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Ask HN: Places to buy web application templates
46 points by antileet on July 9, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 19 comments
Our startup can't afford designers at this point, and we decided to buy a Web Template so that we can use that design before we launch. However, we ran into several pitfalls:

1. A lot of "Website template" sites are, frankly, crap. A majority of it are just cleverly Search Engine Optimized and offer poor quality content. 2. Most of the templates are for companies who just want to plug in information. We don't want any fancy graphics or stock pictures demonstrating racial diversity. We just need a blank page with a sidebar and a top navigation bar which is well documented.

The best we found after hours of searching were the "Admin Templates" at ThemeForest: http://themeforest.net/category/site-templates/admin-skins

I'm sure there are many well designed, well priced options out there. Any suggestions on where to find them will be greatly appreciated.

First I would say that using a template is a sure fire way to make your site look boilerplate and out of place, a designer doesn't really cost you that much. For a couple thousand dollars you can get someone to put together PSDs for you and then pay someone a couple hundred to cut them up into HTML/CSS... then the rest you can handle. You probably only need them to do 3-5 pages to cover most of your app.

That being said, I did find some admin specific ones back when I considered doing this (I didn't and paid for a designer) but here you go:






First I would say that using a template is a sure fire way to make your site look boilerplate and out of place

Depends on your audience. I bet 99% of people would never even notice.

I don't mean that they will recognize the template, I mean that you are going to be shoving your app into a template vs. designing something built for your app. You will haves spots to fill in a template and just put stuff in there, or if you leave it empty then it looks strange. It's the Lorem Ipsum curse, designers will put it everywhere and then you end up filling it with useless content to make things look right.


thanks for you advice. It seems more and more we have to consider paying for a designer (It isn't an idea we haven't thought of, it's just hard to justify that cost when we cut so many corners to keep costs low).

I have been looking at the same options that you have put across. Right now, we are prototyping with a 960 grid system so it should be okay temporarily.

Any suggestions for a good designer who is startup-friendly?

> Any suggestions for a good designer who is startup-friendly?

+1 this...finding someone that is affordable and good is very very hard. I've tried various online sites (rentacoder, etc), at various different price points, and been disappointed every time.

You know how when you're watching a movie and it is so bad that you "fall out" of it and can't stop thinking that it is a movie and these people are actors, acting? That's how my experience is with designers so far, when I look at their work, it doesn't pull me in, so many things stand out like sore thumbs and all I can think is someone designed this, and did a poor job. Does that make any sense?

Here's a simple web app theme, similar to Basecamp's design, that should work until you can design something yourself: http://github.com/pilu/web-app-theme

There are a lot of different styles to choose from as well.

Nice! :) IMHO, better link here:


I use a ThemeForest admin template for a web app I developed for non-technical small business owners. (http://themeforest.net/item/simpla-admin-flexible-user-frien...)

I don't claim to have the most amazing admin panel ever, but it saved me lots of time and money, and allowed me to deploy my app quickly and start making money. My clients are happy with it.

Atleast one person in your startup should be design savvy. Desining thinking makes great companies. If you outsource the design work it will part you from a important aspect of your user experience.

I recommend http://www.gooeytemplates.com/

They are simple and cheap. A good starting point. They even have a free one I think.

I also recommend them. I used their free one for the admin area of the SaaS Rails Kit, mentioned in another reply. :)

Thanks for the suggestion! They look pretty spiffy.

With all the time you spend looking for and putting a template in place you could be looking for a decent and affordable designer. Cutting up the design into HTML/CSS usually cost between $150-$300 depending on what you need done.

If you go the template route you might find it surprising how much time you spend hooking everything up in the frontend.. So like I said you might as well spend that time implementing the actual design you want.

I have heard from a few people that http://codemyconcept.com is great for cutting HTML/CSS

Just an FYI

http://railskits.com/ looks decent, but I have never bought or used anything from them.

Their SAAS kit is well put together and has some good code for account subscriptions and billing. I would consider it a worthwhile investment and good starting point if you're just beginning to code a Rails SAAS application.

There is a couple of not too bad looking admin skins listed in this article : http://net.tutsplus.com/articles/web-roundups/top-50-web-gra...

I wish I could tell you. I also found the "Admin Templates" but not much else. Most of the templates appeared to be geared to blogs or company web sites, and not web applications.

I'm getting ready to bite the bullet and go with a designer if I can get the price to an acceptable level.

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