The very notion of using website templates for your website layout is something that makes a lot of web designers and developers cry out in sheer horror. Website templates, we're helpfully informed, are some kind of evil incarnate, out to wreck the industry with their 'readymadeness' and general awfulness.
The thing is, while website templates do have something of an iffy reputation, there are plenty of decent examples out there, crafted by some truly smart designers and providing some amazing web design inspiration.
To illustrate the point, we've rounded up some good options that might open your eyes to the possibilities templates have to offer, at least when they're created by people who know what they're doing.
01. Definity (Bootstrap)
A multipurpose single and multi-page template by Ocarine Themes, Definity is built on Bootstrap 3 and comes crammed with stuff: it's 100 per cent responsive with cool features such as video backgrounds, hover effects and parallax scrolling, and its modular design makes it easy to move sections of your pages around until you've nailed your layout. The latest version, which you can get for just $29, features three new templates and five new shop layouts.
02. Enfold (WordPress)
Designed to be the most user-friendly WordPress theme ever made, Enfold is a versatile and fully responsive theme suitable for business sites, online stores (with WooCommerce support) and portfolios. Its drag and drop template builder is just the thing for creating your own layout, but it also comes with a stack of ready-made demos to inspire you. The regular licence will cost you $60, which includes future updates and six months' support.
03. Porto (HTML5)
The basic HTML5 version of Porto will cost you just $17 and features a stack of homepage styles as well as unlimited header layouts and a style switcher that enables you to customise your site on the fly. It's also available in WordPress, Drupal and Magento flavours, with an additional admin version so you can manage your site much more effectively with a swish dashboard and all the widgets and charts you can eat.
There are six reasons you'll love Maple, say its developers: its bold and unique design, it's responsive and retina-ready, it features light and dark styles, parallax header backgrounds and multi sidebar support, and it's super-easy to use. With 15 layout combinations plus plenty of features and widgets, at $49 it gives you your money's worth.
05. BeTheme (HTML5)
Why settle for one theme when you can have over 210? Described as the most complete, comprehensive and flexible HTML template for business or personal websites, BeTheme is simply crammed with stuff. Fully responsive and retina-ready, with all the parallax and smooth scrolling features you'd expect, it's an absolute monster and the biggest headache it'll cause you is trying to choose from the enormous selection of pre-built sites. For $19 you can't go wrong.
06. NOHO (Muse)
Designed with creative professionals in mind, NOHO is built to be easy to edit in Adobe Muse, enabling you to get your agency site or portfolio up and running in record time. Its templates come in desktop, tablet and mobile flavours and in multiple layouts, and you'll find ample features such as image sliders, parallax scrolling and CSS rollover effects. The results are clean and eye-catching, and it's yours for just $21.
Jupiter confidently describes itself as the world's fastest and lightest WordPress theme ever, and its latest version been completely reviewed and rewritten to deliver lightning-fast pages that won't thrash your CPU or drain your batter.
It uses GPU rendering to deliver smooth parallax scrolling, it features adaptive image resolution to ensure that pictures look great regardless of devices, and it comes with over 85 templates in case you don't have time to build your own pages with its drag and drop interface. It's not cheap at $59, but the results are worth it.
08. Summer (Ghost)
PXThemes specialises in Ghost template and themes, and Summer is one of its most popular offerings. For $19 you get a simple and clean template with plenty of options to help your content stand out, including author pages and full screen covers, parallax blog background covers, and Foundation 5 and Disqus integration.
Jeremiah Shoaf's seemingly on a mission to free people from complex content management systems and so Type & Grids embraces the notion of the flat-file CMS.
The template is extremely fast, boasts a number of variations, and has some very smart typography. It'll work as-is, entirely for free, but Shoaf offers various tiers for pro use, and adds that Type & Grids works nicely with Statamic.
10. Ness (WordPress)
A lot of modern themes concentrate on stark minimalism and type, but Ness is far more interested in imagery, aiming for people wanting to rapidly get a photo blog or magazine up and running. It's Retina-ready and mobile-friendly, and in use feels like high-end photojournal app like Storehouse.
"Um, hello?", you might be saying, given that Bootstrap's really a framework rather than a template. This is true, but as the examples section showcases, even the Bootstrap defaults look pretty good if you've a design idea in mind that utilises a lot of rich imagery and backgrounds. It's just a few tweaks from a beautiful minimal creation — and that's even faster if you peruse Bootswatch's free themes.
12. Yuga (Muse)
If you're using Muse and you want plenty of options as well as value for money, look no further than Yuga. Billed as a 6-in-1 creative multipurpose true parallax template, it comes with six themes with plenty of transitions and animation that are easy to implement. It has loads of online documentation, including step-by-step editing tutorials, and it's yours for just $25.
13. Halcyon (Tumblr)
Pixel Union is a team of designers dedicated to "reshaping publishing, self-expression and entrepreneurship on the web", which basically means the company creates templates and themes for content management systems. Halcyon's one of the team's top-sellers for Tumblr, a bold and eye-catching $49 responsive grid-based effort.
Avada ($60) claims to be the best-selling WordPress theme of all, and it certainly has a lot going for it. It might be a third-party template, but the underlying framework is flexible enough to enable the crafting of all kinds of design styles, and there are tons of user-friendly tools and options for subsequently fine-tuning the resulting site.
Vitality is billed as a time-saver for anyone wanting to rapidly get a versatile, responsive one-page site live. $10 gets you the licence, and the template boasts six sample layouts, three page styles, ten colour schemes, a PHP contact form, and optional full-page image backgrounds and video background headers.
16. Huge (Tumblr)
This $19 effort by Precrafted is aimed at people wanting a blog that is heavy in imagery and videos. Many elements can be fully customised, and keyboard navigation makes it easy to quickly jump between posts when using traditional keyboard input. The design also includes a fixed (but not distracting) menu and options for controlling how photos appear.
17. Red Cap (HTML5)
This one's a single-page HTML5 template, based on Bootstrap, boasting plenty of customisation options and a MailChimp subscription form. It's primarily aimed at people wanting to create 'coming soon' landing pages for upcoming projects or products, and for $7 saves you the hassle of smashing together countdown scripts and the like yourself.
Another creation that's heavily focussed on content, Mediator is a responsive, minimal template for Jekyll by Dirk Fabisch. It has support for featured articles, enables the use of header images, and includes FontAwesome, in order that you can easily work with icon fonts.
Aimed squarely at journalists and publishers, Oblivion Magazine is a responsive Tumblr template that's crammed with customisation options, features and widgets, including a custom preloader and fancy loading animations, multiple authors, reading time info and SoundCloud player. Made by Alpha Draft, it's a steal at $24.
Where Valenti largely succeeds is in its flexibility and richness. This is a template primarily designed for magazine-oriented sites, and it's packed with options for vibrant home pages, full-background image styles, and parallax; it's also high-res- and mobile-ready, provides alternatives for review ratings, and makes it easy to craft mega-menu navigation.
21. Twelve (HTML5)
Bootstrap is in itself a great starting point for a site, but plenty of template authors have expanded on it, to provide you with something more complete. Twelve bills itself as an original and creative responsive template, and it has vibrant colours, Retina-ready imagery, icons, sliders, and single- or multi-page options, all for $17.
Perch isn't a product that necessarily lends itself to templates in the traditional sense, but Laura Kalbag created a default some time back, as a starting point. Clift Walker's minimal theme comes from similar thinking, giving you a little extra help to get started — a simple, sleek foundation on which to build.
Richard Bray's Muffin is a design-focused front-end web template that uses SASS, Jekyll and Gulp. Aimed at the reasonably tech-savvy, the template includes colour variables, SASS media queries, HTML includes and SVG icons. It comes in four 'flavours', based around the kind of site you want to design.
24. Lychee (HTML5)
Powered by Twitter's Bootstrap 3.3 framework, Lychee produces valid HTML5/CSS3 pages and features over 30 pages, six homepages, 20 portfolio pages and two blog styles, all of them perfectly responsive. Excellent parallax effects pair with a clean and professional design, and the whole packages will cost you $17; it's also available as a WordPress template.
25. X (WordPress)
Rather like Avada, X is a WordPress theme that enables you to construct your own template. It utilises what its creators call 'stacks', multiple unique built-in designs that make it easier to end up with something unique. Heavily customisable, your $64 purchase includes loads of typefaces, shortcodes, navigation options, social buttons and custom sidebars.