We’ve all heard about it. Trusting clients pay exorbitant amounts of money for web design services, and they receive a pre-designed theme used by hundreds of other websites. If you’re in the market for web design, this should upset you because you may be paying for more than you’re getting. It isn’t fair or ethical for you or web design professionals.
… The job of a designer is to carefully consider the needs of the client and the constraints at hand and create a solution. – Chris Coyier – Seen Here
All I can do is offer my own opinion here.
Website Themes Vs. Website Design
Website Theming is when an individual acquires a pre-designed web template from a third-party and adapts it to fit your style, mainly by changing some colors and applying your logo in the header.
Website Design is when an individual will build your website from scratch, or almost from scratch, giving it the custom look and functionality you want.
What’s the problem?
If you are a professional designer (as in, a client came to you with web needs and you are going to build a custom site for them, and you are going to charge them more than a few hundred dollars) then using a template is, pardon me, bullshit. – Chris Coyier – Seen Here
There isn’t a problem with using themes unless a “designer” opts to use a pre-made theme and pass it to the client as an original design. It’s misleading, and unfortunately, a ton of people that do it.
You should never be working from a theme if the client believes that you are creating a professional bespoke website. – Shane Hudson – Seen Here
As the client, you should know what the designer’s intentions are.
When is it appropriate to use a theme?
There are many arguments around this topic between web designers. In my opinion, I believe themes are great to use under two conditions: 1) under a limited budget, and 2) under a limited timeframe. Themes are meant to save time and money, so they are perfect for low budget projects, personal websites and blogs, and for those that want to learn more about clean markup and code.
Pros Of Theme Utilization
- Its inexpensive (unless looking to outright buy the exclusive use of a theme, in which case you may as well just start custom)
- It’s quick (if you have the content ready, you can have your website up and ready in a couple hours)
Cons Of Theme Utilization
- It’s hard to work from others’ code (a certain amount of time must be taken in reverse engineering the setup to understand what’s happening)
- It’s bulky (themes are often packaged as general as possible and will include a lot of unnecessary code and functionality, leading to increased load times and inflated bandwidth)
- You have to work from inside the theme and adding function to it will probably be harder than first anticipated
- Hundreds if not thousands of websites across the internet can potentially look just like yours.
In conclusion, as a client you should weigh your options, your needs, and your resources. If you don’t have a huge budget (less than $1000 for website creation) nor a lot of time and technical know-how, then perhaps a pre-made theme is your best option. They look good and they work.
If you want something more custom and polished, contract an actual designer and a front-end web developer. Make certain that they are providing you with what you want and that you understand what methods they are using in order to achieve your goal.