Guest Author - Christin Sander
If you are new to web design, still learning HTML and CSS, or simply don't have the time to start from scratch, a web template may be the right solution for you. Templates are a great way for beginners to learn design, and they are equally useful for advanced designers and developers. A great template that meets your site plan goals can drastically reduce development time.
There are both free and premium website templates available. Typically, the high end templates are sold for a fee and will include the code, style sheets, and several page layouts as well as the .psd Photoshop files. This allows you to fully customize them and make them something unique. Premium templates do not usually require credit to the original developer, so you can revamp them or use them as is without a credit link required.
Most free options do require you to link back to the original designer, which is more than fair considering all the work involved in creating quality templates. Even if you completely revamp a free template, it is still important to include the link or pay the licensing fee to have the link removed.
Dissecting web templates can be a great hands-on learning experience with HTML and CSS. Changing things and making tweaks can help beginner's see how code works and give them an original to fall back on if a lot of mistakes are made. When I first started learning CSS I used to download various templates and work with them to see the differences in code and all the possibilities. Some things are better to learn "hands on" than out of a book - and coding great HTML and style sheets falls into that category. Templates can show a variety of coding styles, layout possibilities and other design elements that can help a budding designer gain more understanding.
If you are looking for a few great places to find high-quality website templates for learning or for your next website I recommend the following:
Free CSS Templates This website features over 600 free CSS templates in a variety of styles and formats. A link back is required if you use them for developing an actual website you publish - even if you change or otherwise customize the template.
Templatemo CSS Templates on this site (over 300) are free to modify and apply to your website without restrictions. They also offer free vector graphics and Flash templates.
If you are using WordPress to build your website or blog you may want to try some free WP themes available on the WordPress website.