Content First Expression Web Site Templates

The Content First Site Templates are for intermediate to advanced users of Expression Web. While other skill levels can certainly use the templates, at least a basic understanding of using css and html is required to edit the templates.

NOTE: The site template packages will work with ALL versions of Expression Web. While they will work with FrontPage 2003 there are major display issues in Design View.

Each of these templates is designed to present your content first in the html code which is good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well as accessibility. Search engine spiders crawl through your HTML and read it in the order that it's written in the page. If you view the source code for any of the content first templates or check code view from within Expression Web you will see the order the div's are presented. If you view in your favorite browser, you will see the masthead and top navigation show at the top of the page even though they are presented last in the html code.

  1. main content
  2. left and/or right column
  3. footer
  4. masthead
  5. top navigation

The templates have all been checked in SuperPreview online using all available browsers which include IE 6 through 9, Firefox 3.6, 4 and 5, Safari for Mac, and Google Chrome. Both Tina and I have tested them locally with other browsers including Opera.

Problems You May Encounter

Expression Web 4.0 SP2

Because the two and three column templates use a negative margin, Expression Web has a problem both displaying the pages in Design View and allowing you to work on the path to include files that are within the content area. In Design View the display of parts of the page will disappear occasionally or jump around.

When working with an include page, you will need to comment out the negative margin while editing the include path which will cause the content in the side column to drop to the bottom. When finished working you can then uncomment the negative margin and things will return to normal. This affects only the left column templates. We have bugged it with Microsoft and there appears to be no solution. Another method, which for me is easier, is to edit the path for the include file in code view.

I have not had much practice with videos but this one will give you an idea of the problem encountered with includes and the workaround. EW Bug Fix.

Expression Web 1.0 and Sharepoint Designer 2007

Expression Web 1.0 appears to have no problems displaying the three column templates or the two right column templates. There is also no problem with editing the path for the include file.

Opening either of the two left column templates does cause display issues in EW1. The left column navigation column drops below the content area in Design View BUT you can edit the path for the include file in Design View. View Screenshot.

Expression Web 2.0 and 3.0

Opening either of the left column templates in Expression Web 2.0 causes an initial display problem in Design View but quickly adjusts. There appears to be no problem working with the include file path in Design View. None of the other content first layouts appear to have a problem in EW 2.0 or 3.0.


The menu included with the site templates displays in all browsers. If viewed in Firefox with View > Zoom > Zoom Text Only the menu increases in size but will not break. Other menus may cause problems for which you will have to adjust the style rules for them to work.

Example: Beautiful CSS Centered Menus

A special thank you to our testers especially Martha Bagwell and Jill Muir.

Example Sites

Example of sites that are currently using one of the Content First templates.


Each of the templates is available for download as a web package, zipped files, or as a default template package.  The default template package is the correct one to download if you want to add it to the default templates available from within Expression Web.  Detailed Instructions Working with the Content First Site Templates

Please send all comments and any problems you have to Tina and Pat

Download the Complete Set of Content First Default Templates - all seven of the templates in one package.


License Information

These Site Templates are licensed to you under Creative Commons by the owners, Pat Geary and Tina Clarke. If you are a web designer/developer and want to use these for clients you MAY NOT claim them as your own design either through a link on the site or a copyright meta. You may put:

Designed by Pat Geary and Tina Clarke of Migrating from FrontPage to Expression Web and edited by 'your name' and 'your link'.

You may use these Site Templates for commercial or noncommercial usage. You may add, tweak or change them in anyway you wish. You may NOT include any of the Site Templates in any packages for resale or distribution or download without full written permission from Pat Geary and Tina Clarke of Migrating from FrontPage to Expression Web

 Pat Geary & Tina Clarke.

Copyright 2011-2012 all rights reserved Pat Geary and Tina Clarke