What do you do when the very thing you create to make a living off can supposedly come pre-created? This is a challenge most web designers and developers must face, and the challenge comes in the form of themes.
A theme is a predesigned and prebuilt website, the idea is , you browse for a pretty looking theme online , purchase it, install it on your server and hey presto, you have yourself a fancy shining new website that looks great, is fully functional, and most importantly cheap and fast to set up. The only task you have to do is upload your content, images, products and logo and you’re done.
Naturally, being designers and developers, we don’t like this idea. Imagine being an artist who owned a studio, had a gallery and sold their images to the public. A customer walks into their studio with several images they bought from Dunnes Stores and asks the artist to pick one, touch it up a small bit, frame it and package it. Its not exactly a project the artist will be jumping for joy with enthusiasm about. In fact its the opposite, its a blow to morale. However the artist is still running a business, they will still reluctantly do it to keep their customers and to have a successful operation.
This same philosophy applies to web design and coding. A passionate coder takes pleasure in building things, solving problems, applying good code and being creative. A passionate web designer takes pleasure in transferring a customers idea or theory about their business and painting a picture out of that. Take this away and the passion is gone. When you lose passion, you lose enthusiasm, when you lose enthusiasm you lose attention to detail and quality , the end product being something neither the developers nor the customer is particularly proud of.
The next issue with themes is support and extra features. If the theme was built by a developer over in America in his spare time between jobs and they decide they’ve had enough of earning $200 for a months work, they may vanish off the face of the earth and get a full time job. The only people left to support it are the people who installed it, namely the developers. There is a cost to this, this theme wasn’t built by the developer so they don’t know it all too well.
The final issue is originality. Can you imagine as a customer you found an absolutely fantastic looking theme, asked the likes of Surge to install it and support it only to realize 3 of your competitors online are using the same theme. You’re not exactly portraying yourself as the symbol of uniqueness, professionalism and most importantly, seriousness regarding business.
If asked will we install a theme for a client? We will of course, admittedly it’ll be done reluctantly, but it’ll be done nonetheless. But if you are very serious about your business then we will strongly recommend against it.