Should you get a custom theme designed for your WordPress site?

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Custom WordPress Theme Design

If you do a search on Google or Bing for “custom WordPress theme design” you will find over 15 million results. Some of the results are for web design firms, while others are for themes or freelancers. For example you could hire a freelance WordPress Designer through oDesk.com for $12 per hour or purchase a custom theme that will be ready for you in five days for $325. Are these good deals or a rip-off?

As with most anything, you get what you pay for.

This does not necessarily mean, however,  that the most expensive solution is the answer for you. Whether you hire a freelancer or work with a design firm, you will want to see examples of their work and read testimonials from customers. Search forums for mention of the designer to see if there have been any complaints. If possible, ask to see actual websites, not just screenshots so that you can see how quickly the site loads. Don’t let this be your only criteria if the site has lots of ads or external content that is loading along with the actual theme.

You need to be able to describe what you need from your designer so that you are satisfied with the end product. Here are some specific details that you will define for your designer.

Layout

Do you want a one column layout with no sidebars or a content area with narrower columns on the left or right or both for sidebars. Do you want them a fixed width or fluid depending upon the viewer’s screen resolution? Do you want it to work well on a mobile device without having a separate theme (sometimes called “responsive)? Do you want a header? How wide: full width of the browser or just as wide as the content? How about the footer? Or perhaps, you’d like a large area for an image or slideshow with three short columns below it. Where do you want your menu bar or navigation?

Colors and Fonts

There are literally thousands of fonts that have been developed but only about a dozen are viewable on every PC or mobile device. The same applies to colors. Although there are 16.7 million possible colors on a true-color monitor, not all of them will be displayed on every screen and they may not look the same. Most designers will use two or at most three fonts throughout your website. Frequently a serif font is used for body copy while a sans serif font is used for headings.

Try to pick five colors to use throughout your theme for your designer. You can use a tool like Adobe’s Kuler. You could also start out with an image that appeals to you and the designer could pull the color scheme from it.

DYI (Do It Yourself)

Another option, especially if you have several sites that you want to customize with custom themes, is to use Artisteer. Artisteer is an automated web designer that can be used to create custom WordPress themes as well as Joomla, Drupla, and Blogger themes. It can also be used to create complete websites and blogs, edit pages, write content, and publish online. It is fun and easy to use and requires no programming or HTML knowledge. There are two versions: one for home and academic users limited to WordPress and Blogger templates and a standard version that adds Joomla, Drupla, DotNetNuke, ASP.NET and CodeCharge Studio.

About the author 

Lisa McMahon

Lisa has been involved with the Internet since 1995. Lisa's first web sites were developed in 1996 (fintrend.com and intergalacticwebs.com). Besides designing websites, she has also done some programming, project management and the webmaster for a large corporation. Lisa loves to teach and has been privileged to teach hundreds of students across the US and even at a conference in the Dominican Republic. She has been interviewed by the Richmond Times Dispatch as well as several Southern Baptist State Convention publications. Lisa loves to travel and learn new technologies. She hopes to one day live overseas. Her hobbies include singing, reading, gardening, cooking/baking, and playing the flute.

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