Premium WordPress Templates are different from standard templates, and have a number of advantages. At TheDMA, we build lots of website using Premium Templates, and we also do a large amount of Custom Theme Development. We build each of these with the same core elements, providing all our clients with all the benefits of WordPress, and a strong foundation for their website now and into the future. In this post, we’ll explore some of these WordPress features, how they work in Premium Templates, and explore the issues that will help you decide between a Premium Template or a Custom Theme for your website.
Theme and template both refer to the same thing – this the is web interface that takes all the content and smarts from the WordPress “back-end” and then displays it to the Word Wide Web in the right formats, and in the right spot on your website. A “Template” is a type of theme – designed and sold to be re-used. The industry tends to refer to custom, bespoke designed themes as Custom Themes, and off the shelf themes as Templates. They both do the same job of displaying your content with the right styles, fonts, colours and formats.
A professional WordPress website should be built on a parent framework, with a child theme. We use either the Thesis Framework or the Genesis Framework for all our websites. The parent – child theme framework gives your theme more durability. When WordPress is up-graded, the parent can be up-graded and the changes won’t alter your child theme. Similarly for plugins, or up-grades to the actual theme (if you are using a template) – these upgrades won’t effect your theme if you have it structured as a child theme. You can also put a new child theme in place within minimum fuss, providing an easy upgrade path from a Premium Template to a Custom Theme.
The use of a Parent framework in Premium Templates also allows key content areas to be managed as “widgets”. These widgets are flexible content containers, where the header text and content can be easily changed. For example, latest blog posts, featured blog posts, featured pages, tweets, Facebook like boxes, calendars, can all be managed as widgets. These widgets can be moved around the footer and sidebars, and changed and updated quickly and easily. Often, themes built straight on WordPress without a parent framework, lack widgets and are therefore less customisable.
In addition to flexible widgets to manage content, Premium Templates also allow for a greater degree of customisation of colours, highlights and branding. Some of the newer Premium Templates include a range of colour options, and we can also change the style sheets (CSS) to alter the background colour, the menu colours and hover over colours, the link text format, and font. Combined with flexible page layouts and widgets, you have a wide range of options allowing you to create a site that works for your content, audience, and planned interactions.
With a Premium Template, the website is already built and tested against all the standard web browsers (IE, Safari, Chrome, Firefox etc). This ensures your site is stable and the design elements will be presented consistently across the wide range of computers your visitors may use. Naturally, these major design elements can’t be changed or altered – as this “breaks” the cross browser testing. The location of menus, hight of headers and footers, the layout of containers on the home page for featured content, latest blog posts, main content and sidebars – all of this is fixed within the programming of the Template and cannot be easily or cost effectively changed. By choosing the template, you are choosing this structure (with the ability to alter content and colours etc).
Here are two working examples where we’ve done a small amount of customisation to produce a great result for our clients. Click each image for a larger view.
Templates are a great way to get a site up fairly quickly and inexpensively, as the heavy lifting in design and construction has been done. You can just move in and decorate! So why do a custom site ? A custom site is the best choice if: