time and effort involved would be greatly reduced. Not having to come up with the initial design and template would make the whole process much simpler and quicker.

I feel there's some sort of ethical dilemma here though, and that I should be designing my sites from scratch rather than building on (stealing?) other people's work. Or am I just being too picky?

If you have any thoughts on this subject I'd be interested to know what you think.

Posted on: February 13, 2006 | 2 Comments

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2 Comments Posted

I don't really see a problem using templates for clients with limited budgets if this is explained to the client. Additionally, in some cases the template may become so customised that it would be unrecognisable as the original. A template could equally be regarded as a starting point for discussion of ideas.

Clive - I am inclined to agree as long as, like you said, this is explained to the client upfront.

Infact, I do like the idea of presenting a selection of the best templates and telling them to pick one - that sure would make the initial design process easier!

Same as the other two. Tell them up front. As long as your honest and they like the templates to choose from, then a little customizing to their needs = a cheaper site that still looks better than their current site.

It is only unethical if you don't tell them and then they found out later. It does feel wrong as a designer, but thats because we design and now we are leaving that process for someone else.

I may be speaking just for myself here, but I consider good, simple web templates (preferrably table-less like the one you noticed) an excellent way to learn and expand your creativity.

If you want to use it for a client, it's ok, as long as you inform her upfront.

I appreciate the feedback - it's helpful to know that others feel that it's okay to make use of such a resource.

From a template authors point of view, I can say that it is perfectly OK to use the open source templates as starting point for projects you do for clients. If you feel that it isn't really right, then give the template author a few percent of the project budget in a donation or make sure to give credits to the original author on the site. And of course, be honest to the client. Other than that, it is all OK. That is what the open source templates are made for!

Andreas - I like your idea about making a donation to the template author or giving them credit, say, in the code. I never thought of that!

Keep up the great work with your templates - they are extremely good and I'm sure have been useful to many people!

I think it's fine to use templates... it's nothing unethical... content is more important than design

I entirely agree with Andreas that any author (in case if his/her template is popular) should get a little piece for the spent time creating the template. I'm a web designer and I know how many energy and time it takes to create something cool.

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