Are Templates the Work of the Devil?
Mention the word "template" to many designers and they recoil, as if a viper was suddenly thrust at them. Who hasn't at one time followed a link and wound up on a template factory site, shaking our heads in dismay? But by definition, do design templates, especially those for print production, have to suck? Chuck Green doesn't think so. He's just released three sets of them, which were apparently two years in the making.
Chuck has been active in the design world for decades—you may have read his writings on design and print production at his Ideabook.com site or come across some of his books, such as The Desktop Publisher’s Idea Book (Random House). The latter has proved to be something of a perennial favorite and formed the basis for the three recently-released Ideabooks for InDesign, QuarkXPress and, somewhat surprisingly, good old PageMaker.
Each of the three packages contains a disk of 315 templates and a 276-page Ideabook, providing Chuck's collected tips on design, production and marketing. All this would be of just passing interest to most us, were it not for his design credentials and his positioning statement for the Ideabook templates: "They offer a detailed framework for finishing, not a rigid layout—big difference. As a designer, I'm sensitive to a designer's needs and when I create a template I do my best to keep it clean and simple."
Much commercial design work is simply a variation on what has been done many times before, whether due to client demands or the reality of needing to crank though profitable work. Chuck sums it up: "Re-inventing the wheel every time you start a project is a waste of billable time! Why spend valuable time setting page sizes, folds, margins, columns, gutters, and guides; determining headline and text sizes; experimenting with positioning; creating styles and so on, when one of the Ideabook templates provides it all for you?"
Why indeed? Do you have clients and projects for which using a template simply makes sense? Or is this a practice to be shunned at all costs?