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How to Choose the Right Joomla! Template

Choosing the right Joomla Template for your site is Critical!

question-manIn this blog post, I will take you through the process I use in choosing the right Joomla Template for a website. Joomla, as we all know is a fantastic CMS. With tons of features and power to run robust websites, Joomla! is my first choice in my web site building toolbox!

There are thousands of free and paid Joomla Templates... 

How to Choose the Right Joomla Template for Your Website

Before I even look at Joomla Templates, i talk to the client about a few essential things (If it's your site, consider these questions yourself):

  • What is the purpose of this site?
  • What do you want to get out of it?
  • Who are the people that will be interested in your site?

Those three questions really shape the structure of any website. When building a business website for a Dentist, the purpose of the site would be to give people information on what the Dentist offers, their experience and perhaps, convincing testimonials from past patients.

Second, the dentist wishes to gain new clients from the site, so a "call to action", such as making an appointment or 'request more information' item that a viewer can "take action" on is imperative. Without something to do, the user will click around, and convinced or not, they are forced to leave the site -- oh, and as a side note, just posting a phone number isn't enough -- at least build a contact form using RSForms or similar.

The third question is mainly demographics. The dentist usually sees a very wide range of people, so this question might not seem as relevant, but it is when you think in terms of Search Engine Optimization. Upon fact finding, I discover that there's a lot of insurance claims, so thinking ahead to SEO, I might want to hit the following areas:

  • Delta Dental Dentist
  • Blue Cross Blue Sheild Dental Office
  • (other insurance here) Dental Accepted
  • Dental Office in (City) (State) - for location based searches
  • Kid Friendly Dentist in (City) (State)

And the list goes on... 

The Template that I have to choose must lend itself well to content siloing and many pages specifically created for SEO. Dentists are also considered professionals, so a Joomla Business Template is just what I'd need in this example.

The point is that you have to identify what your clients needs are before you look at the template to see if it's going to work -- an obvious example of looking for the wrong template would be if you were sifting through business templates for a professional photographer. Sure, he/she runs a business, but that's not the focus.

Get a general idea of the site. If you have a whiteboard, plan out your menus, sections, categories and tags (Joomla 3.x and later). What's going to be on the homepage? What's in the sidebars in each category? Is your site going to use sidebars at all?

Choosing the Template

A good rule of thumb is to choose a template based on features and fuctionality first, then template provider. If you love a certain provider, but they don't have something you need, it really won't do good for you anyway.

If you are not a Professional Joomla Developer that knows the code, check into the support -- Does the company really answer questions and problems in the support forums? Will they answer your contact us questions in a timely manner? What are others saying about them? Do becareful of "Affiliate blogs" that recommend something because they're getting paid when you purchase through their link. They're not always the best indicators of a company.

Does the template do what you need it to do? By now, you should have a list of your requirements. Go to the demo on the provider's site, and check your list against the demo. 

If one of your requirements is for "testimonial boxes" where you quote your customers, you might want to look at the typography and see if there's CSS for quotes, or perhaps custom module CSS to put the testimonial into the sidebar.

How does the template handle images? Does the slider on the homepage come with the template, or do you need another extension? -- and to that point, what other extensions will you need, and is there good indication whether they're compatible?

Lastly, after your selection and purchase, always test and get familliar with the template on a test site before you start developing.


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