Have you ever used a theme or a template on one of your freelance web design projects?
And I’m (in my humble opinion) a good designer and coder.
But recently, GDB got a huge makeover. We were hacked pretty hard at the end of last year and so early this year, we rolled out a brand new look, hired a new writer (April Greer), and made a resolve to publish some epic and super-helpful content this year.
But in my blog post announcing all the changes that we’d be going through in 2012, I got an interesting comment that I didn’t expect. One reader named Andy asked:
“How come you bought a ready-made wordpress theme if you’re a designer?”
You can read my quick response to Andy’s question here, but today I wanted to first pose a question:
Is it okay to use templates and themes as a freelance designer?
I’m sure we all have a different opinion on this topic, so I’d like to hear your opinion on the whole issue. Before I continue, leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think.
If you’re a freelance designer, do you use templates and themes, or do you always build from scratch no matter what?
Why I chose to use a theme this time
For a long time, I have been a pretty strong advocate of the “if you’re a designer, design it yourself” mentality. But recently, when my site was hacked, I learned that sometimes other priorities take precedence.
For example, GDB had been down for almost a month, so:
- I was anxious to get GDB back online (both for my audience – you guys – and for my revenue stream). Designing my own custom theme would have taken me another month or so.
- I needed an updated look. So I searched around at MojoThemes.com (which I highly recommend, by the way) and found one that I really liked.
- I wanted the cleanest, least hackable code I could find. I didn’t want to be hacked again, so I needed something that I knew would be as secure as possible.
So at that point, I decided it was a good decision to use a pre-designed wordpress theme.
Your design business HAS to be profitable
Another reason I went with a premade theme is because my design business HAS to stay profitable. And so does yours.
I had a choice to make: take time to design a theme for GDB, or spend time working on pending client projects.
While GDB helps bring in a little passive income each month, the bulk of my freelance income comes from clients-which I imagine is the same for you.
Using a template on certain projects can save you time and money, making your design business more profitable.
The flip side
The other side of the coin, of course, includes a few very understandable arguments. Designers shouldn’t use themes because:
- They are harder to customize.
- They are less original.
- They are less tailored to your client’s specific needs.
- They can be hard to understand quickly.
- They make you look like a less-capable designer to some people.
I get it.
I understand why some designers like using templates and others hate it.
So I compromised.
I decided (before buying my theme) what kind of look I wanted for my site.
Then I went searching for it. I found something REALLY close and then I made a few minor adjustments (that I will keep changing over the life of the theme) to meet my needs.
Over to you
So what do you think? Is it okay to use templates and themes as a freelance designer? Why or why not? Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you think about the whole thing.