Are pre-set WordPress themes the sign of a low-brow publication? Is a custom theme the sign of a professional? These were the questions that used to plague me when it came to my personal website. I battled the questions for quite a while, but I just recently came to the conclusion that using pre-set themes – premium or free – is totally acceptable.
Maybe I’m behind the times, or maybe I’m succumbing to a personal defeat. But for some reason, with the quality of current pre-set WordPress themes as they are, I just can’t see a reason why it isn’t okay.
The Price Of Originality
For the longest time, I felt that in order to make an impression on your web audience using WordPress, you needed to have some sort of customization for the site design. To be more specific, I believed that these customizations needed to be so advanced, that web travelers would not feel as though they were coming to the same site every time they typed in a different URL. Inherently, this meant pre-set themes were totally out of the question for me, and for a non-coder, that was kind of scary. Unfortunately, the price for a totally custom theme was just too high, and I had to pick my way through code to modify it.
However, over time, I noticed that WordPress designers started mass-producing pre-set themes. The thing was that these themes were different than those that were typically for used for Blogger or even MySpace. They weren’t trashy or plastered with images of teen pop sensation Justin Bieber. They were very professional, and that’s what was confusing for me.
At the time, I was adamant against using themes for personal websites. I felt that it lacked originality, and it was the sign of someone who didn’t know what they were doing. However, I believe that all of this has changed.
Embracing Mass Production
I believe that we are now in an era of web design in which pre-set themes are not the sign of a “rookie”. In fact, with cost-effective web services such as Elegant Themes, I believe that it’s the total opposite. There seems to be a general understanding these days that custom WordPress design is sometimes hard to come by, so for personal sites, it’s not a cardinal sin to use a design for your site that somebody else is using.
Furthermore, there’s a nice mixture of free and premium themes available on the web. However, there is the question of whether or not premium themes are a rip-off when there are plenty of free themes floating out there. Personally, I’m a fan of the premium themes, but I feel as though there are some custom themes that are just as good.
Does this take away from the fact that custom WordPress design is impressive? Not at all. However, I now believe that it is more acceptable to use a design that was already made. Furthermore, I believe that it is also acceptable to modify these designs and make them your own.
Customization Is Still Okay
Speaking of customization, I’m a fan of WordPress themes (particularly premium ones) because their designers make an effort to allow users to customize them. You can change the colors, the logo, and even the background. Furthermore, the code is readily available for you to edit. These designs are meant to be easily customized, and that’s pretty nifty in my opinion.
Of course, there’s the case of whether or not these themes cost professional coders potential jobs, and unfortunately, I have to say that they do. I believe that there are some individuals who would originally have bought a WordPress theme at full-price, but after finding a nifty customizable premium theme (such as the Standard theme), decided to go that route. But on the other hand, I believe pre-set themes provide jobs, too.
Once again, consider the business design of Nick Roach’s Elegant Themes. The guy has designed several themes, but he offers them all for a yearly price, and even when the subscription runs out, you still get to use whatever you have downloaded. Furthermore, you can use his designs on any site you want. With that in mind, I believe themes provide an opportunity for designers as well.
Bottom line? I think it’s totally fine to use pre-set WordPress themes. They aren’t gaudy, and it’s obvious that their creators put a lot of work into them. However, that’s just one man’s opinion.
Do you think pre-set themes are acceptable to use for personal sites? What about business sites? Are premium themes are a ripoff?