Often a friend will ask me to help them with ideas for their website. Most of the time a turnkey pre-built website offered by most hosting providers will suffice, so that’s what they end up doing.

But last week a friend needed help with a site that needed some flashy storyboard/slideshow features and it all needed to look very nicely crafted. But spending hundreds of dollars (if not thousands of dollars) on the website just wasn’t in the cards.

Thus began my first-ever descent into the world of ready-to-go web templates. It was actually quite interesting.

I won’t even address the zillions of sites offering “free templates” other than to say from what we saw (after looking at hundreds of examples) you (a) get what you pay for and (b) you cannot even tell what you are/aren’t going to get because most sites have a single graphic preview that, well, fails to show how poorly the page source code is designed.

So the bad news is, if you’re serious enough about your website to spend the time to create it, you’re going to pay something for the design.

The good news is, for $50 you can have a selection of nearly 1000 unique designs in 3 or 4 color variations each with all kinds of interactive javascript goodies pre-baked such as sliders and slideshows. In fact, for $50 (one time, not a recurring fee) you can download as many as you want, although limited to 20 per day. (This was helpful because my friend used one template for his site, but downloaded a few other templates just to copy/paste some cool style/javascript goodies from other sites… mix n match.)

For example, my friend went with http://demo.templateworld.com/full-websites/123a then modifed the images and tweaked some of the colors.

Curious about the quality of the template implementation I rolled up my sleeves to help my friend tweak his site. His modifications were easy to do because, by golly, the template CSS is properly designed, documented, and then used in the 9 pre-built sample html pages — we did not see a single example of someone manually over-riding the stylesheet, which we often saw on the “free” templates.

**Plus support! ** Saturday evening we we sent an email asking how to turn off the automatic advance between slides on one of the javascript gizmos the template included. Got an email back an hour or two later.

$50. One time. Instant online activation/download permission. With support. Wow. Templateworld.com