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Free or paid Joomla template, how to choose?

Free or paid Joomla template, how to choose?

Published on: 22 February 2016 - Updated on: 30 May 2024 - Read 55 times - Reading time:  6 minutes


Whether you have a small budget for your template or not, the choice of your template is essential, it reflects your image and allows you to add many features to your website.

The template market on Joomla! is huge, which is why it is preferable, before choosing your template, to make a precise list of the functionalities that the template must fulfill and which will correspond to your requirements. After that you will be able to choose the template that best suits your needs, your budget and your project.

Table of contents

How to choose your Joomla Template, free or paid? 

The basic layout 

The first thing to do is to determine the type of content you are going to display on your site. This step will allow you to choose the type of layout you want to adopt to present the content to your visitors.

image montrant le template Paladin sur Yootheme

Indeed, if your site contains many articles and few media, it will be more judicious to choose a blog or “magazine” type template in order to be able to focus the reader on the content of the site and not have any layout problems because we cannot fill all positions.

Example: https://yootheme.com/joomla-templates/paladin

image montrant le template JAspace de joomlaartIf, on the contrary, your site contains a majority of media (photos, videos, etc.), you will need to choose a media type template which contains a large space dedicated to visuals.

Example: https://www.joolart.com/demo/ja-space

image montrant le template N°1 shopping de Shape5And if you have an e-commerce site you will need to choose a template with a particular layout which allows you to highlight the store and the products.

Example: http://www.shape5.com/demo/index.php?no1_shopping

Before validating your choice of template, you must therefore define the general layout of the layout which should accommodate your project and its content. From the choice of images displayed on the home page to the typography of your content, each element must be taken into account in your analysis.

Responsive template? What is this ?

A responsive (or adaptive) template is a website design template that automatically adapts to the screen size of the device used to view it. This means the website will look and feel great whether you view it on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Responsive templates typically use fluid grids and flexible images, as well as CSS media queries to determine screen size and adjust the layout accordingly.

Using a responsive template is important as more and more people use mobile devices to access the Internet. If your website is not mobile-friendly, visitors may have difficulty navigating and reading content, which may cause them to leave your site. Additionally, Google favors mobile-friendly websites in its search results.

Characteristics of a Responsive Template

  • Flexible Grids : Use of proportional grids rather than fixed pixels. For example, instead of defining the width of a column in pixels, we use percentages.
  • Flexible Images : Images automatically resize to fit the screen size. Techniques like CSS max-width: 100%; allow images to never exceed the width of their container.
  • Media Queries : Use of media queries in CSS to apply different styles depending on the characteristics of the device (screen size, resolution, etc.). For example :
@media (max-width: 600px)
{
 .container {
   font-weight: bold;
   flex-direction: column;
  }
}
  • Layout Fluidity : Layout elements must be able to be repositioned fluidly. For example, a sidebar could go below the main content on a smaller screen.
  • Optimized for Touch : For touch devices, buttons and links should be large and spaced enough to be easily clickable.

Advantages of a Responsive Template

  • Improving User Experience : If you have read our article on Jakob's Law , you know how important improving user experience is. A responsive site offers a consistent and pleasant browsing experience regardless of the device used.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization) : Google and other search engines favor responsive sites because they provide a better user experience.
  • Simplified Maintenance : A single site to maintain rather than creating and managing separate versions for mobile and desktop.
  • Accessibility : Allows you to reach a wider audience, including users on mobile devices.

Examples of tools and frameworks for Responsive Templates

To create responsive websites, several tools and frameworks are widely used by developers. Here is a detailed description of the most popular ones:

BOOTSTRAP

Bootstrap is one of the most popular CSS frameworks for responsive website development. It was developed by Twitter and offers a comprehensive collection of CSS, JavaScript and HTML tools.

  • Responsive Grid : Bootstrap uses a 12-column grid system that helps create fluid and responsive layouts. For example :
<div class="container">
<div class="row">
<div class="col-md-8">Contenu principal</div>
<div class="col-md-4">Barre latérale</div>
    </div>
</div>
  • UI Components : It offers many ready-to-use components like buttons, modals, carousels, forms, etc.
  • Media Queries : Using predefined breakpoints (e.g. xs, sm, md, lg, xl) to apply different styles depending on screen size.
  • Customization : Developers can customize Bootstrap via Sass variables to adjust colors, spacing, component sizes, etc.

FOUNDATION

Foundation is another robust and flexible CSS framework for creating responsive websites, developed by Zurb.

  • Flexible Grid : Foundation uses a grid system similar to Bootstrap, but with more flexibility in configuring columns.
<div class="grid-container">
<div class="grid-x grid-margin-x">
<div class="cell small-6 medium-4">Contenu principal</div>
<div class="cell small-6 medium-8">Barre latérale</div>
    </div>
</div>
  • UI Components : It offers a wide range of components such as drop-down menus, modals, carousels, and much more.
  • Flexbox and Grid Layout : Foundation makes it easy to use Flexbox and CSS Grid Layout for more modern and complex layouts.
  • Customization : Like Bootstrap, Foundation allows customization via Sass.3 variables.

FLEXBOX

Flexbox (Flexible Box Layout) is a modern CSS module that allows you to create flexible and responsive layouts without the use of external frameworks.

  • Alignment and Distribution: Flexbox makes it easy to align and distribute items in a container with properties such as `justify-content`, `align-items`, and `flex-wrap`.
.container {
    display: flex;
    justify-content: center;
    align-items: center;
    flex-wrap: wrap;
}
.item {
    flex: 1;
    min-width: 200px;
}
  • Order of Elements: Allows you to change the visual order of elements without changing the order in the HTML code with the order property.

GRID LAYOUT

CSS Grid Layout is a powerful CSS module that allows you to create two-dimensional layouts. It is ideal for more complex layouts than Flexbox.

  • Definition of Grids : CSS Grid allows you to define grids with rows and columns, and to place elements at precise positions.
.grid-container {
    display: grid;
    grid-template-columns: repeat(3, 1fr);
    grid-template-rows: auto;
    gap: 10px;
}
.item {
    grid-column: span 2;
}
  • Alignment and Spacing : Makes it easy to control the alignment and spacing of items with properties like grid-gap, align-content, justify-items.

TAILWIND CSS

Tailwind CSS is a utility framework that allows you to create responsive layouts using utility CSS classes directly in HTML.

  • Utility Classes : Uses utility classes like flex, pt-4, text-center to apply styles directly in HTML.
<div class="flex flex-wrap justify-center items-center">
<div class="w-full md:w-1/2 lg:w-1/4 p-4">Contenu</div>
</div>
  • Customization : Tailwind CSS is extremely customizable via a configuration file where developers can define their own styles, breakpoints, and other configurations.

MEDIA QUERIES CSS

Media queries are a standard CSS feature for applying specific styles based on certain conditions, such as screen size, resolution, etc.

Example of Media Query:

@media (max-width: 600px) {
    .container {
        flex-direction: column;
    }
}

These tools and frameworks allow developers to create modern, flexible and adaptive websites, ensuring an optimal user experience on all devices.

Free or paid Joomla template?

Choosing between a free or paid Joomla template depends on several factors, such as your needs, your budget and the level of customization desired. To help you make your choice, here is an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each option:

Free Joomla Templates

BENEFITS

  • Cost : As they are free, you have no costs to incur, which is ideal for small budgets or personal projects.
  • Accessibility : Easy to download and install, making it quick to get started on your project.
  • Community and Support  : There is a large community of developers using and improving these templates, sometimes offering online forums and help.

DISADVANTAGES

  • Limited Features  : Free templates may not offer as many features or customizations as paid templates.
  • Technical Support  : Technical support is often limited or non-existent, which can be problematic in the event of bugs or difficulties.
  • Updates  : Updates may be irregular, which may cause compatibility issues with new versions of Joomla.
  • Originality and Design  : Free templates are often used by many sites, which can make your site less unique.

Paid Joomla Templates

BENEFITS

  • Advanced Features  : Paid templates generally offer more features and customization possibilities, allowing you to create a more unique and professional website.
  • Technical Support  : Purchasing a paid template often includes quality technical support, which is helpful in resolving issues quickly.
  • Regular Updates  : Paid template developers generally provide regular updates to ensure compatibility with new versions of Joomla and improve functionality.
  • Design Quality  : Paid templates are often designed by professionals and offer more sophisticated and customizable designs.

DISADVANTAGES

  • Cost  : Cost can be a barrier, especially for small businesses or personal projects.
  • Complexity : Sometimes paid templates can be more complex to configure due to the many options and features available.
  • Dependency  : You may become dependent on the developer for updates and support, which can be problematic if the developer goes out of business.

Custom Joomla template

It was difficult for us who work on specific agency projects not to talk about another category of Templates: custom templates. Indeed, tailor-made Joomla templates are another option to consider, especially if you have very specific needs and a significant budget. Here is an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of custom templates:

BENEFITS

  • Complete Customization  : A custom template is designed entirely to your specifications, meeting your precise needs and aesthetic preferences.
  • Originality  : Your website will be unique, which can help you stand out from the competition and strengthen your brand identity.
  • Optimization  : The template code can be optimized for performance and SEO, which can improve your site's speed and search engine rankings.
  • Adaptability  : The custom template can be designed to perfectly fit all the specific extensions and features you need.
  • Dedicated Support  : You will receive dedicated technical support from the developer or agency that created your template, which can make maintenance and updates easier.

DISADVANTAGES

  • High Cost  : As with any type of development, developing a custom template is generally much more expensive than purchasing a pre-designed template, whether free or paid. It’s a choice to make about the Return on Investment you want to have.
  • Development Time  : Creating a custom template takes time, which can delay the launch of your site. It is therefore important to allow the necessary time and anticipate the release online.
  • Dependence on the Developer  : Be careful to choose your service provider carefully. Indeed, if you choose to do "pure dev" and not rely on a known framework, you will be highly dependent on the developer or agency that created your template for future modifications and support.
  • Management Complexity  : Managing and updating a custom template can be more complex, often requiring the intervention of professional developers.

So, free or paid?

As you will have understood, the choice between a free or paid Joomla template depends on your specific needs. If you are on a small budget and don't need many advanced features, a free template may be enough. On the other hand, if you are looking to create a professional website with advanced features and reliable technical support, investing in a paid template is a better option. Tailor-made templates, ideal for companies or individuals with very specific needs and a sufficient budget to invest in custom development, offer total customization, maximum optimization and unique originality, which can greatly benefit your web project . However, it is important to consider the high cost and time required for development, as well as the increased reliance on the developer for maintenance and updates.

Each option therefore has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best decision will depend on your priorities and resources. Take your time to decide, the change will have an impact on the continuation and success of your project!

Paid template providers

Free template providers

A special note for our friend Daniel Dubois who has put online a platform entirely dedicated to Joomla Templates. This platform will be very useful for you to narrow down your choice:  https://templatejoomla.com/

If you think that a template provider is missing, free or paid, do not hesitate to suggest it to us , we will update this article with pleasure!
(last updated on 05/30/2024)

Eric Lamy
Bio rapide : Après avoir passé plus de 20 ans dans le marketing et l'optimisation de Système d'Information, j'ai créé l'agence Agerix en 2009 afin d'avoir une approche des projets tout aussi commerciale que technique. Fouiller, creuser, réfléchir et amener le projet au plus haut niveau qualité, c'est le Leitmotiv de notre bureau d'études et l'ADN que nous insufflons chaque jour dans nos projets. Que ce soit pour nos développements, nos projets d'intégration, ou même l'article que vous venez de lire, notre but est de livrer le meilleur.