Should You Use a Theme for Your Site?

By April 19, 2010Design

The world of CMS’ have come a long way. It used to be only a person with code and html experience could really wrangle something like WordPress, Typepad, etc. Many web firms built their own management systems to trap you into a monthly fee (are you stuck?). Not to mention the difficulty in moving platforms (portability).

Design was it’s own complication. The world was nearly all custom and the few themes that existed were more built for other designers as a framework. My how times have changed. With CMS’ getting robust and more accessible to designers we’ve seen a gold rush of ?beautiful themes with fantastic administration panels.

The Classic Design

The classic mentality of a webshop not too long ago (and still is if your brand is large enough) is to build custom assets from the ground up running anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000 USD. It can be money well spent but for most of us that cost is a huge barrier to entry.

As Nuance Labs had to change into a consultancy, during the earliest part of the recession, we were faced with small and mid-sized business not having the budget or care for a 100% unique web property. The longer we’ve been doing work with clients the more we’ve found that the bottom line again and again trumps the custom line.

Is a Theme for You?

Themes can be a fantastic way to reduce your design budget but even a great design has caveats.

I’m Building a New Site

A new site that has no content can be a dangerous place for themes. You see a beautiful theme and think of all the possibilities. This blue sky moment is good but you have to understand that theme makers want it to shine brightly with content and images. ?When that becomes your playground each element, bullet, image, will need to be something that reflects you. ?It’s like the faux people who are in the frame you buy. ?Removing them you’ve still got to take a good picture.

Content can be primed, it can be paid for, but content is essential.

I’d like to Migrate an Existing Site

Sites can always be migrated. Your existing site may have many assets. ?Like moving (physically), some things will go to the curb while others will want to be salvaged. ?Certain branded styles and content pieces will want to be brought over. ?They may need polishing but that’s all part of a proper migration/upfit. A good web designer can look at your old elements, size up a themes needs, then bring it all together.

Your content will also need to be revisited. ?Are you writing in the correct voice, to the right audience? ?Are you trying to target your niche or are you just fielding far and wide. ?We have some fantastic content partners that work with new or existing site owners and help you gather your resources for migration or new creation.

Getting new content crafted and put in place is important. ?The world is now about how you reflect yourself & partners. A good copywriter will help take up your pen, rounding out your assets without taking up your time (staying at your most productive) but keeping your voice.

WordPress Theme Recommendations

We work with a variety of well designed theme makers/vendors. ?Just like the themes themselves the vendors will each have a personality. ?Proper due diligence is important to not getting frustrated along the way.

Pagelines ThemesWooThemes - WordPress themes for everyoneWordPress Themes by StudioPress

Quick things to check out:

  • Examine a theme for how your content will replace theirs.
  • How will your graphic elements be used, or can you see farther where theme modification might better make your brand?
  • Find a vendors community, make sure everyone is happy and if you already have something you want to change search for the idea and see if anyone else ran across the same thought.
  • Lastly know when to ask for help. ?Your time is important and if you find it quickly being eaten up, hire a professional.

I hope your upcoming web project doesn’t look as hard. Every step builds upon the previous so take your time and you’ll get there in no-time.