1. Audrey

    You are so right! Design is the ‘packaging’ for any product. Personally I am great with design; give me a paper and pencil and I can do a whiz-bang job. But tell me to put that on a website and I’m totally lost. I know nothing about computers. Fortunately, I have a son who can take my ideas and transfer them to a workable website. Not everyone is so blessed to have a webmaster in the family.
    A website should have a ‘theme’ or say something about the basic ideas of the website. Most website themes are fairly generic and would do for many applications, but if you are doing a website about recipes, for instance, the design should have something to do with food.
    When I was first thinking about starting a website I had some definite ideas about what I wanted. I spent many weeks hunting around for pictures, comparing site styles, what the different functions of a site are, etc. I didn’t end up with what I had first intended, but rather what was available, and what I felt ‘worked’ for my purpose. As for ‘putting it on the shelf’…yes, I’ve thought about it. Throw it all out and start over. Do something different; a change of scene. But I do like the way it is and I’m comfortable with the way it works so it will stay.
    On the other hand, I do have several “other” sites in mind…


  2. Mark H.

    Never purchased one, but sure have messed around with .css files a lot to try to get them to look the way I want them to. Like you, with very little satisfaction. There is such a wide spectrum of blog-type themes that there really isn’t much need for personal tweaking to a high degree, in my opinion.

    However, if you want to look different than anyone else, getting a sharply designed theme, and purchasing the entire rights… expensive, but makes real nice blog.


  3. Andrew

    I have purchased a number of premium themes, in the hope that they will inspire me to create something that I am proud to put my name to, so far of the 5 premium themes, I’ve used them all, but none have stuck around long enough for me to create a theme I am happy with.


  4. Steve

    $35. One pro-theme. Though a very nice theme, in the end it didn’t work well for what I wanted my site to be and from that experience I learned that I would only be happy building my own theme, which I did using the Thematic Framework. It’s nothing earth-shattering, and I’m still refining it, but I like being in charge of the whole thing, from Masthead to Footer.

    I’m a graphic designer, so having a custom look is important to me. Though I’m not a full-time web developer (I work mostly in print media), I know enough to either get my work done or dig a very deep hole to climb out of (I’ve had experience with each). Additionally, I like mucking around with BBedit – working in code is a nice break from print design and illustration work. Variety is what keeps work interesting, IMO.

    I no longer buy themes, but I’m more than willing to spend a little for a useful plug-in.


  5. Robert!

    I never purchased any premium themes, but I have looked at enough themes to be sure I maybe will never find what I’m looking for. It’s hard to find just that theme that does everything you want. Maybe I have to much demands. But I’m also a code noob and I dont have a clue about coding or re-coding a theme. So I want something thats ready and meets my demands, out of the box.


  6. Rene Ramos

    I’m going through the same problem. I’ve used about 5 themes in a year but learning by myself html and css is extremely hard and after all this time I know it’s mostly trial and error to fix things or just leave it alone. I take a couple weeks trying to find an answer and at the end of the day I end up mentally exhausted. I decided to take a learning course and get the basics of design. I can’t afford to pay a designer $100 each time something messes up or wanna add a new thing…


  7. Johan Sandstrom

    I say ‘Welcome to the club’
    … feel the same
    What theme/template for Audio interviews… snippets, Video productions…text blogging and a nice News Letter to collect traffic and friends in…?
    Any ideas?
    I am a rookie…and after four years have no traffic to write home about and subsequently very little to monetize./


  8. bobschecter

    Ouch! Who needs to be reminded?
    It is definitely information overload out there and it leads people to believe they can create modern marvels the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, only to end up with something more Rube Goldberg.


  9. David Gwyer

    This is (or should be!) a massively interesting topic for theme developers.

    As a theme ‘user’ myself prior to developing them I had similar experiences. I would love a particular theme design, but trying to apply that to my own site involved nothing short of a wrestling match!

    Now that I develop themes (with Scott Bolinger) we obviously begin with an initial design concept but we try to focus on user experience too. We are always looking for ways to make it as easier for users to start building out their sites.

    Going back to being a theme user, I guess the number one issue I had when using different themes was that every theme seemed to have a different way of doing things! This was confusing to me, and was compounded by my inexperience with WordPress itself at the time. Even though themes had (or promised to have) the features I wanted it could be cryptic to actually get something to work. Only by posting in forums for help could you get the answer you needed.

    Also, and this happened again an again, when I activated a theme, it would look a bit naff out of the box, only with a bit of TLC did it resemble anything like the theme demo, or like a site I would dare to show to others.

    We have addressed this last problem somewhat in our themes with a new feature we are still experimenting with. When you activate a theme you basically get an option to install some default content for that theme. This has to be optional in case you are activating a theme with existing content. The default content consists of automatic creation of a few pages (sitemap, contact, about, blog), a nav menu (adding pages, and setting the theme location), and populating a widget area with one or two widgets.

    There are many other things we could do I’m sure, but hopefully we are on the right track.

    How about everyone else? What good/bad experiences have you had as a theme user, and what would have made it easier to get a theme to do what you wanted it to do from initial activation?


  10. bobschecter

    @Johan Sandstrom

    I believe the gist of Jefro’s post is that the theme is a figment of ones imagination, and most often it’s your imagination, not the reader. The general rule of thumb is keep it as simple and basic as it needs to be for the type of content you have. Try using a freebie like Suffusion that you can morph into as much, or little, as you need.

    And many, in fact a great many of the more trafficked sites are using the default them (which is actually very good). Great content compels people to engage. And an engaged group, even a small one, are more apt to trust you, and more likely to buy from you.


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