I get this request quite a bit, “Hey, I found this fantastic theme! Can you customize it?” Of course I can. But it’s analogous to going to the house contractor and saying, “Hey, I saw this gorgeous house. Can you build it?” Sure, given the time and materials and funds, he can do anything. But maybe it’s not his specialty. Sure, he can do it, he can build you a Victorian, but maybe he specializes in ultra modern lofts. You’re better off having him build you an ultra modern loft.
Do you really want the cheeseburger from the Chinese restaurant? Order the chow mein. Better yet: order the special.
I’m writing this while the fire is hot … I just spent an hour on a theme trying to get the simplest thing done: add a page for a blog. Just a list of titles, excerpts, and Read More links for the site’s archives of blog posts. Simple enough. Of course, if we were using WOO Canvas, this is built in (in fact, it’s built into most themes). But for some reason, it wasn’t built into this theme. OK, fine, bit of code into a page template and we’re done. But it took me half an hour to figure out that the regular theme didn’t do it and another half an hour to style and tweak (simple) code to make something very basic work correctly. One hour of work billed to the client for something that shouldn’t have even come to my inbox.
This is a perfect example of why I’m leaning (read: falling) more and more towards using only themes built by reputable companies. When looking for a new WordPress theme, ask these questions:
- Future-proof: is the company behind it updating themes on a regular basis? Have they been around a while? Will the continue to be around?
- Maintenance releases: check the “change log” and see how often the theme has been updated. Once in three years? Or lots?
- Support: if you have access to it, are there lots of support questions? Are there answers? Relatively timely responses? Helpful?
- Style: is it a beauty? Or maybe better, can it be easily beautiful?
- Code: is it clean? Built to standards? If you have to ask, it probably isn’t.
- Popularity: do they get some 5-star reviews? Tons? How many 1-star reviews?
It’s one of my least favorite things to do: bill a client for something they don’t understand, didn’t really ask for, and don’t understand why they’re paying for. But it comes from the product we bought in the first place. Did we give it the stamp of approval? I’m giving fewer and fewer stamps of approval lately as these issues are coming back and biting me–and my clients.