There are many websites out there such as Themeforest that offer pre-built themes at the fraction of the cost of getting a website custom built. This can be a great way for a start up business to get an online presence economically but over the years we have run into many horror stories with these and now recommend to clients that they are better off investing into a custom built site for some of the reasons below…
First and foremost is support! When you buy a theme from one of these sites you are at the mercy of the Developer. You can’t pick up the phone and call when you have a problem, you can’t pop into their office. In some lucky cases you may have a direct email but most support issues are sorted over a ticketing system or in forums waiting for replies that can sometimes take days to get your answer. This is all assuming the theme you’ve purchased does have a level of support, in some cases the developer may decide to give up on a theme or invest their time elsewhere and you will not get any reply.
Like any profession there are various levels of skill and quality when it comes to web coding. When purchasing a theme it may look good on the surface but there is no telling how well the site is coded behind the scenes. Should you run into issues and need to source another developer to troubleshoot, it will likely take a lot longer for the developer to wrap their head around how the site has been built and how to fix.
Many themes are not regularly updated, or they require the user to constantly chase up theme updates which the user is oblivious to until of course an issue arises. It’s too often that we see plugin updates cause sites to break because the theme is outdated and only works with the version it was originally built for. This is bad practice in the industry but the user isn’t to know this when they purchased the theme!
Many themes pack loads of features into the theme and are advertised as ‘the only theme you will need’. In many cases these are overkill for your requirements. With extra features can sometimes result in extra bloat in the website code (scripts running in the background). This can cause the website to run slower then if it was optimised for your specific needs only, and there is a greater chance for security issues over time as the many plugins depreciate. The fact that most of these sites have features that are never used also means extra time is often spent learning how a specific theme is put together and how to modify.
Buying a theme is not the end of the road to getting your website live. Any theme will require an installation onto a server so some basic web knowledge is required. Whilst many come with instructions on how to install the theme there is a certain level of assumed competence such as creating a database, unzipping files, uploading files to a server etc.
At Argon we are happy to take inspiration and functionality ideas from pre-built themes but we build all our WordPress themes from scratch to suit each clients needs and ensure a better long-term experience, support and scalability.