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This question may land me in a group that is unprofessional yet dare ask.

I have been using default template (Protostar, beez) and configure client needs and so far reasonably successful.

I understand even as a developer as the codes of this templates are open source, I can start with these templates as base to come out with a totally different template.

So my question is if developers start from scratch or start with an already existing template for designing new templates?

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I also use protostar as a base template to develop a custom one in many cases. There is nothing bad with this approach. I can even do the same with other templates. And there is always the case where I build a template from scratch, or by using any of the available template frameworks out there. Also with the time I have developed my own master template that can be easily customized to suit my needs.

So I could say there is no standard way but I tend to prefer to custom build it to avoid excessive features, code etc that most commercial templates have and are not actually needed for specific projects.

What I will end up doing usually depends on the project. Budget, time, design and other features, special requirements, my own mood, will for creativity, availabilty and my personal working style and experience are in the mix.

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The case for using a standard template

I tend to use the same base template (from a leading template developer) for most projects.

Template features which I don't use can be disabled to keep the template sufficiently lean.

I customise the template for each project via a custom CSS file and they all look very different.

Over the space of a few projects, I build up a library of CSS customisations that are useful for subsequent projects.

Starting from scratch every time would not be an efficient way for me to work and would add additional cost to projects.

Additional benefits of using a standard template (instead of developing your own) include:

  • the template developer has likely tested the template across all the popular browsers and as long as your CSS customisations aren't too ambitious, your website won't need a lot of cross browser testing
  • the template developer keeps the template up to date with security updates and fixes for new versions of browsers etc and these can be downloaded and applied easily with little extra work
  • the template developer can provide support with any issues which minimises the time you spend troubleshooting issues
  • choosing a template from one of the better template developers can help streamline future Joomla migrations (assuming the developer creates an equivalent template to upgrade to)
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In my opinion, it can depend on the complexity of the site.

For example, if a client wanted a fairly basic site with a custom design, I'd duplicate Protostar (default Joomla 3.x template). Then strip out all the bits I didn't require, such as parameters etc, and then go on to the design.

If the client required a fairly complex site, with a fair amount of module positions available, fully responsive on all devices, I'd normally use Yootheme's Master 2 Theme which is free, as it provides a much better foundation.

There are other template providers that provide free templates (such as Rockettheme), but a lot of the time, it can come down to personal preference.

Starting from scratch will result in more or less 5 times the amount of work (depending on experience), so I'd definitely suggest using a pre-existing template to built on top of

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