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Decision To Build A Custom WordPress Theme

When you first start a wordpress blog you need to choose a theme for your blog as the default theme doesn’t look very professional and will possibly make people not take your blog seriously.

WordPress Theme Choices

When it comes to the choice of themes the wordpress framework has 100s/1000s of themes available on the web. When I was choosing a theme to use on my blog I had 3 choices of themes:

  • Free themes
  • Paid premium themes
  • Custom Built themes

Free WordPress Themes

There are 100s of websites that have a selection of FREE wordpress themes, the wordpress.org website has a directory of some of the best free themes.

These themes are fine for the casual blogger but there is a problem with these themes. Many of the themes styling does not look professional and is not a good image for a serious website.

Many of these free themes are just made to get links back to the creator website. This is done by the creator hoping that the person using these themes doesn’t have a in depth knowledge of the wordpress framework so they won’t be able to change the theme appearance.

They will normally put a link in the footer of the theme which will link straight to there website, therefore if they get 1000s of people downloading the theme they will be able to easily get 1000s of links back their website.

Some of these themes will actually encode the footer of the theme so that the user can not edit the footer. They will also put in some PHP code which will force the theme to have this encoded footer. So if you change the footer they will automatically redirect your website to unusable page.

This is why I try to avoid using free wordpress themes, but if you don’t have the knowledge of the wordpress framework and don’t have a large budget how do you get around this problem?

Use Premium WordPress Themes

Now as the name states these themes are premium so yes you will have to pay for the theme. But now you can get a fully customised theme for about $20, it will come with a mass amount of features, some including slide shows, portfolios, contact forms, social integration.

For $20 you can get all these features, plus a good looking style website, plus none of the links in the footer point back to the creator website and for $20 this is cheap for the user who is serious about having a professional looking website.

The benefit to these themes is they will have better integrated SEO in your theme which could drive more traffic to your wordpress theme.

With all these benefits there shouldn’t be a reason not to use a premium theme. I tried a premium theme but found it wasn’t for me. I am a web developer so I have the knowledge to build my own theme I just thought it would be easier to get a premium theme which looked like the style I wanted and change it around a bit to suit my site. I will be able to have an awesome looking theme with many features in a quicker time than building it myself.

But the problem with this is that having a theme someone else has built made my blog lose it’s identity and made it harder to customise so for now I am going to go back to my 1st option, build my own theme and just put it out and build onto it slowly until I have a theme which I like.

Custom Built Themes

The best thing about a custom theme is that you build it yourself, so that it will match your coding standards and your coding quality.

One of the biggest problems I found about the premium theme is that it didn’t have the coding quality which I would expect from a premium theme. For example I am keen on using the new CSS3 features to reduce the need for images and the premium themes looked good but it used some large images which can be handled just by using CSS, therefore increasing the page size which affects your page ranking.

The disadvantage of having a custom theme is the balance between the time it takes to get the theme starting vs the amount of features the theme will have. I want to be able to get the basic functionality of the theme out so I can have my blog in a basic state and then I will add the features in one by one.

But you can use blank themes as a template to your WordPress theme.

Starting My Own Theme

So I have taken the decision to build my own theme for this blog, the best thing is that it will give me all the customisation that I need, with the high quality coding techniques which I need. But the problem is the amount of features the blog will have to start with but I believe this is a good price to pay to have a website the way that I want it.

In my future posts I will explain what I have done to build my theme which hopefully will teach you how to build your own theme so you will be able to have all the benefits of your own theme.

See what files you need in your own WordPress theme.

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