What ! Are you are using a theme ?

By Infraweb | January 3, 2018

During the early stages of designing a website if anyone had posed the question "should we use a theme ?" to myself or the team over the past few years then I can safely say without hesitation that it would have been a compelling no based on our previous experience with themes and web design.

Our main reasons for avoiding themes...

  • We had to take time to learn and understand the theme
  • We had to work harder to customise the codebase
  • We had to monitor and install any updates from the author
  • Some originalinality and creativity was lost
  • Themes had to be modified to our clients specific needs
  • Themes could be bloated with features that we didn't need/use

So have we changed our mind ?

In short yes ! Whilst we would not suggest that themes are a must for every new project as a team we think there is merit in at least researching and working with a client to determine if there is an "off the shelf" solution that could meet their needs with minimum customisation.

Why ?

I guess it's back to the old adage of don't reinvent the wheel ! If there is a theme that meets the requirements and can be implemented with virtually no customisation then we would certainly recommend this approach, especially if time to market is a key driver. One of our core values is providing value for money and in terms of development time, purchasing and implementing a theme could reduce costs, we just make sure our customers are aware of our main concerns around originality, code bloat and keeping themes updated.

Testing the waters

We have always been keen advocates of the bootstrap framework and recently discoverd Boostrapious which offers a variery of free and paid for themes. We all took a shine to the universal theme on offer and decided we would re-work our Infraweb website to make use of the theme. We already had the brand and the majority of the content ready to port across so we set about ourselves a deadline of four weeks for full delivery, which with a few other key developments ongoing was optomistic considering we were also integrating our new CMS. However we delivered with a day to spare, it was not all plain sailing but once we had committed and the direction was set the team did an excellent job !

Finally...

So are themes our new best friend ? Well that very much depends on the use case and of course if we don't find a theme that ticks all the boxes then we will build a custom theme that meets the needs of your customers using a blend of tradtional web design skills, creativity, innovation and probably some useful frameworks to help speed up delivery of your website or web application.

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