In the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to look at hundreds of WordPress themes for my clients. Generally the client has a smaller budget and a WordPress pre-designed theme is an affordable alternative to a more expensive custom design.
Wordpress themes come in two categories: free and premium. The free WordPress themes are decent, and this is a great option for startups and newbies who just want a web site up fast. The downside is that the selection is fairly limited.
Premium WordPress themes, however, are generally of much higher quality and have better customization features. And there are lots more of them. So if you want a custom web site design, but can’t afford the pricetag of a custom site design, a premium WordPress theme can at least make your web site look like it’s got a custom design. Most premium WordPress themes cost about $35, and there are a bunch of good web sites that offer them. You can see a list of web sites that offer premium WordPress themes on the E-Marketing Connection web site.
At least, that’s the intention.
Recently I’ve been noticing that the vast majority of WordPress themes, even the premium ones, are all starting to look alike. They all appear to offer some variation of the following sequence: header, navigation, image slider, feature boxes, content columns, and a big thick footer. That’s the home page. Beyond that you get a gallery or portfolio page, some basic content pages with two and three columns, a contact us page with a built-in form, an about us page, a blog page, and sometimes a separate products and services page.
It would seem that all the newest WordPress themes are targeted to design firms or other creative types. If these firms or individuals are so creative, why don’t they create their own custom web site designs? Because they don’t have the skills to code it, that’s why. They’re artists, not developers. I get that. My concern is that not all people who want a pre-designed WordPress theme are creative types. Forget the gallery, my accounting firm client doesn’t need it. They don’t need the slider or the portfolio. They need nice-looking, easy-to-read content pages and a way to put stock images on those content pages — that’s all.
This is simply yet another manifestation of the shiny new object syndrome. Image sliders are the cool thing, so everyone wants one. Even one of my clients who is a career development coach wants one, even though the site doesn’t need it. It might even be a distraction from the important content on the site. It’s just cool-looking, that’s why web site owners want it. So that’s what the theme designers are making now. What will the next fad be? Whatever it is, when it comes around, these slider-heavy web sites will be overused and boring, like the pop song that plays over and over on the radio until you can’t stand hearing it any more.
It could be just me, because I look at so many of these. It’s hard to say. You, the consumer, someone who’s not “in the business” may not notice this. If so, let me know, because I want to give my clients what they want, but I also want to give them what they need, whether they realize it or not. It’s hard to argue with cool.
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