|What is a website template?
Building a website usually requires you to design and then code your own layout, which can be a tedious task if you're not artistically inclined or familiar with HTML. Website templates take care of this for you by providing you with a fully designed and coded layout, which you can then use to build your website.
What is a CSS website template?
In the past layouts were put together with the HTML TABLE tag, which was originally meant more for holding tabulated information than showing parts of a page's actual design. However, with more standards-friendly browsers in use (such as Firefox, Opera, Safari, and IE7), more and more people are moving away from the TABLE tag and using strictly CSS for their layouts instead.
CSS makes design and overall site maintenance a lot simpler because it splits the design of your site (the stylesheet or .CSS file) from the actual content (the .HTML file) instead of mixing the two as is common with tables-based layouts. This makes your content very simple, lean, and easy to edit, with only the bare minimum markup to define logical things like paragraphs and headings. The design information is then stored in the stylesheet file, which can be edited to make site-wide design changes. You can even replace it with a different stylesheet to change the design of your site -- all while keeping your content intact and unchanged!
So in short, a CSS website template serves as a starting point for building a standards-compliant, CSS-based website.
What can I use to edit a CSS website template?
If you know some HTML or CSS, a text editor should do the trick. Here are a couple of excellent text editors:
If you're not familiar with HTML or CSS or just prefer a more visual approach, here are a few editors that can work with fully CSS-based layouts:
Who made all of these templates?
All templates on my site are 100% original works and created by me, with the exception of a handful generously contributed by NodeThirtyThree.
Are these CSS website templates really free?
Short answer: Yes! :)
Long answer: All of my CSS templates are released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license, which means you can use them for any purpose (even commercial purposes) for free. My only requirement is that you link back to my website in some way. Oh, and tell your friends about my site, too :)
Wait, so I can use these commercially?
Of course. However, there are a few stipulations that come with using my templates commercially:
You have to link back to my site and credit me on the sites that use them (this applies regardless of whether you use my templates for commercial or noncommercial purposes). If you really don't want to link back, check out the question/answer a few paragraphs down.
You can't copyright them or claim they're your intellectual property. Just because you can use them commercially doesn't negate the fact that they were initially released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license for everyone to use for free. This also means you can't take action (legal or otherwise) against someone who happens to be using the same template as you.
If you're offering some kind of paid service that utilizes my templates, or if you're designing a website for someone for money and you use one of my templates, you owe it to your customers and clients to let them know the template you're using is free (ie. by linking back to and crediting my site). Making someone pay for something they could have otherwise gotten for free is just asking for bad karma :)
There are so many templates available, but I can't find what I'm looking for. Can I request something?
Sure. Just contact me with a description or theme. While I can't guarantee I'll fulfill every template theme request, it'll at least give me an idea of where to go next.
I'd like to know when you release new designs. Do you have a RSS feed?
We do! It's available here.
I really enjoy your site and I'd like to link to you. Do you have any banners?
Not yet, but I will soon. In the meantime, a simple text link is more than sufficient.
I'd like to port one of your templates to [insert CMS name here]. Is this allowed?
Absolutely. You're free to port any of my templates to WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or any other CMS (just remember to credit me and link back to this site :). Note that if you do port one of my templates, please let me know as I'd love to see it!
I'd like to use one of your templates, but I don't want to link back to your site. Is there anything I can do?
Sure. Just send me a small donation and you can remove the link/credit. Contact me for details on how you can do this.
Are any of these themes available as WordPress themes?
Yes! I have recently launched Free WP Themes, a new site that offers ports of my CSS templates to WordPress as well as brand new themes created exclusively for WordPress.
I came across a website using one of your templates and I need to contact the site's owner. Can you put me in touch with him/her?
I can't. My templates are free for anyone and everyone to use and are distributed not only on this site but on many other free template sites, so there's no way for me to know exactly who is using them. This also means I have no control over the content of sites that use my templates.
Why do you only use photos from places like PDPhoto.org?
Most stock photo companies (and even independent photographers on community stock photo sites) release their photos under restrictive licenses that dictate what you can and can't do with them. These restrictions apply even if you're using the photo in a derivative work like a template (assuming they even let you do that to begin with!).
I have no problem with photographers and stock photo companies doing this since they are, after all, trying to make a living. So, in order to honor their licenses and to make sure people who use my templates also honor them, I simply do not use any photos that are subject to them :) That's why I only use public domain photos from places like PDPhoto.org and Wikimedia Commons (which has an entire section dedicated to public domain works here).