Whilst I frequently buy and use premium themes for small content websites and side projects of mine, I’ve always preferred to have custom designs created for my main websites. Lately I’ve been questioning how important it really is for your websites success to have a unique WordPress theme that sets your website apart from crowd.
The current design was designed by my friends at Blog Design Studio in early 2010. I loved the design when it was first created though over the last few months I have begun to realise how dated it looks. So many great features have been introduced to WordPress over the last year and a half and I the current design does not take advantage of any of it (post formats, custom headers etc). Recently I have attempted to ‘patch the site up’ by installing plugins that add functionality such as the home page featured slider. All I am doing is delaying the inevitable conclusion that I need to change the design here.
Does Your Website Design Have To Be Unique
I have a lot of great ideas for what I want in my ‘perfect’ design though hiring a great design company to build it will cost at least a few thousand dollars ($5k+). With Christmas looming and an long trip planned around South America afterwards; that’s not something I want to spend if I can avoid it.
Having a unique design for your website is great if you can afford to hire someone to create the design you want; though not at the expense of functionality. This is the dilemma I am facing. If I won’t have the budget for a great design for at least another 6 months, should I keep the current unique design even though it is outdated or should I choose one of the thousands of themes already available and simply add my own logo?
The more I think about this situation, the more I believe that modifying is my best option until I have the funds to have the design I want created.
Theme prices range from free to around $100, though many great designs are available for under $50. This represents great value for money. As I am not a designer, a great design would cost me a few thousand dollars. Every year WordPress adds more great functionality so after a year or so most designs will have to be updated if you want to take advantage of new features that have added (which costs more money). This isn’t a major issue if your website is consistently earning over $3,000 per month but WP Mods unfortunately does not (yet!).
Although using a premium theme for your website design means that your site isn’t unique, there are benefits to going down this route. First of all, many users may not even realise that your website is powered by a premium theme and those who do probably don’t even case. It is also highly unlikely that a rival website would use the same design as you therefore your website design should at least be unique within your own niche.
A free design or premium design requires no or very little outlay so if you don’t mind spending spending a little time modifying a theme you could easily change your website design once or twice a year (though obviously you don’t want to change too often or your readers could get annoyed). This would allow you to choose the latest and greatest designs when you see fit.
I’m not going to rush into anything though I am going to keep my eye out for a good theme or framework that does everything that I need :)
Is Your Website Design Unique?
I’m interested in knowing if WP Mods readers are using a custom theme on their website or if they have simply modified a free or premium design. Blogs such as Site Sketch 101 have been using a modified premium theme (Papercut theme from WooThemes) since launch and it doesn’t seem to have slowed its progress though the majority of top blogs do have a custom design; particularly those with over 5,000 subscribers.
How important do you think it is to have a unique WordPress theme?