Making the Most of Templates in Your Designs

By • 6 years ago with 17 replies already

It’s no secret that we love customization, personal touches, and making something your own. One of the best ways to let your customers add their own style to your designs is by using templates. Here are our latest tips for creating templates and making them work for you and your customers.

Make custom design areas into templates

The easiest way to show customers that they can personalize your design is by turning the various text or image elements in your design into templates. Templates can be anything from names and monograms to wedding photos and anniversary dates – any part of a design where a customer can add their own personal touch. Once you’ve added a text box or a template image, to make it a template simply select it and then click on the gear icon in the design tool. In the pop-up window, check the box for “Make this a template object”. You’ll notice that we already select the option “Allow editing on product page” for you. We recommend keeping this option checked, as it will show your templates to your customer as soon as they visit your product’s page so they can make their own updates without clicking the “Customize It” button.

template tips make template objecttemplateeditonspp


Use descriptive template names

In the pop-up window for setting up your template, you’ll see two fields: Product page label and URL parameter name. While they will start out filled in with a placeholder name for you, you can use these fields to improve your design. When you allow editing on the product page, what you name your templates matters! What you enter for “Product page label” will appear as the name of the template field under “Edit this design template” when a customer lands on your product page. Make it clear which part of your design is which.

You’ll also want to think about the order in which these different template fields will appear, as ordering them properly can make for an easy and attractive experience for your customers. That’s where the “URL parameter name” comes in. Your template fields will show up on the product page alphabetically in order by URL parameter name. Try naming the URL parameter names of your templates so that they are alphabetically in order as close to the order of the actual elements in your design (e.g. top to bottom and left to right).

template names2 templateeditonspp

Time-saving tip: This is also how you can tell the design tool if you have template elements in a design that are duplicates or mirrors of each other. For example, say you have a double-sided product with the same design on each side, featuring a monogram template. If you use the same URL parameter name for both of these monograms, when the customer changes one of them to their own monogram letter, it will automatically make that same change for the monogram on the other side of the product. However, keep this in mind as something to avoid for templates that are totally different – make sure you use a unique URL parameter name for each, or you’ll only be able to edit one template!

Use templates freely, lock wisely

One of the more frequent pieces of feedback we’ve seen from customers is that they would like more opportunity to tweak a design to exactly their own specifications. Overall, giving your customers more options to create something that really speaks to them gives them a great experience – and lets them buy exactly what they want! If you watched our latest Zazzle Chat, you might remember some examples that we shared of how allowing more customization can bring you more sales. A beautiful wedding invitation design can become personal stationery when you’re able to remove all of the wedding elements, or a Valentine’s Day card can become a “just because I care” card when you can edit the greeting from “Happy Valentine’s Day”. Your customer might see a new life for your design that you might not have thought of, and you’ll end up reaching a broader audience.

templates alt use

If you do decide to “lock” certain elements of your design (prevent a customer from editing or deleting them), do so with thought and care. Something like your Designer attribution might be something you want to ensure is printed on every order, but not allowing a customer to edit or remove a greeting or embellishment could mean that your customer moves on to another design that allows more flexibility.

Make it easy on the customer

The biggest piece of advice we have when it comes to templates is this: think like the customer! What parts of your design would you want to make your own? How could it be personalized? Which part would you want to change first? Try out customizing your designs yourself, looking at the design and the whole experience through the eyes of a customer. Was it easy to find what to customize and how to make the changes? Did the order of the templates make sense? Did everything change as you expected it to? Trying out the customization options on your own designs can help you set them up correctly, and you might even notice something you can improve upon (or something you missed) that isn’t immediately apparent when on the Designer side.

Use templates instead of duplicating

Besides loving everything custom, we’re big fans of the idea of quality over quantity. Templates can also help you avoid creating duplicate products. For something like a family name or monogram, you don’t need to create a version of your design with every letter of the alphabet. Simply make it a template! By allowing your customers more freedom in personalization, you end up with a huge variety of resulting products all from one original product in your store. Win-win!

Bonus tip: Do you have designs that make for the perfect frames for your customers photos? Show them off! Using real, eye-catching photographs as template placeholders lets your customer imagine their own beautiful shots front and center in your design. Stay away from generic white boxes with “Your Image Here”.


How will you use templates to make your designs shine?

Like it. Love it. Share it.

17 thoughts on “Making the Most of Templates in Your Designs”

  1. Hi Liz, Thanks for the review – very helpful. I always thought the URL Parameter had to be a number – image1, image2, etc. I guess I never knew that you could alphabetize it . . . really good to know. So if you name it, it will be in alphabetical order and if you use number, it will be in numerical order – right?

    1. So glad to hear that was a helpful tip! Yep, what you specifically use for the URL parameter name is up to you. If you prefer to use numbers, it will order them in numerical order – I used the alphabet strategy as an example. Whatever makes sense to you for naming the URL parameter for ordering is fine!

  2. “Try naming the URL parameter names of your templates so that they are alphabetically in order as close to the order of the actual elements in your design…”

    Unfortunately, naming your parameter fields alphabetically has no impact on which order they are shown to the customer. I once tried putting a number at the front of every field name hoping that they would be listed in numerical order, but that didn’t work either. As far as I have been able to tell, it seems to mostly put the fields in the order that they were created.

    1. Hi Debi,

      Sounds like something went awry here – the URL parameter name should order them alphabetically or numerically for you. Feel free to contact our Support team for specific help in taking a look at your templates.


  3. Thanks so much for explaining how to affect the order of template fields! I had not been able to figure that out. If only that were something you could adjust after a product was made…

    Could you explain the fit/fill options that show up for images under the gear icon in the design tool? I suspect that fill should be the default for templates so that customers don’t end up with white space around images they switch out, but it’s not something I’d thought about changing until recently.

    Thanks for the tips!

    1. Hi Claire,

      Glad to hear this was helpful!

      The fit and fill settings for templates are a little different than the fit and fill settings within the main design tool, but have the same idea. Using “fit” will mean that a customer’s image will be sized to fit into the area where your template image was, matching the width of the original image without cropping so the customer’s entire image is visible. Using “fill” will mean that the customer’s image will be scaled to completely fill the area where the template image was, and the image may be cropped within the design to completely fill that area. For either of these settings, the customer will be able to drag the image to position it as they’d like (“cropping” here doesn’t mean a loss of any part of their image).

      Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks, Liz. That does help.

        Would using the “fill” setting under the gear icon ensure that my image would fill any extra space if the customer changed phone models? E.g. from an iPhone 6 to a larger 6 Plus case.

        I know customers can resize unlocked images but I’m not sure how many know how to, and I’d like to make it as simple as possible for them.


        1. This would depend on the specific product and the specific design, but yes “fill” should work for what you intend. Thanks!

    1. Hi Nancy,

      I would recommend trying out our tip of using eye-catching placeholder photos in your templates to show how customers can use your frames, and make it clear that the design is meant to be personalized. You could also check out our Designer & Associate Handbook for tips on promoting your products. Best of luck!


  4. I think it would be much less confusing to designers–especially new ones– if the first slot currently called “Product page label” were instead presented as

    “Product page label, ie, Name”

    …and the second slot, currently called,
    “URL parameter name:” were modified to numerical designations and instead called,

    “Text order (ie, 1, 2, 3)”

    I always prefer English to programmerspeak.

    But I did find your piece informative. Thank you! Finally, after 7 years of doing this, I realize I’ve been doing templates all wrong! Now, I can start doing them right.

    1. I’ll pass along that suggestion! Glad to hear this was helpful, even if the labels are a bit confusing 🙂

  5. I found this article very inspiring, I cant wait to create some beautiful frames for my customers. It has given me lots of ideas for designs with movable parts that are fully customisable

  6. Great info, thank you Liz, especially for the URL parameter name tips. Back as a newbie, I had locked all my images & never used templates {{{sob}}}. Also appreciate the clarification of using fill or fit (as on phone cases).

  7. Liz,
    Thanks a lot! you know how great it is when you find what you were looking for! I was looking for template ‘how tos’. It’s high time I start using them.
    As a bonus I got ‘fill/fit’ and ‘frames’ info. I have tons of frames ideas, but haven’t really used them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with us: