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By: TTa Cruver – Bayshore Solutions Project Manager

Did you know there are approximately 3,000 free website themes on WordPress alone? If you’ve ever thought of building a new website or redesigning your current website and you’re on a budget, you’ve probably ran across or toyed with the idea of leveraging a website “theme”.

So how do you know when a website theme is a cost saver or a budget buster to your website design project? Before we can answer this question, let’s define what a website theme is and how it is used.

A website theme is the aesthetics of a website with predefined fonts, colors, page layouts, and animations. These items live within the CSS (cascading style sheet) and transform on the web page.

How are website themes used?

Website themes are used in conjunction with content management systems (WordPress, Kentico, Sitefinity, nopCommerce) or static web pages and are also referred to as ‘skins’.

How much do website themes cost?

Website themes vary in complexity and some are free while others have an associated monetary cost. You can expect to pay zero to a couple hundred dollars for a robust theme.

Now that we understand what a website theme is, how it is used and the associated cost, let’s circle back to our original question;

When is a theme a cost saver? When…

  1. The website design is flexible and there is zero need for a custom design.
  2. The theme is a fit for the content management system, if using one.
  3. The theme styles (i.e.: the appearance of the navigation menu, icons, colors, font, etc.) align with the company brand.
  4. The theme functionality (i.e.: the navigation menu) is a traditional drop down and not a mega menu, and satisfies the website functional requirements.
  5. The theme page layouts and structure are a fit for all the website’s content needs.

A theme is a budget buster when…

  1. The website must have a unique design and be aesthetically set apart from other websites.
  2. The theme will not work with the content management system. Keep in mind, content management systems have versions and themes are not compatible with older or new versions. Therefore, check the version of the content management system to confirm a particular theme is compatible before purchasing.
  3. The styles do not align with the company brand. Icons are typically the culprit for when a theme does not meet the brand style guidelines, therefore review icons and ensure they are a fit before getting started.
  4. The functionality is not quite right or missing all together. Themes, like any website files may be adjusted or enhanced but if the theme doesn’t do what you need it to do then find another one. Custom coding a theme is high risk to timeline, budget, quality and integrity to the code.
  5. If custom functionality is needed the theme will likely not have the layout to support the customer screens; see #4.

A good rule of thumb for website themes is, “What you see is what you get”. If you don’t see what you need readily available in the theme, then it is not a fit for your project needs and will end up being a budget buster.

Website themes are meant to save on design and front end development costs, so before you leverage a website theme, be sure to ask yourself the questions above. Understanding if they are a good fit for your project needs will ensure that they are win and a cost saver.

Bayshore Solutions’ can help you understand the alternatives and their implications when faced with the decision of how to best approach your website, with full strategic consideration of your business’s brand and budget parameters, functionality requirements, and web performance needs. Contact us today to learn more.

 

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