WordPress Templates: Reasons to Opt-Out

With a market share of over 64% , WordPress is the most used (CMS) worldwide . The reasons for this are obvious, as on the one hand it is very easy to install and operate, and on the other hand it has enormous versatility. Precisely because WordPress is so widespread, many users very often resort to so-called purchased templates or WordPress themes . At first glance, themes look good - but what happens if they have to be expanded with some individual requirements, or if a major update is imminent? In this article, we want to draw your attention to the problems with purchased WordPress templates/themes and why you should plan a professional WordPress website properly.

  • WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it
  • WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it
  • WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it
  • WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it
  • WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it
WordPress Templates - Right or wrong
© Thomas Reimer / #232236269 – stock.adobe.com

What actually is a WordPress theme or template?

A WordPress theme or template changes the design of your WordPress-powered website. These design changes include visual and appearance adjustments, and most often some functional aspects as well. There are templates for every CMS, including WordPress.

The best way to think of a template is like a model house: There is a clear template for the structure and design, but you can enhance the model house with furniture, colors and small modifications. Nevertheless, one is dependent on the substance, namely the model house itself. For example, necessary basic renovations or conversions can often only be carried out with a disproportionate amount of effort or mostly not at all, since you have to move within the framework of the model house. The same is true of WordPress themes .

They represent a template or an archive for a website and can be filled with content. Colored designs as well as image changes, as well as graphic and functional add-ons (e.g. slide shows, etc.) are often integrated. Such a template is usually installed with just a few clicks. Now it quickly becomes clear how similar model houses and templates actually are, both are templates for a solution within the framework of a concept , which only allow small or often no adjustments in their basic structure.

WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it
© kalpis / #175517243 – stock.adobe.com

Differences between purchased and free WordPress themes

The WordPress theme market is gigantic, there are both free and paid templates. Free templates are often kept rudimentary and it is not uncommon for add-ons and plugins to be retrofitted in order for them to serve their purpose. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the themes supplied with the WordPress installation are best suited from the aspect of update-friendliness

With the templates/themes that are subject to a fee , it looks different again. There is an enormous portfolio of themes on the market. Very well-known are, for example, the D IVI theme or themes from Template Monster and the Envarto Market . Purchased templates usually come with a large number of plugins pre-installed and a large number of scripts running in the background . Not infrequently, however, in order to be able to use a purchased theme to its full extent, you not only have to buy a license, but also purchase all licenses for plugins so that it offers all its promised functions. In short, paid themes tend to have more plugins and therefore more features.

The pitfalls of purchased WordPress themes

Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons in the professional field that speak against the use of purchased or free themes . We want to show you these briefly:

  • Performance problems
    • Overloaded theme source code with PHP, JavaScript, CSS and HTML to make the theme fair styling options and features. This code bloat often leads to performance issues such as page loading issues, content memory issues, content rendering errors, and many more.
  • Privacy issues
    • Especially with themes that were developed outside the European market, there is often no value attached to GDPR-compliant programming (contrary to full-bodied buzzwords in the description texts of the themes). In other words, plugins may not be licensed, the image material supplied is not licensed, a corresponding consent manager is not available or is not GDPR-compliant, the data protection page and the imprint are not GDPR-compliant and much more.
  • Support and update issues
    • The issues of support and updates are one of the most serious when it comes to purchased WordPress themes. The support can usually only be contacted via e-mail and often does not help with problems, or requires fundamental basic knowledge of CSS and HTML from the user of the theme. When it comes to updates, it often happens that an established theme can no longer be updated because the developers did not pursue the further development of the template or its core (core), which means that security updates, which WordPress regularly takes place, are no longer possible or .a PHP version change can already mean an end to the operability of the site. 
  • SEO problems
    • Especially in online marketing, the use of themes is not optimal. The problem of the previously mentioned performance problems with too much code often destroys well-planned on-page optimization or makes it very difficult. For example, headings are set multiple times based on various modules, which then overlap from the hierarchy (e.g. H1 headings on a page, etc.). It is also often not possible to use other libraries, since these in turn conflict with other code snippets. 
  • Security issues
    • As already mentioned with the performance and data protection problem, the susceptibility to errors increases in the case of excessively bloated and redundant scripts and thus they offer an optimal gateway for malicious code. Likewise, an uncontrolled number of scripts running at the same time can lead to the display of data that a potential attacker can use as a basis for research.
  • Customization issues
    • We have been asked countless times how an existing, purchased template can be modified, and time and again we have to point out to our clients that a modification involves a great deal of effort. The core problem can be explained quite simply: a template is quickly installed for a fast website, but then the customization requests come up, which then cannot be implemented. Unfortunately, the flexibility in a purchased template is not given, especially if you want to adapt it to innovations or needs.
  • General planning problem
    • “Preparation is half the battle” applies to a template as well. WordPress templates are often bought and installed without intensive advance planning. Problems can already occur during installation, and especially when you realize that the template doesn't really match your own wishes and views at all. Therefore, we generally advise against it and recommend professional and, above all, holistic advance planning.
WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it
© Focused / #300109300 – stock.adobe.com

When a purchased theme makes sense

Of course, we don't want to demonize purchased templates at all. Purchased WordPress themes make sense, especially for non-commercial blogs, or for users with their own technical know-how and a lot of patience and time. In the non-commercial area, a purchased template has its advantages and makes sense in our opinion. Even for users with little financial means who want to learn more about WordPress, it is often advantageous to deal with purchased templates.

For companies that want to be legally secure , want to expand their own web presence in the future and use it as a marketing tool , rely on a secure and cleanly programmed website , a purchased WordPress template makes no sense.

However, buyable templates have a very positive aspect: they can be inspiring to get a feeling for how a design, a CI (corporate identity), functions and haptics should flow into a possible future page.

Own template instead of purchased WordPress template - More quality and durability
© Olivier Le Moal / #220772773 – stock.adobe.com

Please don't let any wild variables walk around and throw stones here

Wow Holland (1951-2001)

Conclusion

Of course, at first it seems as if we are completely opposed to purchased templates - this is also the case when it comes to commercial customers. Unfortunately , the limitations, the performance and update problems, the SEO problems , etc. leave us no other option than to make such a judgment.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that templates purchased for private individuals, design research, hobby and professional developers may make sense if they are aware of what they are getting themselves into and explicitly do not need help or no quick help.

The follow-up costs of a template are often underestimated, if you want to rebuild it, you can later get to the point where an individually programmed template is cheaper than a purchased template
Above all, one thing applies to self-programmed templates: They are really completely individual and not off the peg.

WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it

I am looking forward to you

Christian Eichinger
Office Manager
WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it WordPress Templates - Why it's better to keep your hands off it