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Are WordPress Themes Cheating in Web Design?

James Dalman | April 14, 2010 | 19 Comments

I am a designer with an old school mindset.  There are methodologies or rules in the design world that “just are” – some have valid reasons and others are personal preference, but regardless they are concrete pillars that shouldn’t be moved.  Then there is the “new school of thought” which has caused riffs with the purists and old-timers like myself.  Many of these battles have to do with the advancement in technology and the tools at our disposal.  The digital age has changed some of the methodologies on how we used do things, which is both good and bad.  This blog post stems from the Smashing Magazine blog post called The Dying Art of Design and which led me to Confessions of a Template Whore by Sabrina Dent.

This is going to hurt but I’ll say it  … I agree that designers are getting lazy.  I feel that in many ways we have neglected the true creativity that is hidden within us and settled for mediocrity in order to pump out our work.  Things have changed and it reminds me of the first MTV music video I ever saw, Video Killed the Radio Star, at the age of eleven.  Digital killed the the artistic star.  Terrible, I know!  However, on the other hand the advances of technology have been extremely beneficial for graphic and web designers.  Who remembers burnishing Letraset for ads or coding on the Tandy TRS-80?  Some things in the past were just a pain in the butt to do and now we can be more creative in certain areas, more quickly.

How does this relate to WordPress themes for web design?

Simple.  There are those discussions where the purists thumb their noses at the kids who “cheat” and use a template, theme, or stock art.  But is it really cheating?  Can we blame some designers for finding ways to be more productive and for making more money by not creating everything from scratch?  Here are some considerations:

  • It takes a lot of energy and time to create something from nothing
  • The world has devalued true artists and the worth of creativity to who can do it for less
  • The economy really sucks and those ‘cheap bastards’ have gotten cheaper
  • Many people wait to the last minute and then need it yesterday
  • Business is about being profitable not winning design awards
  • Solopreneurs or small shops are limited by time
  • There really isn’t too much new or original under the sun

If you just consider these true and valid thoughts, then it absolutely makes sense to streamline the creative process or development.  Time IS money. You either can sell your custom artwork or creativity for a very high and lucrative price because you do less projects and time is limited, or you can sell efficiency and good enough work for less and bang out more projects.  As long as the client who is paying your fee is happy, why does it really matter?

Please know that I value custom artwork and the lost arts and crafts we once knew.  I also value the ability to make quick money and getting on to the projects that I really love that might not pay.  My belief is that using WordPress themes or stock artwork is definitely not cheating or wrong – it’s smart business!

How do you feel about it?

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