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Have you ever used a theme or a template on one of your freelance web design projects?
And I’m (in my humble opinion) a good designer and coder.
But recently, Millo got a huge makeover. We were hacked pretty hard at the end of last year and so early this year, we rolled out a brand new look, hired a new writer (April Greer), and made a resolve to publish some epic and super-helpful content this year.
But in my blog post announcing all the changes that we’d be going through in 2012, I got an interesting comment that I didn’t expect. One reader named Andy asked:
“How come you bought a ready-made WordPress theme if you’re a designer?”
You can read my quick response to Andy’s question here, but today I wanted to first pose a question:
Is it okay to use templates and themes as a freelance designer?
I’m sure we all have a different opinion on this topic, so I’d like to hear your opinion on the whole issue. Before I continue, leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think.
If you’re a freelance designer, do you use templates and themes, or do you always build from scratch no matter what?
Why I chose to use a theme this time
For a long time, I have been a pretty strong advocate of the “if you’re a designer, design it yourself” mentality. But recently, when my site was hacked, I learned that sometimes other priorities take precedence.
For example, Millo had been down for almost a month, so:
- I was anxious to get Millo back online (both for my audience – you guys – and for my revenue stream). Designing my own custom theme would have taken me another month or so.
- I needed an updated look. So I searched around at MojoThemes.com (which I highly recommend, by the way) and found one that I really liked.
- I wanted the cleanest, least hackable code I could find. I didn’t want to be hacked again, so I needed something that I knew would be as secure as possible.
So at that point, I decided it was a good decision to use a pre-designed WordPress theme.
Your design business HAS to be profitable
Another reason I went with a premade theme is that my design business HAS to stay profitable. And so does yours.
I had a choice to make: take time to design a theme for Millo, or spend time working on pending client projects.
While Millo helps bring in a little passive income each month, the bulk of my freelance income comes from clients-which I imagine is the same for you.
Using a template on certain projects can save you time and money, making your design business more profitable.
Not only does this pertain to web projects, but graphic design, too. Sites like Canva can help you create quick, easy, and customizable social media graphics to help you save time (and money).
The flip side
The other side of the coin, of course, includes a few very understandable arguments. Designers shouldn’t use themes because:
- They are harder to customize.
- They are less original.
- They are less tailored to your client’s specific needs.
- They can be hard to understand quickly.
- They make you look like a less-capable designer to some people.
I get it.
I understand why some designers like using templates and others hate it.
So I compromised.
I decided (before buying my theme) what kind of look I wanted for my site.
Then I went searching for it. I found something REALLY close and then I made a few minor adjustments (that I will keep changing over the life of the theme) to meet my needs.
Over to you
So what do you think? Is it okay to use templates and themes as a freelance designer? Why or why not? Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you think about the whole thing.
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