WordPress Themes Can Save You Thousands

Posted by on Feb 26, 2013 in Software Tools

With every new website that we build, we use a self-hosted install of WordPress. In fact we believe that WordPress is simply the best platform available to establish a web presence, increase your online reach and build an online platform. When you’re creating a new website for your organization, the way it looks and feels is often paramount. Having good design is important and creating a website with a great design has never been easier. That’s why it’s never been more important for business owners to understand WordPress Themes and how using one can keep your costs down.

Why Use a Premium WordPress Theme?

Really, the question should be “why should you NOT use a premium WordPress theme”.  Using a WordPress theme can potentially save you thousands of dollars. Why? Because time is money and if you don’t use a WordPress theme, then you’ll have to pay web developer an hourly rate of $100+/hour to custom build CSS, HTML & Javascript.

You can save thousands of dollars, if you’re able to identify and use a premium WordPress theme that doesn’t require customization to meet your website needs.

Why would you want to pay a developer to re-invent a design when there are literally thousands of premium WordPress themes to choose from? WordPress themes are ridiculously easy to purchase, download and install. The very best themes make it easy for a monkey to make changes to your site. In fact, the better the theme, the less likely it is that anyone will have to edit a single line of code to build your website. Admittedly, I’ve never built a website for a client without getting my hands dirty in the code, but I can tell you that the nicer the theme the more likely it is for a client to feel comfortable making changes to the site.

What Makes a Good Premium WordPress Theme?

Shopping for a Premium WordPress theme is just like shopping for anything else on the web these days. Sometimes it’s as easy as searching for terms like “wordpress theme for schools”. You might get lucky and find just the theme. If it’s from some lone developer on a website that doesn’t look professional it might be risky to just purchase the theme and start using it. Thankfully there are now online marketplaces to buy and sell premium WordPress themes. Sounds like a fun place to hang out yeah?



Themetrust is a Great Way to Browse Premium WordPress Themes

Just take a look at Themetrust.net. You can search for themes and themes are categorized. With each WordPress theme, you can read reviews, look at comments, read documentation and of course preview the theme live. Some of the things I’m looking at are the following:

  • Does the theme look good and match the overall feel of my clients organization?
  • How many times has theme been bought?
  • What do the reviews say? Anything less than 4 of 5 stars is suspect.
  • Look at the comments tab in ThemeTrust. Is there activity? Is the theme developer responsive? He/she better be.
  • Does the them have a good documentation to tell me how get the most out of it?
  • Is it a fully-responsive layout (adapts it’s layout to be mobile ready)?
Themetrust is probably the most popular of theme marketplace sites, but there are others. These online marketplaces are a win-win for everyone. Theme developers can make money selling their themes and web development companies can find great themes.

Tweaking a WordPress Theme, What Can You Change?

So  you’ve identified a great theme and it comes really close to matching the original vision of the site. But of course there are a few design aspects that you want to tweak. This is where it can get hairy. Of course if you have a good web developer building your website there’s nothing about a theme that can’t be changed. But the fact of the matter is that some things are really easy to change and others aren’t. This becomes a tricky conversation when a client wants to make a tweak to the styling but the developer realizes she’ll have to drop down into the PHP and actually edit the theme. This requires a different skill set then just knowing CSS and changing the line-height of some header text (for example).

This is one of the important aspects of keeping the costs low and it’s why you need an honest web development company doing your site. We can keep the costs down if you use the theme the way it looks out of the box, but when you need the blog to have an entirely new layout, for example, well that’s not an trivial task and most developers will not work for free.

The better the theme the easier it is to make styling adjustments; thereby avoiding custom development.

Here is a list of design attributes that can usually be changed easily:

  • Typography
  • Colors
  • Simple layout changes like margin and padding

What if You Want a Truly Custom Designed WordPress Site?

Some organizations need and want a guaranteed one-of-a-kind website. Sometimes your branding just requires a custom design. Any web development shop should be able to create a customized WordPress theme from the ground up. Of course this is going to cost more time and more in developer resources. You’ll have a unique site that matches your branding exactly; just be aware of how much you’re spending to build your site and what you have left over to start driving traffic to it. What’s the point of building a gorgeous thousand-dollar website if you’re not going to use it to drive people to it and ultimately generate new leads (however you define a “lead” in your line of work).

That’s a great place to end this post. Design is important, but the real question you need to ask yourself is “Is my website working for me?”. You can have a best looking website in the world and it’s becoming increasinly easy to do that using WordPress themes. But if no one knows about it then who cares?


[By the way, in case you’re curious, this website was built using the Chameleon theme by the good folks over at Elegant Themes.]