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Although a carefully planned, custom designed and expertly built website design is always going to be the best long-term solution for businesses or organisations seeking a professional presence on the web, there has been a rapid increase in what are called Premium (or licensed) WordPress ‘Themes’ in the past 4-5 years.

Premium WordPress Themes are essentially ‘themes’ (or ‘templates’ in simpler terms) that can be purchased from a variety of sources for a one-off fee and then utilised to customise a website’s look, technical features, structure and content.

They differ from standard WordPress themes, which are offered for free to users who sign up for a wordpress.com blog or whom build a WordPress site from the ground up using the wordpress.org framework, partly because they come at a cost.

There are, however, a host of other benefits and advantages that they offer which I wanted to briefly run through below.

1.  Highly Customisable – Premium Themes have a much greater degree of flexibility than free themes and nearly every aspect of them can be heavily customised according to the clients specific branding, marketing and content needs.

2.  SEO-Enabled – Most Premium Themes have inbuilt features to allow website Authors to easily implement SEO-related content, without having to alter or modify the website’s source code. An ever-increasing range of effective plugins (such as the Yoast plugin, which we highly recommend) can also be added to any WordPress site to very effectively facilitate more advanced optimisation techniques.

3.  Documentation & Support – Premium Themes are always backed up by extensive user documentation, which is often continually updated, along with unlimited online support.

4.  Social Media Powered – With the introduction of a multitude of dynamic social media plugins such as AddThis and ShareThis, amongst others, Premium Themes can be easily modified to allow for seamless sharing of content on all mainstream social media channels.

5.  Cost & Time Effective – Building a businesses or organisations website using a Premium Theme is much more cost and time effective than building a bespoke site, especially if it’s a relatively simple website a client is seeking. Using a Premium Theme as the foundation is akin to embarking on a small-scale renovation and redecoration of a house as opposed to building from scratch. It can often be done a lot faster with comparable results.

6. Inbuilt Responsiveness – If a theme, or a website is deemed ‘responsive’, this simply means it has been cleverly designed from the ground up with the ability to dynamically change its appearance dependent upon the platform it is being viewed on (ie: it may appear one way when viewing on an iPad or iPhone and another on a normal PC monitor). Responsiveness is a fundamental aspect of good usability / accessibility practice across the digital landscape. A large proportion of available Premium Themes are now responsive (as a side note, we at Jen Clark Design only use responsive themes) which makes for an optimal user experience when viewing or interacting with a completed site.

You’ll see below that this website was built utilising the Studeo Theme created by Web Developer Orman Clark (no relation!) of Premium Pixels / Themezilla. After about a week of extensive customisation, we’ve ended up with a very effective, thoroughly optimised, clean and easy to use site that we get a lot of positive feedback about.

All of the above benefits aside, if a particular website requires more advanced functionality, such as a robust eCommerce facility or similar, it is generally always better to build a completely customised site from the ground up as opposed to purchasing and modifying a Premium WordPress Theme. Although it is a very good option for those seeking a simple, professional web presence quickly and cost-effectively, it is by no means a one size fits all solution.

Not sure if a Premium WordPress Theme is for you? Feel free to get in touch with us to discuss the options.

Other useful online resources on this topic we recommend:
Fast.Co Design – ‘Hey Dummy: This Is What “Responsive” Design Means’
SloDive: Why Use Premium WordPress Themes (& Why Not?)

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