This post is all about ‘themes’ and why you shouldn’t think you’re being short-changed if your developer chooses to use one.

I had a conversation recently with a concerned client who was worried they were paying a lot of money for a website which uses a ‘theme’. They wanted to know if this was safe/secure and if the developer was ‘pulling a fast one’ with regard to doing the job.

This set me thinking about how anyone outside of the web development industry probably isn’t aware of the importance of themes and what role they play in the website building process.

Here’s a quick run down for you to skim:

  • Themes save time
  • Themes save money
  • Themes means your build is current for all devices
  • Themes mean great design

On Time:

No matter how bespoke your needs, your developer using a theme saves build time. The alternative is them reinventing the wheel for you. Unless you are prepared to add one (or two) noughts to your build budget – use a theme!

On Saving Money

This doesn’t need an explanation, but I will anyway. The developer wants a great website both for you and their portfolio. You may not have the budget for something incredible, but the developer still wants to build ‘incredible’. For this reason they will utilise every current and emerging feature, function and trend available in order to produce a great site for everyone. Themes make this happen. Themes also come bundled with extra plugins which the theme developer has either built specifically, or bought on your behalf to enhance their theme further. This all saves you more money than paying a developer to go away and build it themselves. In fact, you could/should ask your developer about any new/cool trends/features which they can implement and may be perfect to the way you do business. Very often it’s just a one-click install, and small configuration for them to add it to your site. So, definitely ask them!

On Being Current

The code for websites moves so fast, it’s hard for everyone to keep up! You might feel that a site which displays on your phone is current, but developers are planning for display on Watches right now. Therefore, 12 months from now, your website might not display so well on tiny screens. Theme developers know this is coming and can’t allow all their customers (ie: you) to be disappointed. Your developer knows this and has got their eye on that ball for you. Make sure your developer is using a good current theme, and ask them about tiny screens. The best developers will love that question because they are well aware of it and love their clients to be interested as well.

On Great Design

In order to ‘sell’ a theme to web developers, a theme needs to look beautiful and function really well. New themes are therefore, contemporary and responsive (resizes to all screen sizes). Theme developers build once and sell that unit many many times over. It’s not unusual for a theme developer to sell thousands of the same theme. But you wouldn’t know it because they can be completely customised to look unique. If you have a smaller budget, a great theme is the way to go. Without one you’re just hitting and hoping on success.

 

In short, using a theme is as close to standardising the practice of website building as we’ve got without regulation (and nobody wants that).

 

Once you know you’re using a theme you can ask your developer some additional questions:

Which theme am I using?
The answer to this question gives you the theme ‘name’. You can then Google it and find out lots more information.

What other themes has the theme developer created?
If you like your theme, you might want to know what else the developer has created.

Where can I see the Live Demo of it?
Viewing the Live Demo of the Theme allows you to see all the features and functions as the Theme developer intended them to be used. If you want a feature added, it should be easy to do.

I am using the latest version?
Caring about the latest version means you care about bugs being squashed and security features being up-to date. It also keeps your developer on their toes!

Since having my website built, what new features or functions have become available for it?
The changelog of the theme indicates what has changed on the theme. Many things may be minor, but some of them may be major, and again, makes the developer aware that you care about your website.

 

Shouldn’t my developer already care about my website? 

Yes, if they’re good (like me), but on the whole, no, unless you’re paying them to care for a long-time after the site is finished!

I only use WordPress with Themes because it gives the client the best solution which doesn’t tie them into any contracts and gives the most flexibility in future. Without Themes, I would feel like I’m short-changing my client: they deserve the most bang for their buck after all.

Mark

About the image:

This is a screenshot from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. A wonderful bookshop in Bath but dreadfully out of date. I’m hoping they are building a new website in the background, because Google will be penalising them in the Search Result pages for a site which doesn’t adapt to smaller screen sizes. It might look beautiful, but it certainly isn’t responsive or using any sort of theme!

 

What do you think? Does your website use a theme? Do you care? Did it save you money or cost you more?

 

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