An auction template can really spruce up an eBay listing or add your own personality to your selling page. But how do you go about selecting one? While some sellers may be talented enough to write their own templates, or can tell whether a template is well coded, others don't have the time or skills to get involved in "coding" for eBay. So, can we choose a template based on looks alone? Not always ...
Color and Style
Watch out for graphics overload
In considering a template for your items it is easy to get excited by all the available graphics, but make sure the included graphics don't overshadow the product you are selling. Also examine page loading times. When considering a template, ask the designer about for the graphics overhead - and try to stay below 50K for the ancillary graphics (icons, borders, buttons, etc). Experienced designers are able to reduce and compress those images for quick loading. If possible, view the template from a dialup connection to see what a large percentage of your prospective buyers may be experiencing.
Where to find Templates
There are huge numbers of templates offered for sale on eBay. Unfortunately, they are finding their way into many different categories and are becoming somewhat loosely distributed. However, these two links will take you to most of the available templates:
Avoid templates designed for websites, or as part of web-authoring tools, as they are not likely to conform to the restrictions eBay places on listing codes.
You will find that many template sellers have moved their digital items to the classified ad format so that they can continue to offer lower-cost digital delivery. The classified ad connects you to the designer, but your transaction will occur outside of eBay and no feedback will be exchanged.
Custom Designed Templates
Judging the Template
Easy to use and maintain
Template designers should provide easy to follow directions with their templates. All templates should include instructions embedded directly in the template code itself, and may additionally include general instructions that are posted on a website or in an acknowledgement email.
Generally you will need to get into the HTML code of a template for each auction. The designer should make it very clear in the code where your auction text should be added or modified. If you are not planning to modify any HTML coding, the designer should make sure the area for your description text is out of the way of code, so that you won't accidently delete or overwrite any codes while pasting or typing your text into the template. Typically, they will add specific comments throughout the code instructing where your auction information should be added.
Ask the designer to show you some example code that illustrates the kind of instructions they provide. Based on your own abilities and confidence level, ask whether they offer startup support and continuing email support or phone support. Some may offer support for a limited time or for a continuing fee.
If you are the type of person who would love to use a template but who doesn't want to see the code, you might ask the designer if they will code the template for use in TagBot or a similar data-entry environment. TagBot is a free program that hides the HTML and gives the user simple data fields to enter their auction description, title, terms, pictures, and other pertinent information. Many designers already do offer that option in one form or another.
Another editing avenue is this free online editor that will allow you to add your description and photos and see the results, without the need to code the HTML. The editor creates eBay-friendly code, and most codes will work there. If the designer has created any special effects, they should be tested first, so ask your designer to make sure their code is set up to work in the editor, if that is something you would like to pursue.
Before purchasing, ask your designer if their templates pass the RagTag test. Many of them have already run their templates through RagTag and will be able to say yes, while others may not have heard of the free tool. Over the past few years on eBay's HTML Help board, desperate buyers have brought us many problematic templates to fix. RagTag was developed for that board to quickly locate basic coding errors. A good designer will be more than willing to test their template code prior to selling it to you.
Is it eBay Legal?
- mouse trailers
- falling snow and hearts that extend onto eBay's part of the auction page
- scrolling status lines at the bottom of the browser that prevent users from seeing hyperlinks
- colored scrollbars
- changing the background, font, or link colors on eBay's part of the page
- the talking wizard
- message boxes that float over the page
A good designer has two choices: deliver templates that are eBay legal, or deliver non-compliant templates if a buyer insists on purchasing non-compliant code. If the designer is willing to sell a template with these modifications without first warning you that they are non-compliant, they most likely are unaware of the rules themselves.
Once you have purchased a template or contracted with a designer, you will have your own set of obligations to that designer.
Some designers might pass the image copyright on to you, and this might be the case with custom designed graphics that incorporate your name or logo. If that right is passed to you, you may do whatever you wish with the graphic, including selling it to others. In that case, most designers might retain the right to reuse underlying art or to display your graphic in their portfolio. Be sure that you understand whether you are licensing a limited use, licensing a broader use, or are purchasing all rights to custom graphics.
User Modifications to Templates
Some users feel confident enough to make that code change themselves. At that point the template no longer accurately reflects the designer's tastes and skills, and the designer may not wish to have their name associated with the changes. However, simply changing a graphic does not remove the fact that the designer has also created a layout and has some copyright interest in that portion as well. Some designers may allow an addition to the "template design by" copyright notice, such as "with graphics modified by xyz." Of course, if you have changed out the graphics and have significantly changed the way the page is coded, then the designer will no longer have a copyright interest in the template.
While graphics copyright is straightforward, the template copyright is not. There are only so many ways to code a feature, and HTML codes, alone, are not copyrightable. However, if there is a unique look and feel to the page, then that appearance may be copyrighted.
The designer may waive/refund the fees and the customer must remove/destroy any work received and is not allowed to use any of that work in any manner.
The designer, at their discretion, might allow the user to accept partially completed work at a reduced fee, to use as a starting point with another designer.
If the project is substantially complete, the user must pay the negotiated fee, but might receive permission to have the work modified by another designer.
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More Auction Template Help Guides:
• How to select a Template
• Mini-Templettes for Auction Inserts
• The 10 Design Basics (series)
• Adding Sound to your Auction
• Adding Auction Backgrounds
• Make a Seamless Background Tile
• JPG or GIF image formats - which should I use?
• Web-Size your Photos using Email or Paint