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How to customize web templates on your own to create unique websites
by Mark P
Web templates are raw materials that need to be refurnished/edited to be published online. Editing web-templates could include content insertion, graphic insertion/modification, inserting company logo, changing styles, changing links, changing flash images etc. Editing is quite easy but in case you feel otherwise you can always make use of template customization services that most template providers offer at affordable costs. Some template providers like http://www.buytemplates.net offer affordable customization services irrespective of where you actually purchased the template from. This article discusses the techniques that you can use to edit your web templates effectively to create unique looking websites.
Editing website templates effectively
For editing website templates all you would require is an html editor like Dreamweaver, Photoshop, FrontPage or Go-live. Most of these html editors are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) kind and have a user friendly interface. You can do two types of editing to your web-templates. One is content editing and the other is graphics editing.
1.) Editing the content of your web templates
The template provider would have supplied you with an ‘index.html’ file along with your template. This is the file that you would require for editing content of your templates. You can edit content using a text editor or an html editor software program.
Editing using text editors
Editing using text editors is the best possible way to edit your templates. This will ensure that your html coding remains clean and no unnecessary junk code is added. But of course you need to be some what conversant with Html to hand code your templates. Notepad is probably the most well-known of all text editors. Other than Notepad some other good and advanced text editors are editpad (editpadpro.com), NoteTab Light (notetab.com), and arachnophilia (arachnoid.com/arachnophilia/index.html).
Editing using Html editors
Making use of an html editor is probably the easiest way of editing templates and would be useful to those who are not conversant with html. Most html editors are user friendly and have an easy-to-use interface. Some well known html web template editors are Dreamweaver, FrontPage and Go-live. To edit content of the template, all that you would need to do is load the index.html file in an editor. After that you can simply cut and paste your content where the dummy content is provided and you are done. Adding content would also include changing links, adding content to tags and changing image sources if required.
Handy tips for content editing
1.) Make sure to change the title of all pages. The title can be a keyword or words that are most repeated in your content. It can also be a description of your webpage. For instance you can use ‘Florida tourism’ as the title for a webpage related to tourism in Florida.
2.) Change alt text of images and keep the alter text as a keyword. Search engines don’t read images but they do ready the Alt texts. For instance you can use the tag ‘Florida beach’ for a Florida beach image.
3.) Make sure to add proper anchor text to all your links. Anchor texts are given special importance in search engines.
4.) Give proper headings to all your pages. Heading can contain specific keywords. Headings are given using ‘h1, h2, h3 ….. h6’ tags. Text with-in heading tags are given more value by search bots.
5.) Be sure to check for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, broken links and misspellings before loading the site
6.) Provide contact information.
2.) Editing images and graphics
Editing images would involve changing image colors, add/remove image layers, add/change text used in images etc. In order to make changes to the images used in the web template you would need to use the PSD file. Almost all template providers would supply you with a PSD file (although some may charge you extra for the file). PSD file is basically a layered file that is created using Adobe PhotoShop. This file is compatible with many graphic editing programs. Some good programs that can be used to edit PSD files are Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7, Ulead PhotoImpact 7 & 8, ImageReady and of course Photoshop. For more information on PSD files you can visit adobe.com.
In case you don’t have access to any of the above mentioned software programs for editing the templates, you may request your web template provider to give you BMP files instead of PSD files. A BMP file is a high quality bitmap image file that can be edited using any image editing software program.
1.) Change the color of images to suite and enhance your text visibility
2.) If needed you can also replace images used in the templates to add your own professional images. (One good website from where you can get professional images is ‘gettyimages.com’)
3.) Editing the styles of a template
CSS style sheets are the ones that allow you to make changes to the style of the webpage like changing font color, line and paragraph spacing, font size, link color etc. Style sheets are useful as they allow you to make changes to many WebPages by altering one document. CSS can be edited using any Html editor or text editor. Although there are some specialized programs available that are meant specifically for editing CSS Stylesheets like ‘TopStyle’ (bradsoft.com).
There are many web template providers who offer internal style sheets or multiple font styles. It is difficult to edit internal style sheets and therefore is not recommended. Always make sure to go for template providers who offer you with external CSS Style Sheets.
1.) Make sure to use contrasting text and background colors
2.) Make sure to use same font type through out a webpage. Making use of different font types can make reading difficult. Arial and veranda are best suited for online reading.
3.) Never use justification for your text as it can make reading difficult.
4.) Provide a site map
Quality tutorials to help you with HTML
If you are not familiar with html/CSS and need some start up lessons then there are plenty of free resources available over the internet that will allow you to do just that. Some of the best ones are ‘w3cschools.com’ and ‘webmonkey.com’. W3cschools offers the best tutorials for html where as webmonkey offers the best tutorial for CSS Style-sheets (just type ‘Mulder's Stylesheets Tutorial’ in a search engine like google or yahoo! to reach directly to the tutorial page). For getting knowledge about web usability you can refer to ‘http://www.usability.gov/guidelines’. For researching keywords for your website content you can refer wordtracker.com or overtune.com. There are also many sites that give step by step instructions on how to edit templates. One good site worth visiting in this regard is ‘template-help.com’.
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