A theme is a set of files with already coded layout, logic and functionality tailored for specific CMS (most often those are Drupal, WordPress or Joomla). As usual in this business, each solution has its pros and cons. Some of them only occur in specific situations or are hard to predict before the development process. CuCo have “built” many sites before using an off-the-shelf theme, and naturally we appreciate an off-the-shelf theme is very appealing due to the cost/speed in comparison to a bespoke build, however we would ask you to weigh up the pro’s and con’s as to whether this is the correct solution for your requirements, please see below.
- Speed of development Using a ready-made template should save a hefty amount oftime, since we essentially skip time-consuming project phases: design and front-end coding. If we know exactly what we can do with the chosen theme, we’ll decided how it will look like and work as a final product we only need to install it a configure using predefined elements and functionalities.
- Cost Same as above.
- Plenty of pre-built designs available The number of themes available to buy isalready huge so we can find at least few interesting themes which can meet our expectations.
- You can’t try before you buy until you purchase the theme you have no idea of howgood it really is.
- No guarantee over the quality of the off-the-shelf themes.
- The design is not yours – you don’t ‘own’ the theme outright, it remains ‘for sale’ toany and all other businesses. Some themes for example, are used by tens of thousands of sites.
- Low flexibility of the coded elements Off-the-shelf themes are often designed to usewhat is given out of the box and not to change most of the elements. It shouldn’t be a problem to overwrite CSS code, but it happens that any changes, but especially those in the HTML structure will generate problems. Some of the elements might be coded without flexibility or tied with other elements so when these are being changed errors would occur or the desired effect could not be archived.
- Not every extension/plugin will be 100% compatible Another thing is the use of 3rd party plugins can also complicate the process while they can generate conflicts in the code, which would require additional development time which could be a considerable cost.
- All themes are written by a third party developer and are only supported for a short period of time (maybe a year or two after release). When the developer stops supporting the theme you will no longer receive bug, compatibility etc. updates and this would mean the site may eventually break with future software updates.
- When the developer stops supporting your website it will no longer receive security updates, this would mean the site is more open to hacking/malware etc.
- An off-the-shelf theme is written to appeal the the broadest market – there will be a lot a bloat in the code base, and a lot of sections in the back-end to allow for a lot of functionality that not everyone will need or want. The more code bloat you have the slower your site is, and slow websites are heavily penalised by Google.
- The theme may not be optimised for SEO.
- The theme may not be optimised for conversion – it might look great, but there’s no guarantee that it will be best optimised for your business, audience and overall conversion rate. This is because it wasn’t designed with you or your customers in mind but just a generic stores customer.
- With an off-the-shelf theme what-you-see-is-what-you-get. You will have limited customisation and an inability to make your website truly reflect your brand or function in a way that helps your business model – unless you break the theme, then it no longer has those important updates and support.
- If you want intellectual property over your website you cannot have this.