A Beautiful Theme You Should Never Use

WordPress Themes Beautiful TemptressWhen you launch a new website, you want something that looks great, is easy to set up, and doesn’t cost too much. While some free WordPress themes fit the bill, I usually recommend finding a reputable, supported premium theme. Caution: You should think twice before choosing some of the most alluring, beautiful, feature-packed themes out there. Let me show you what I mean.

Beautiful demos

WordPress Theme-Screenshot of Ammon home page top onlyRich, lush, and beautiful describe the “Ammon” theme I’m showing here. Plenty of other beautiful themes exist, but this is one of the most striking. Keep in mind, a lot of time was put into making these demo sites look as wonderful as possible. Do not expect to install such themes, configure a few simple options, and have a site of your own rivaling their beauty.

Photos not included

WordPress Theme-Screenshot of Ammon theme and some sample photos from demoWhat would that beautiful theme you’re about to buy look like without the photos shown in the demo?

You do know the photos don’t come with it, right?

The allure of theme demos often comes down to photos painstakingly chosen for proper orientation, composition, cropping, and colors. Do you have the time and money to get photos like that for your own website? Are you prepared to put up more time and money to keep photos fresh and new?

Take away the artful photography from beautiful theme demos and, most of the time, the themes lose their luster.

The missing “Easy” button

WordPress Themes-Screenshot of Ammon Custom Footer Builder interface
Just one of the custom configuration panels you need to learn

Beautiful themes strive to provide eye-candy features like different fancy content sliders, attractive table styles, interactive tabs / accordions, and custom-designed looks like the Ammon store item page. Most of these features, however, require expertise beyond a standard WordPress installation.

While WordPress has a short and easy learning curve, understanding the ins-and-outs required to get the most from hand-crafted themes is another story. Remember that jaw-dropping, beautiful demo you saw? It took a complete grasp of all the theme’s non-standard content creation tools to make it look so luscious.

Locking yourself in

WordPress Theme-Screenshot of Ammon's Post Meta Box
Each post takes numerous custom settings that will not transfer to other themes

Train them all

Still in love with that temptress of a theme? Perhaps you don’t mind the challenge of learning the theme’s idiosyncratic methods of building fancy tables? If you drink the Kool-Aid for a sultry theme, I hope you have time to bring all of your site’s content creators into the fold, as well. Everyone creating content for your site will need to climb the same learning curve you did.

50 ways to leave your… theme

What happens when you’re ready to divorce this theme and move to a fresh look? Sure, right now you say that will never happen–you’re making a commitment, because this one theme has everything you could ever possibly want. Rest assured, that 7-month itch will come along, and you’ll see a different theme you think might be a better fit for you. Maybe you’ll rationalize it by saying you’ve “evolved” in ways you didn’t anticipate. Whatever the reason, breaking up with a custom “trophy” theme is hard to do.

Any theme that uses custom shortcodes, meta fields, JavaScript and CSS libraries to put on a pretty face will not just let another theme move in to your site without a fight. Unless the new theme you want uses the same custom content-creation methods and settings, you’ll be spending time and money re-creating all that content you thought would last forever. Usually, the only time custom content methods transfer over is if you choose a new theme built on the same framework–from the same theme developer.

Smells like a trap, my friend.

To build or buy? Sleep on it.

Before you jump at the latest sweet-smelling, lace-adorned theme, think ahead to how it really fits in to your website plans.

  • What will you have to do to make your site look even half as good as the demo?
  • Can you maintain that look over time?
  • How much will you spend, beyond the relatively small price of the theme license, to finish your site?

Junk in the closets

Your new website is like a house. You can buy something that seems ready to move in to, but you’ll undoubtedly find junk in the closets and undesirable surprises hiding behind the wallpaper. Sometimes hiring a developer to build your site from scratch–to your exacting specifications–is a better route. There is more involvement up front, but in the end you get what you really wanted, with no surprises.

Thankful and thoughtful

Finally, be thankful we have so many themes–from minimal to monumental–to choose from for our WordPress-based sites. I chose Ammon for this article because it is beautiful and versatile, yet carries all the negative baggage I’m warning you about. I’ve also licensed the theme and used it on a client’s site.

What a beautiful yet bitter pill.