18 Benefits of Professional Joomla Templates
Why would you buy premium Joomla! templates, when there are literally thousands of free Joomla! templates available on the Internet? While free Joomla! templates are great to try the strength of Joomla! or power a hobby website, my guess would be that many corporate Joomla! websites would achieve far greater conversion rates by using commercial Joomla templates rather than free templates. This would allow them to earn back their investment in no time, while at the same time improving the global image that people have of Joomla! powered websites. That is why in the blog I will outline 18 benefits that professional templates for Joomla! have over free templates.
Professional designer — Many (if not most) free Joomla! templates are designed by students or otherwise non-professional designers. Of course exceptions to this rule certainly apply (for example to the free templates released by other large template providers). However, as explained in his book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell reasoned that 10,000 hours of practice are required to be truly master a complicated skill. The chance of a ‘casual’ template designer to have invested that amount of time are simply very small, while most commercial designers will qualify for this (trivial) standard, be it self taught or by taking formal design education.
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Balanced color palettes — Rather than guessing what colors go well together (using a possibly badly calibrated monitor), the color palette of premium templates will be well-balanced. Using tools such as Adobe Kuler template designers can select well-balanced color palettes, matching a mood that fits the style of the template.
Good contrast — Contrast in web design can be defined as the difference between two colors (in most cases the text color and background color on which this text is placed). Good contrast is vital because it not only separates a beautiful from a hideous template, but also ensures that visual impaired users can view the website just like non-visually impaired users would.
Cleaner source — The source code of high quality templates will most likely contain fewer (if any) deprecated code or syntax errors. Because most programmers working on professional templates have years of experience with coding, they will probably have adopted proper coding habits (such as using brackets with ‘if’ statements, not using the PHP closing tag, etc.).
Well commented — As most professional programmers will provide support for their code and create new features for it, they are more likely to comment their code. Especially if you plan to modify parts of the source code yourself, having well commented code will be a blessing.
Faster loading — Having a clean and efficient source code will take less time to process by the server, make less requests to the database, and secure input by users properly and fast.
Live support — Some template providers are offering direct support. This can either be a phone number, or a live chat application. The biggest advantage of live support is that it enables you to ask a question, and get a response (and possibly solution) within minutes. This enables you to continue your work without have to wait for a response or fix for your problem.
Support forums — Forums benefit from the large community that is often behind them. That way the support that you can receive isn’t limited to the number of support people providing support to the company or the knowledge available to them.
Email — With email support you can ask a question and get a response from the developer. Some developers have certain guarantees like ‘response within 24 hours’ or ‘support until the problem is resolved’. Using a ticket system will make sure your support requests are stored orderly with the developer so you don’t have to worry about that yourself.
Browsers — When you purchase a high quality Joomla template, you can be pretty sure it will be compatible with the latest versions of all web browsers. At the point of writing this usually includes the following browsers: Internet Explorer 7 / 8, FireFox, Opera, Safari, and Google Chrome. Statistics by Net Applications show that over 40% of all your visitors will not be using Internet Explorer!
Operating systems — While not as common to cause trouble as web browsers, operating systems can cause problems with your website as well. Statistics show that a little under 1 in 10 of your visitors are using a different operating system than Windows. The percentage will be far higher when you are running a tech-oriented website.
Third party extensions — Many premium templates support styling of common extensions such as K2 and JomSocial.
Source ordering — By using a so-called 2-1-3 ordering in the source code, the content in the middle column of your website will be highest in the source code. In the 2-1-3 ordering, the 2 stands for the main area, usually com_content or another component, the 1 stands for your left column and finally the 3 for your right column. Having keywords higher in the source code is said to improve your rankings for that keyword.
Header tags — While not as important in SEO as they used to be, header tags can be a moderately important signal to search engines about what keywords you want to rank for. Having properly defined and ordered header tags is also important for visually impaired users who are surfing the website with a screen reader.
No tables — A classic one, but still many Joomla! templates on the web are designed using tables. This technique which was very popular a decade ago, has been pushed about by the far superior technique of styling using Cascade Style Sheets (CSS). Every top quality template released in the past few years should have proper template overrides in place to ensure a layout without any tables. Fortunately Joomla 1.6 doesn’t utilize any tables for mark-up anymore, which will ensure more properly CSS-styled Joomla! websites on the web.
Safety — Sometimes exploits are found in code that was once regarded as safe (or never safe at all). With an actively maintained product, there is most likely an update available within a short time period that prevents the problem from occurring or closes the security hole that enabled the exploit.
New features — The internet is evolving every day. New techniques such as Google Font, CSS3, HTML5 are slowly surfacing. Using the latest techniques will make your templates more interactive and stylish on supported browsers, will degrading gracefully on older browsers.
Continued compatibility — Browsers and programming languages can have a bad habit of breaking code that was working earlier. By releasing updates for their templates, developers take care of fixing problems that are caused by new versions of browsers or programming languages.