Why brands should avoid commercial WordPress themes.

Every so often we get an enquiry from a brand who has already found a WordPress theme that they want to use for their new website. We always try to advise against commercial WordPress themes and, if the client is insistent about using one, we don’t take the project on.

There’s good reasons for this. The arguments against brands using commercial WordPress themes are numerous and in this post I’ll try to briefly explain them.

Before I get into it, a bit of a disclaimer. This post is by no means suggesting that all commercial WordPress themes are terrible and you should avoid them at all costs. There’s a time and a place.

But, for brands trying to build a successful online presence you absolutely should not use a commercial WordPress theme. Here’s why….

Quality

Some of the commercial WordPress themes available may look nice and seem as though they do every single thing you could ever possibly want to do, but what guarantee do you have of quality?

When buying a theme you’re essentially trusting someone you’ve never met or spoken with before. Quite a huge risk to expose your brand to.

There’s no bulletproof way of knowing the background of the people who built the theme. In some cases themes are sold including hidden links and malicious code.

And just because a theme appears on a seemingly reputable marketplace like ThemeForest, it doesn’t mean it’s any good.

Not built for your brand

If you buy a theme you aren’t buying a website that is built around your brand’s personality, the needs of your business or the needs of your customers.

Chances are, from a visual point of view, it won’t be consistent with the rest of your brand.

The result of this is a website that isn’t going to perform at anywhere close to its potential.

Support

Good support is an critical part of every successful website.

If your website uses a commercial WordPress theme and something goes wrong, who is going to fix it? Chances are, it won’t be the person you bought the theme from for £35. Even if they do, it’s very unlikely this will last forever or cover anything remotely complex.

WordPress, and all good quality plugins, will receive regular updates. There’s always a chance that conflicts could arise and, again, you’re going to need support to help overcome these problems.

Flexibility

Even if you find a theme that exactly suits your requirements now, what is to say that it will be flexible enough to adapt as your brand grows and evolves?

A good website should be able to grow with your brand and there’s no guarantee that commercial WordPress themes can provide this flexibility.

Portability

The purpose of a theme is to define the presentation of content. Many commercial WordPress themes contain features that define the content and functionality of the website itself.

“Theme lock occurs when a WordPress user cannot change his or her theme without gutting most of the site’s functionality. Once the theme is deactivated, it deactivates things like shortcodes and custom post types that were registered by the theme.” – Slobodan Manic

The result of this is that using a commercial WordPress theme locks you in and prevents you from easily being able to migrate your content if you change your website at any point in the future.

Bloated code and poor performance

Theme marketplaces such as Envato exist to make money. Authors who sell their themes on their platform are also trying, understandably, to make money. That’s all fair enough, but it means that they build themes to appeal to the broadest range of customers possible.

They do this by making sure their themes include literally every bit of functionality a customer might need. They come with an endless list of plugins, templates, scripts and so on. Even if you only use 10% of the functionality in a theme, chances are a load of extra code and unnecessary scripts are slowing your website right down.

Security

WordPress is powers around 25% of the websites on the internet and is therefore a big target for hackers. Most security breaches occur when an exploit occurs on a vulnerability in a popular theme. Recovering from a hack is a time consuming and labour intensive process.

A perfect example of this was the Revolution Slider vulnerability a couple of years back. Many of the most popular commercial WordPress themes included the Revolution Slider plugin. Even if it wasn’t in use it was still vulnerable, compromising websites on a huge scale.

What a bespoke WordPress website gives you that commercial WordPress themes can’t

At TAC we build our websites on solid foundations using a framework that we’ve developed over a number of years. Everything we do is built from the ground up meaning we can assure the performance and security of our client’s websites.

We work closely with our clients to build websites that complement and enhance their brand and help deliver a consistent message to their audience.

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