Lecturers in higher education often consider the incorporation of web technologies into their teaching practice. Partially structured and populated course site templates could aid them in getting started with creating and deploying web-based materials and activities to enrich the teaching and learning experience. Discussions among instructional technology support staff and lecturers reveal a paucity of robust specifications for possible course site features that could comprise a template. An attempted mapping from the teaching task as understood by the instructor to the envisaged course website properties proves elusive. We conclude that the idea of an initial state for a course site, embodied in a template, remains useful and should be developed not according to a formula but with careful attention to the context and existing pedagogical practice. Any course template provided for the use of lecturers should be enhanced with supporting instructions and examples of how it may be adapted for their particular purposes.