In today's world almost every respected business, freelancer, etc. has a website, a place in the vast World-Wide Web.
As a full-stack web developer, my job (among multiple others) is to design modern, beautiful, and delightful websites that please not only the client but the end-user as well. Cohesive design system, though-out user experience, and accessibility - these are only a few things that I have to keep in mind while designing a website.
So you can see that there's a lot going on in the whole process. However, no matter how much you want the website you create to be good, there're always some obstacles. Web platform limitations, complex, troublesome designs, and especially time constrains are issues that you'll almost certainly stumble upon during different stages of development. In such cases you might be forced to compromise on your website's features or design, but what if I told you that there's another way?
For a long time now, templates have been the driving force for many new websites. They're among some of the best examples of the DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) rule, and allow you to keep your website's features and design up-to-pair with the top players while maintaining your time schedule.
For this article, I've partnered with Creative Tim to showcase some of their template offerings, as well as some other interesting products. Hope you'll find it useful!
Why use a template?
I've already mentioned some of the biggest advantages of templates, but I'd like to emphasize it a little bit more (feel free to skip this section if you're already convinced 😉).
It's reasonable to assume that the web development community is split on this topic. While an "average person" is surely way more compelled to jump on e.g WordPress and just use the best, first-encountered template, web developers can be more attached to their designs. After all, the use of templates does cause you to lose some of that feeling of individuality that comes from custom design.
Confession time - that's how I feel about templates - at least from the surface. Sure, they're very convenient and fast to deploy, but this sense of individuality - custom color palette, design system, and other features that help build your brand identity are really important to me.
But that's just from the surface because when I think about it - through a template is how I started this blog. Sure, I customized it a little bit, but it was still a template underneath, and in fact still is, even though it's super-heavily customized now.
What I'm trying to say is sure, templates do cause some loss in the website's individuality, but it doesn't have to be like that. Templates serve as a great boilerplate, accelerating the initial deployment time, but also allowing you to customize it down the road, whenever and however you want. Much less time constrain while providing an option to customize the design down the road. From this perspective, it's a win-win situation.
About Creative Tim
Ok, I went a bit off track here talking about my personal experience, but I do think it's somewhat important.
Now, I'd like to say a few words about Creative Tim, as it's their templates that you'll see in this post.
We did partner to bring this piece to you, but I wouldn't say it's "salesy" in any way. If you've stumbled upon Creative Tim before, whether it's when searching for templates or design inspiration like I did, you'll know that they deliver some truly high-quality stuff.
Their themes, templates, and design kits, whether free & open-source or paid do provide real value to developers. Great shopping experience with live previews, detailed docs, and simple categorization, make your decision process even more delightful.
Aside from their main specialty, they also provide a great website builder, a number of free resources (including UI component snippets), and a service allowing you to request a custom website design, although I should mention that you can get one from me as well.
Top Creative Tim templates
Alright, so now I'd like to present to you 5 of what I think are the best Creative Tim templates in no particular order. Mind you these are my subjective picks, and you might or might not agree with me, which is fine. Remember that you can still browse Creative Tim yourself, to find better deals, designs & more.
Argon Dashboard is one of Creative Tim's most popular products. It comes in both free and paid versions and implements Argon Design System, which looks great as a variation of the omnipresent Material Design, with subtle shadows, and delicate contrasts.
Now, a dashboard is a rather niche website type. However, it serves its purpose well of showcasing all the components (100 or 200 depending on the variant) and functionalities included in the package.
Apart from the free version, there's also a "Pro" one with more features. It's worth mentioning that like most other Creative Tim's products, Argon Dashboard comes in many variants ranging from pure Bootstrap to one based on popular front-end frameworks like React, Vue, or Angular.
If you like the design of the Argon Dashboard, there's also a full-blown Argon Design System pack with a lot more features.
Now UI Kit
Beginning with Now UI Kit, we'll be looking mostly at different design systems and UI kits rather than templates directly. Don't get me wrong - all these packages do include additional templates (aka example pages), but they also provide individual components, making the package as a whole more appealing, and universal as you can either go with the templates or use the components to build something on your own.
Now UI Kit looks great - especially when used as a landing page. Rounded corners, vibrant colors, and mostly flat elements do form a nice overall look.
As a UI Kit Now UI comes in multiple variants for different web frameworks, as well as for renowned design tools like Adobe XD, Sketch, and Figma.
BLK• Design System
BLK• Design System is pretty much my favorite Creative Tim product. Maybe it's because of its darker theme, reliance on subtle gradients, or lovely transitions & animations but I really love this product.
Sadly, BLK• has a bit "worse" (using this term loosely) support than previously-listed products, coming only in React, Angular, Bootstrap, and Sketch variants, but I think this should be more than enough for most people.
Notus is one of the latest additions to Creative Tim's product line. It features a very clean, minimalistic look - not unlike previous themes but even more noticeable.
It's worth noting that Notus is based on Tailwind CSS - a "utility-first" CSS framework that's recently gained a lot of traction. Because of that and Tailwind's unique approach to CSS, it should be even easier for you to customize the design (especially if you're already familiar with the framework).
Notus is currently available in free-only versions for Angular, React (with separate Next.js variant), Svelte and Vue, with no kit available for any design tools. However, because it's a pretty new product, I expect there's more to come in the future.
Paper Kit 2
Lastly, Paper Kit 2 is also a pretty fresh product as well as a refresh of the older Paper Kit.
Paper Kit looks very similar to other designs, but with a subtly stronger push for a flat look and eye-catching images.
Currently, it's available in both free and pro variants with Bootstrap and Angular versions and with a design Kit available for Photoshop.
Other template sources
Alright, so these were only some of Creative Tim's offerings and I really encourage you to check out their website to explore all of the listed products & more in-depth.
Now, apart from Creative Tim, the web is full of different templates, UI Kits, and design systems sources. While not the main focal point of this blog post, here's a few of my favorite places to look for this stuff, apart from Creative Tim:
- CreativeMarket - place where you can buy and sell your templates, themes, and other design products, right alongside thousands of other designers.
- EnvatoMarket/TeamForest - another marketplace with millions of great, high-quality products from thousands of designers and developers
- GitHub - you saw that coming, didn't you? Naturally, GitHub is a great place to look for any kind of software, with most of them available for free, with open-source licenses.
Feel free to let me know down in the comments whether you'd like to see some of my top picks for these and many other sources in future posts!
So, that's it for this blog post. Again, thanks to Creative Tim for the partnership and all the wonderful free & paid products they offer. If you'd like more information on them, you know where to look.
As for me, while we're on the topic of templates, how do you like the website you're on? It's powered by Ghost and uses my heavily-customized , almost indistinguishable version of the mentioned open-source theme. So, if you're a Ghost user, would you like to see this theme available to purchase or maybe even open-sourced? Let me know in the comments below.
As always, if you like my web development content, be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or through my newsletter. Thanks for reading, and happy designing!