Buying a Pre-Made WordPress Theme? Beware of the Forest.

You’re in the market for a new website, and you’ve heard of a site that sells themes. You find one you like, check out the reviews, and the theme has a fairly good star rating. The demo helps you imagine your website looking just like that. You take the plunge, lay down $75 and purchase the theme. It’s at this point the plug-and-play nightmare of ready-made ‘theme templates’ has just begun unraveling.

First and foremost, if you’re not sure how to purchase a theme for your site, you may buy an HTML theme, which isn’t the same as a WordPress theme. It can be converted but will take some work by someone with php and WordPress knowledge, so you hire a developer and now your $75 theme just turned into a $750 theme…and it’s not even a custom website theme. If you do buy a pre-made theme, make sure it’s built to work with the system you have. The same can be said about hosting plans.

Assuming you did get a WordPress theme, you go ahead and get it uploaded and now you’re ready to add some text and create some new pages. You visit your home page just to see how it’s looking so far and you’re met with something that looks like your site is totally broken, and looks nothing like the demo.

You spend the next few hours going through menu items in the dashboard one by one to check settings and see if there’s something you’re supposed to do to make it look like that demo. You find the “Options Panel” (the name may vary) where you need to set up a bunch of stuff. Another hour later, you’ve gone through every setting and figured out what they all do, and set them the way you want. Still, on visiting the home page, you see a pretty broken site. You add pages and some text, hoping that like an empty pillowcase it just needs to be filled to take shape, and still it’s not quite what you need. At this point your out of coffee, and pretty frustrated with the whole situation. You close the site and either decide to deal with it some other time, or decide you need to hire someone to help get this thing set up. Now your $75 ‘plug-and-play’ theme is on it’s way to still costing you several hundred dollars.

WordPress is a fantastic CMS that is built on an amazingly robust and strong framework. In fairness to “ready-made, customizable” theme developers, it is difficult to offer a wide variety of customization settings in a way that means the theme looks fantastic right out of the virtual ‘box’. That said, if you think a pre-built theme may be a good solution for you, check your expectations be aware that plug-and-play themes are rarely that. Expect to spend hours setting it up, or if you’re short on time you may need to hire someone to help you set up the theme. Consider that a custom website solution may be less hassle and more of a value than a pre-built theme in the end. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.

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