Many website owners experience the pros and cons of using a predesigned, prebuilt website theme. Numerous clients have asked us to use a prebuilt theme to save money and time. While both the free and purchasable themes available can save money and time, expectations of predesigned themes must be managed. Most users of a new theme will not know the details of the theme’s functionality until it is installed. There are many advantages and disadvantages that our clients have come across with these themes. We would like to share some of those with you.
Predesigned theme advantages:
- Most themes offer a large range of layout options and are quite flexible in their design, look, and feel. It is common that the user can change the color, the background, the fonts and add functionality to their website fairly easily.
- You can maintain your site relatively easily. Updates are usually just a click on the theme update or at worst a file (ftp) upload.
- Many are well designed and allow a good level of customization options without a need for coding.
- Many are mobile friendly and read well on phones or other mobile devices.
- There are thousands of quality and well-maintained themes to choose from and they are easy to change.
- Less expensive option than a static website because the template is already built, has a consistent layout, and design. Once you add your content there is not as much to do to complete the website. This speeds up time and that greatly lessens cost.
- You don’t need any costly or special software in order to use a prebuilt, predesigned theme.
- Many have built in functionality that help to save time. This can include widgets or plug-ins that you do not have to search for. These functions can assist you with social media links, contact forms, side panels, slideshows and many other options that users may find useful.
Predesigned theme disadvantages:
The biggest disadvantage to using a predesigned theme is that it may not be quite what you expected. Anything can be changed in a prebuilt theme, but most changes will likely require coding. If you need to have someone else change the code there will most often be a cost. It could be extremely difficult for most developers to provide you with a cost estimate upfront because they will first need to learn the capabilities of the theme before they will know what it will take to change it.
- It may not have the functionality your site will need, including being mobile ready, etc.
- It may not look the way you thought that it would look, out of the box. If it doesn’t look like the demo then you will most likely have to have a developer make changes to the code to assist you with the final product.
- In most cases the developer has not worked with that theme in the past so they would have to learn as they go to see how everything functions and discover what changes can be made within the administrative area. The developer will then be able to determine what, if any, coding will be needed. This could take time and potentially increase your cost. There is always a learning curve with new prebuilt designs because each theme is different with different capabilities.
Most likely there is not enough information about these prebuilt themes and their default settings to know everything you will need or want to know about using that theme. Each theme is different. You should not expect that the theme’s description or demo will provide all possibilities or limitations. It merely showcases what could be done, but not typically what you should expect “out of the box”. So even if there was an excellent description, there would likely be things that were encountered along the way that could not have been anticipated. There is really no way that there could be information posted that would address all scenarios specific to your needs.
Ultimately you are in control of the final product. If you want your website to look a very specific way let the developer know. After the theme is installed and they have an understanding of the theme’s capabilities, a developer should be able to give you an estimate for any change requests you may encounter.