Even as a WordPress developer, I would not claim that I’ve never bought any WordPress theme. Of course there are projects that require a ready to use theme. Either because of some very small budget or a client that already bought a theme and insists on using it.
So, a more precise topic would be “Why I try not to buy WordPress themes”. And I have many reasons for it:
1. Standing out
I often notice that WordPress has a bad reputation in some sectors. In my opinion this is based on lots of WordPress agencies and freelancers who buy themes and plugins and blindly building websites with it. Not considering pagespeed, search engine optimization, usability and security. I don’t say that all WP websites based on bought themes and plugins are bad. But if you have the knowledge to write your own theme or a child-theme based on another lightweight free parent-theme, I think you should do so. This will make you stand out from every WordPress freelancer/agency which hasn’t got the knowledge.
2. Extending knowledge
Writing WordPress themes is a good start for every web developer who already knows the basics of HTML, CSS and JS and wants a soft start in PHP Development. Everytime you write a theme, you’ll understand WordPress and it’s structure better and better. By writing your own themes someday you’ll be able not only to fix bugs in your own but in every other theme. This automatically increases confidence in your own skills.
3. Increasing Confidence
Once you have written a few basic WordPress themes you are much more confident. This isn’t only an advantage for yourself but also for your clients. Just picture a client meeting for a project with some unusual or seemingly hard requirements. Instead of going through themes and plugins in your head to build some functionality, you can simply say to yourself and the client “That’s no problem, I’ll figure this out”. Such an attitude also increases confidence and trust between you and your client a lot.
4. Knowing what’s going on
Ok, this point might be something only I’m experiencing… Everytime I install one of those big multi-purpose themes from a marketplaces, it comes with so many features, JS Libraries, Pagebuilders, Plugins that I end up feeling like I’m loosing control over the system. I always find myself trying to delete and deactivate all the rubbish I don’t need or don’t want to use. Also the whole update procedure can be really time consuming, if the theme itself and three to four plugins also need some kind license key or other form of authorization for updating.
Well, this depends on many aspects of a website, like the server, images, CDN,… But if you use a simple basic web server for a small WP website most of the themes I bought over the last few years slowed down the site dramatically. Even those themes, that have build in cache and promote good pagespeed. This often follows from the fact that many of those themes use pagebuilders and load lots of JS, CSS and font files.
This is probably the reason why most of my clients ask for a custom built theme. No matter which in which sector the clients are, they all want something, that stands for their companies and values. It’s important for them, that they have an individual website which doesn’t look like every other site. I admit that this can also be done with some of the themes you get on the market, but I think that it’s not only about the optical individuality but the way a custom made website makes the client feel about it.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, not every client has the budget for a custom theme of course. For me especially at the beginning of my freelancing career this wasn’t a problem at all. I often invested more hours than I got paid and wrote a custom theme, even if the budget has been very low. I knew that this brings not only value to the clients website but knowledge to my own business. The more knowledge and confidence you have the more worth is your own work, which results in better hourly rates over time.