HTML / CSS Theme Links


I have an upcoming project where we actually don't have a designer involved at all. In order to get the design, we need to use some of the free template sites out there. I've spent the day looking up different sites and weeding through their free and paid designs, here's what I've found.

The concrete 5 marketplace

The concrete 5 marketplace for themes. There are hundreds to choose from, unfortunately in all different kinds of quality. The good thing about this site is that we know for sure that all of the themes are compatible with the content management system we're using.

Theme Forest

Lots of really high quality designs, plus you can see how popular the design is to see how many other people have used it before. Most come with multiple color schemes and photoshop files. Apparently some themes may be duds or require advanced skills to implement, that shouldn't be an issue. Refund policy seems almost non-existent though, so anything bought there will probalby be final.

Dream Template

Large template site, need to make sure that whatever layout looks good is actually a tableless html/css layout, ones in the linked category should all be the correct style. 59.95 to download up to 50 themes for use on client sites. Templates in the CU3ER category will need to have a different slider implemented for concrete 5 CMS, this is a flash based slider and flash is bad, we'd want to use a javascript slider. Looks like a lot of good resources, free templates, free layouts with just markup not design, menus. Templates are free to use on client sites, company sites, personal sites, but not ok to resell.

Template World

Lots of different templates, unsure of quality of all of them but they appear to mostly have multiple page types and javascript / css / html. Look out for CSS XHTML Div-Based Design. $75 for premium access to download any theme, no way to buy just one theme.


Premium and free templates, creative commons license. $8 fee to remove link from the footer. Unsure about reselling in marketplace. Premium templates may not include html, might only be photoshop files. Interface for browsing is a little clunky, lots of popup windows.

4 templates

Pay templates, look to be pretty decent quality for low price. Looks like most themes include html/css/photoshop file.

Free CSS Templates

Fairly simplistic themes, probably pretty easy to convert. Lots of themes which is good. Must link back to the site in some way in the design, so may not be the best for some sites, can probably find some way to get the link removed if we pay for the theme, not sure.

Template Monster

Filter by type "Web Templates" or "Website Templates" or "CSS Templates" then category. Lots and lots of templates to choose from, most come with photoshop files and html/css. Quality of themes may be a little lacking according to some sources, also templates may seem too 'stock' without some customization

101 Free HTML Templates and Layouts

Bunch or random themes, may be some good ones in there

CSS Template Heaven

Lots of designs, most don't seem that great but they come with multiple page layouts, psd, sliders, etc. Browse CSS templates, not wordpress themes or zen cart templates.

If people have used any of these sites, please let me know by leaving comments in the footer.

Overall, using a pre-designed template can really save you a lot of money on your web project. I'm fairly certain that on most of these templates it would be less than 8 hours to do most of the theme conversion to turn it into a full concrete 5 theme, depending on complexity of the theme and how well the html/css are written.  It can actually work against you to use a pre-canned theme if it's not a quality theme. You might end up with greedy CSS rules that eat into the actual styles for the content management system for instance, which can take many hours to fix while you scope the rules to make sure they don't interfere with the CMS.  But typically you're looking at leaving out several thousand dollars going to a designer to make a theme, then hundreds of dollars to convert that theme to html and css.  You still have to pay for the time spent converting the theme into something that can be used with concrete 5, but that's typically a pretty quick process.

In other news I kind of wish that I had an actual designer to work with on making some generic themes.  I can make some really high quality layouts work flawlessly in concrete 5, often with small custom blocks for interior content callouts, or random block areas that keep site content fresh and related in the sidebars of the design.  I think it could be really lucrative to start going after a high-end design niche in the concrete 5 marketplace, making really specific themes for vertical target marktes, perhaps doing 3 or 4 themes for realtors for instance where you'd customize everything to work with some of the existing blocks in the marketplace for selling properties and listing pages on maps. You could spend some time defining what most of the functionality would be, come up with some html wireframes, then work on just skinning that code base several times.  I think it could be a good way to get more ongoing income without a lot of ongoing work. 

So yeah, if there are any designers that want to start going after the concrete 5 themes market, I'm interested in being your development partner.