Cisco Blogs

Templates, Templates, Templates

August 13, 2009 - 2 Comments

At Cisco, we run our web sites on templates. It’s the only sane way to keep on top of a web presence that encompasses literally millions of pages. Beyond sanity, templates also save time and money. For instance, we use the template below for some of our seminars and events around the world, and our tech team says it has saved them two days per event setup because everything is ready-made:imageOf course, Cisco is a big company with Design and IT departments, and we create our own templates to use on our sites. But not every organization has this luxury: If you’re a small company or an individual, you probably can’t afford to hire a big design firm or in-house team to create your templates and pages. Something we get asked about all the time by our friends in smaller and mid-size companies is “How can I get a good design for my web site without breaking the bank?”Fortunately, there is a raft of online firms who have built inexpensive, ready-to-use templates that are probably tuned to exactly what you need.Our work colleague Alex Keyser has used a few of these services in the past, including and, and there are lots of others. Alex says they’re a pretty good way to go if you want to spend more time running your business than designing your web site. Some of these template sites are subscription based –meaning you pay an annual or semi-annual fee — and others allow you to buy rights to use and modify the templates. It pays to try a few different ones, because you may find some of the services’ templates are easier to modify than others.Some comments from our team about templates to-go:

  • A great way to get a professional looking template for a lot less than what it would typically cost to hire a design firm
  • Saves time over traditional web design if there’s a template or template set that fits your needs
  • May not be a good fit if you have a well-defined brand that can’t be expressed in off-the-rack templates
  • Not all templates are created equal, some look great but can be hard to modify or have usability issues
  • Worth validating with your own usability testing, since it may not be perfect for your needs or your users

Let us know your experiences.imageAn example from one of the template sites.(Thanks to Alex Keyser and Kate Spring for their contributions to this post.)

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. It’s definitely important to skin your templates with a color scheme that’s compatible with your visual identity. The large services have a range of options.That said, if your brand identity is very important to you, nothing beats creating and testing your own templates.- Martin Hardee

  2. So long as the templates you choose aren’t a complete departure from your other media it’s a sensible time-saver. That said, it’s important to be careful not to ruin the consistency of your user experience by employing bad templates – or by using templates that are significantly different from your other customer touch points.