10 Best Templates to Borrow (i.e. Steal) Ideas From

I will soon, hopefully, be undergoing a new project for a relative of a very close friend of mine.  In doing so – since the potential clients are not well versed on the Internet, web 2.0 and the cutting edge – I decided to find a series of templates that would outline several different ideas and concepts.  It also gave me the idea for this post.  Basically the following list outlines 10 well done templates(or in the case of Zen Garden entries, simply designs) that you, potentially even as an experienced designer, should look to for inspiration, ideas and thievery.  Enjoy.

10.    Nautica01 – a simple, clean design.  Smaller width but one of the things I like most about this is the left navigation and the rollovers they do using CSS.

9.    The Holy Grail – basically just a wire-frame but a design I’ve stolen heavily from.  Not only clean and compliant – but SEO friendly as well since your content comes first in the markup.

8.    Deep Thought – a Zen Garden design.  A good example of disjointed design in that the containers don’t line up.  A good concept not utilized enough in web design.

7.   Pret-a-porter – another Zen Garden design.  The only example of a horizontal design.  This looks and works awesome in complaint browsers and degrades well in IE.  Horizontal design is not used much in web design – but when done right it can be very powerful.

6.     Ballade – a final Zen Garden design.  The way they make the graphics – the steps, bridge, etc – flow from container to container – simply brilliant.  A side mention for Zunflower since we’re talking about graphics – the shading gives the containers depth, making it a very powerful visual design.

5.    Plain 1.0 – a Six Shooter Media design.  I actually modified this for one of my first home page designs and learned a lot from the skills of this designer.  Very talented.

4.    Andreas01 – an Andreas Viklund design.  Now hosts his templates on OpenDesigns.org, but since I didn’t see this one on there it’s from OSWD.  Simple, clean, elegant – great dropdowns and rollovers, excellent use of a header graphic, nice use of background graphic to give depth and could easily be adapted with the holy grail techniques to shoot the SEO up.  So, by combining concepts from the two, you’d have an standards compliant, search engine optimized and graphically beautiful site.

3.    Andreas09 – another Andreas Viklund.  If you’ve looked through the WordPress themes, you might recognize this one.  Not only does it change from a 2 column to 3 but it’s also preloaded with 6 color schemes – my personal favorite being black.

2.     Plain 2.0 – another Six Shooter Media design.  An update/revision on 1.0.  Bolder graphics, excellent graphics use on the containers, excellent rollovers on the side navigation, and good font and font color choices.  Some web 2.0 flavor and methods as well as a bonus in a skip to content accessibility link.

1.    Thin Green Line – a final Six Shooter design.   This and Plain 2.0 could switch everyday depending on what mood I’m in with this currently being my favorite of his templates.  Overall, it’s not as nice a design as 2.0 but the top navigation with the animated gifs has just got me hooked right now.  As with the other 2 Six Shooter designs this could use some holy grail combination to push the content first and improve the SEO.  I would love to see what he could come up with just stealing the navigation from this and replacing only that part of the design on 2.0.  I just might have to try that in the future.

For more free templates, check out my del.icio.us.

Random Tidbit: Found this awhile back.  Apparently web2.0 is catching on since even some religious sites have used methods from it.  Very interesting.