After a fresh installation of WordPress, you get presented with a theme they choose for each install. At the moment of writing this post the default theme is Twenty Thirteen. If webmasters want to use it, they have all the right they want but it comes with no frills. So ultimately you are left with having to re-design each element to suit your needs.
Not to mention, you may have to develop your own conditional statements to get the desired effect you need on particular landing pages. So today I would like to share with you the reasons of why choosing a free WordPress theme is not always the best decision for a developer or a designer.
Lack of Support
Getting no or very little support from developers can be an extremely frustrating experience when starting out and “some themes” live up to this reputation.This is where a lot of new designers can come unstuck when first starting out because they think that “free” means something of more value then making a purchase. I know I’ve fallen into this trap of downloading free themes when I first started but have moved beyond that now and have learned from my experience.
Downloading a free theme doesn’t always mean you wont have help at your disposal. In fact some web developers even give a few themes away because It shows what makes them unique. This can contribute value to the wider community of bloggers and website owners who need to get started straight away. If you are offering support for the theme you’ve developed, please make sure you offer top notch service and have the necessary resources in place for managing this.
Having a theme that is reliable is second to none in my opinion. Some themes that you get don’t always cutit on reliability and can throw up an unknown amount of errors. So what do I mean as far as “reliable”? The HTML code has to standard compliant code that can be validated by W3C and work in all website browsers. Reliability means more then just validated code, it has to measure up the latest standards of efficiency, security and maintainability.
Having non-reliable code inside your theme can cause PHP errors to show, CPU’s can reach there limit very quickly if there is a loop within the code that continuously runs. Security is a big issue effecting websites today and that’s where us as developers have to keep up with the latest WordPress standards for developing new code within our site. Being able to maintain a themes code to work with new plugins can be challenge for all WordPress developers but is well worth the effort.
No Specialized Features
Some people rave on about how good their free theme is to other people, but is it really that good? Most of what I’ve seen you can only add free plugins to get some of the desired results that you need. That’s where a premium theme really comes into a world of their own because a lot of them come packaged with the latest code to setup the pages correctly.
By that i mean particular landing pages where you can control the sidebars, footer and top menus. Another problem I find using a free theme is the lack of having shortcodes installed. Shortcodes allow you to insert pieces of code easily without having to know how to code. Imagine how great it would be if you wanted to have a great big download button on your page but couldn’t do it because you had free template theme installed.
No Unique Feel
I find there is nothing better then creating a website that looks unique and beautiful that not many people have seen before. This is where a free theme really comes unstuck because a lot of other people could have exactly the same look as other websites. You have to customize just about everything including fonts, footers and menus included. I think most website designers understand this already because if a business wants to stand out you have to create a unique presence not only a unique selling propitiation.
May not be Updated
Wouldn’t it be frustrating if you got hold of a theme to find out later that updates don’t exist? Or sometimes its even worse when updates take forever to happen. I remember when Ultimatum took a long time to update from XHTML to HTML5 but it was well worth it. Ultimatum is certainly not for free but you should check it out when you have some time.
May contain unwanted links
I have heard of free templates containing encrypted links within their footer, whether this is true or not leaves questions to be answered. I wouldn’t like links to be going to some phishing websites that are spammy! Would you? I would raise concern over the security of ones website if there were outbound links to websites I didn’t know about.
No SEO benefits
In fact the only SEO benefit you do get from a freely downloadable theme is having the ability to add more content to your site. You wont have the extra benefits of adding your own title or meta descriptions to your pages or posts. Most SEO experts out there know that adding your own custom title and description can boost your click through rate on the search results page. You’ll have to install a plugin from the WordPress repository if you want your titles and descriptions to be working on your free theme.
You get what you Pay for
This saying is true, you definitely do get what you’ve paid for and website themes come into this bracket as well. The fact that you get so many benefits from a premium template far out weighs the minimal benefit you get from a free template. If you can make a return on invest then the theme pays for itself. In fact, even if you do spend a bit of money on the one you think is right, install it and then decide it was not right, you can most of the time get a refund if its under 30 days from purchasing.
Time Consuming for Development
This one can really take the p#ss out of developers who are wanting to get their job done quickly, efficiently and have it look professional to their clients. The amount of time I’ve personally spent on free themes nearly isn’t worth developing a site at all and rarely sees a return on investment.
Your probably asking yourself by now should I really be getting a free template for my website. Only you can make that decision, but if you could learn from my experience then I hope you will make the right decision and get yourself a professional template that will rock your business to a new level of success. You have the freedom here on Webafest to browse our range of premium templates.
There is a link at the top of this page could themes, if you click on that you’ll be taken to the right page. I would like to round this post off by hearing your opinion about the freely available templates you can get on the WordPress marketplace.If you really want to get a theme for your business, I recommend you read my post: The Most Quality Business WordPress for 2014.