Thinking Outside The Box - 4 Reasons Why Templates Are Outdated

Thinking Outside The Box - 4 Reasons Why Templates Are Outdated 4 June 2015, Richard Smith

Templates are the building blocks of digital design, and have been for a long time. However, have templates now ran their cause and are simply just accepted by designers, as they are all that has ever been known and used? What are the downsides to template driven design, and what solutions lay beyond borders and placeholders?


Templates by design, present boundaries to content. Whether creating digital publications, newsletters, websites, or emails – a template driven design means content can only be scaled and fitted based on the dimensions of the boxes or placeholders included within the template. Often this will mean content has to be adjusted based on the parameters of the template, which can mean the content does not necessarily fulfill the desires or aims of what is was initially created for. Consider writing a well informed and researched blog, yet having to remove valid points and arguments as the area in which you will be publishing it into-is too small!! Furthermore, when making use of more varied content types such as images or videos -which are typically less flexible items in how they can be re-sized or cropped, templates can often prevent even bigger obstacles. Without having the necessary design skills to be able to optimize or modify this type of content to fit within your template, the end result may not end up looking the way you wanted it to.

content has to be adjusted based on the parameters of the template


Templates don’t just present challenges in restricting content. In fact-some of the biggest issues faced with using this type of design is that content has to be created in order to fill the placeholders or areas stipulated by the template. This can often result in content being created or re-sized unnecessarily, in order to eliminate whitespace and blank placeholders. Again, this can result in content not achieving its initial objectives and thus becoming irrelevant. Furthermore, and possibly of most importance – is that in a world where content is becoming more dynamic, on demand, and personalised – layouts need to be able to change in conjunction to accommodate this too. Fixed templates can often mean that this doesn’t happen, and either new templates need to be created from scratch, existing templates are modified, or again-content is adjusted or removed in order to sit within the walls set out. Whilst templates can sometimes enable some level of configuring or customisation – wouldn’t the better solution be to allow content to drive the design?

this can result in content not achieving its initial objectives and thus becoming irrelevant

Template Apathy

Whether using a publishing platform, a word processor, or a design tool, there are only even a finite number of templates on offer. Often people will use the same templates again and again- as this fits with their brand identity, or simply because they understand the restrictions and limitations these provide, and that this drives the composition of the content they publish. There is the argument that when marketing content to a customer base, intuitive and engaging design needs to be considered in order to appeal to readers. Utilising a repetitive template driven design may instil ‘template apathy’ where readers become bored of duplicated layouts, and subconsciously are turned off. Multiple layouts of content can demonstrate variation and increased visual appeal, enhancing reader engagement. Furthermore, from a web design platform perspective- given that templates are not exclusive nor unique-you end up running the risk of your design looking like somebody else’s.

there are only even a finite number of templates on offer.

Content Marketing Drawbacks

Templates simply provide you with the shell of your design, and the most important part of ensuring your design is optimised for content marketing and SEO, is your actual content. Having a template driven design where your content is restricted based on placeholders and rules, can mean that key words, brand identity, and customer communication will end up being depreciated. Having a content led design where layouts are created based on actual composition of content and material- will mean in the long run, you will have better chances of being discovered and ranked positively.

Richard Smith – Contented New Business and Relationship Manager
Contented uses artificial intelligence to create automated content driven designs, without the restrictions of templates. Contact us for more information


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