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One of the most difficult tasks for a web designer is updating legacy websites.

Legacy websites are websites which have existed for many years.

But what do you do when the template itself was developed with outdated code and the site needs a complete design overhaul?

How do you fix it without having to cut and paste the content from every existing page to a newly designed one?

In the early days of web page development, using tables for page layout was standard operating procedure. Reliable, hierarchical navigation menu systems did not exist, so it was easier for a developer to create multiple templates for various sections of a website with tables for links.

For example, one template might cover category pages, while another would cover catalog pages.

One site I developed over the course of 14 years had 6 active templates. The site badly needed a new design and new code, but how could I update the templates and 300 pages of static web content without spending weeks of labor?

The answer came through experimentation with a two-step process in Dreamweaver.

With trepidation and fear of making a colossal mess of things, I backed up the site I wanted to modify.

If you have ever updated an entire site with Dreamweaver’s feature to discover you have destroyed valid code in every document, a good back up is a helpful thing, so I recommend you do the same before attempting my solutions.

The first step in replacing an existing template is to make a copy of the outdated template and give it a new name. After you have created a new page design for the site’s new layout, save the new page as a template in Dreamweaver (choose, which will also exist on your new template by default.

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