Every few days while offering WordPress help in the Official WordPress IRC Chat on Freenode I get this question from a new WordPress user or a so called designer who is not a coder….
Where is the best place to get high end Paid WordPress Themes.
Well the first thing I think when I see this question is either this person doesn’t care about the way their site looks or they have more money then they know what to do with.
My personal thoughts about themes whether they be for a personal website or a business is that you want to put something up of quality that costs next to nothing. WordPress really was designed to offer this opportunity for most users but there are times when it is a good idea to get custom one off designs which can cost a lot or themes that closely match your topic which normally come in at around $50 for the starter package.
If you are going to purchase themes that cost hundreds of dollars there should be a specific reason behind your purchase. Maybe you run a Realtor website and need to purchase a theme that matches your brand or maybe you need specific features that expand WordPress to a more robust platform for e-commerce. In those cases paying more has a justification.
However for I would say 70 percent of users a standard free or low dollar theme will provide all or most of the utility you need to get started and if you are the 30 percent that need something custom you can hire a designer that is not scared of coding and CSS to make alterations.
I would say though when it comes to modifying themes .. especially paid themes .. you run into the ObamaCare horror story.
This is when Developers of Paid themes have a mind of their own and do not follow normal coding practices. They fill your theme folder with a dozen sub-folders and use includes to serve up chunks of code that would have been better off handled with a if else statement in a core theme file.
It can get to the point where many of these themes need to be rewritten before modifications can take place.
Simple Child Themes just will not handle all of the modifications and Updates you require and then your paid theme will become a custom theme.
So what is the best approach when looking for Themes?
Well the first thing you should do is browse the free themes available on wordpress.org . There are a number of decent themes on that site that can get you started.
The next thing you should do is look for free themes offered by custom theme builders. Often when a theme is rebuilt from the bottom up the old version will be offered for free but without support.
Finally you should shop for a design firm that is well versed in WordPress to make your Modifications. You may want to go back to the original theme designer but they may not provide this level of modification without a large payment. Boutique shops are a good source if they specialize in WordPress but I would probably stay away from the average design team working for large hosting companies. They may understand code but they normally do not specialize in WordPress support and that can end up costing you more in the end.
If you choose WordPress for your Content Platform you will need to take the time to gather resources, contacts and also learn about the software you are using.
WordPress is not just like using Microsoft Office .. it requires management of plugins, options and modification of your theme on an ongoing basis.
If you just can not do the work yourself .. find someone you can trust .. much like you might do for your car.