Why you shouldn’t use a premium WordPress theme for your personal blog

I am running a blog (this one) for more than 11 years, and as a web company owner I have a lot of WordPress installations used for customers websites.

Talking about this blog, I think I changed the theme about six or seven times, installing themes like the old Torn 2.0 (now impossible to find) by SoloStream, Silhouette (now impossible to find) by Brian Gardner, blog.txt and the extremely popular X theme.

As a web company, we have a subscription with CSSIgniter and a dozen themes purchased on the popular ThemeForest market.

While for your customers using a premium theme is a good choice, mostly because you can show them a virtually infinite series of templates to choose from without actually have a showcase made on your own, when it comes to your personal blog, I highly recommend not to use any premium theme.

Here’s why:

1 – You use 10% of theme features. While it’s good to show your customers they can have an interactive 3d header with particles and parallax effects if they want to, you probably know you’ll never use it in your blog, so why uploading to your server something you won’t use? It’s just like when they try to sell you an owen which can cook pies and pizzas at the same time, but you never eat pizza and pie at the same time. Ok, I do, but it’s not the point.

2 – Premium themes LOOK nice (with their pre-made tailred contents). Take the most good-looking premium theme, rip the “meet the team” part (because you are an one man company), remove the animated progress bar and counters to show someone’s skills because you’re tired of seeing them, get rid of the 25 menus, add a bit more text here and a little less text there, and… suddenly your theme does not look that good, does it?

3 – You can’t edit the code inside premium themes. That’s right, you can’t move that featured image elsewhere, because once you’ll need to update the theme, the new files will overwrite your changes. To avoid this problem, now themes have children themes. Basically you create a sub theme of the main theme, so when you update the theme your sub theme is safe. Prepare to navigate though dozens of files all with the same name scattered through various folders.

4 – A diamond is forever. Your premium theme too. Funny thing is a diamond could at least make your girlfriend happy, a premium theme probably won’t. Premium themes have a curse called shortcodes. Basically you write something like this in your post: [glowingtext]hey I am glowing[/glowingtext] and your theme will make your text glow. Until you change the theme. Then you’ll realize each theme has its own shortcodes, so from now on your readers will only read [glowingtext]hey I am glowing[/glowingtext].

5 – One hundred options in the admin area. Seriously. I can’t cope anymore. I just want to change header font, plese let me edit the CSS rather than looking into Settings -> Theme Control -> Header -> Font -> Style and play with three preset values. There’s something even more evil: a drag and drop editor inside the editor, which will generate shortcodes like the ones I mentioned before, so once you change the theme you will screw up the entire site.

6 – A lot of plugins. Now premium themes promote themselves with “10 professional plugins included”, which means “you’ll end up updating your theme once a week, what a lot of stuff making your site slower”. And remember point 1: you won’t use them.

7 – You don’t edit the theme. You negotiate with it. Did you ever watch an action movie with a lot of people taken as hostages in a bank with bad guys yelling “we want an airplane, new passports, one billion dollars in a secret Panama bank or we’ll start killing everyone”, and the police says “we can give you a pizza if you free men, women and children”. Same thing happens with your theme. You won’t make it look the way you want. You are asking for the plane, it’s giving you a pizza.

8 – WordPress is fantastic, learn it. Download BlankSlate and play. You will have the full control of your contents while learning something new.

That’s why I am designing my theme with BlankSlate and BootStrap

  • Good points, as usual, Emanuele ?
    Have a great weekend! ?

    • Emanuele Feronato

      you too!

  • Hamdi Rizal

    I agree with this. I even remember the time you said you will use X theme for this blog. And, I was like: are you serious? is X really suitable for a blog? It definitely has tons of features but for blogging, I think it is bloated.

    • Emanuele Feronato

      it took me AGES to turn X into a blog, and I was never completely satisfied. Glad to see you’re an old time reader!!

  • completely agree, I will send this article to some of my clients (commercial templates lovers) :D Thanks!!

  • donkey

    Great article! Some extra love for these CSSIgniter guys though!

    • Emanuele Feronato

      yeah, all in all they design nice themes