After searching what seemed like forever, I finally found a theme to purchase for SuperAff from a nice young fellow all the way over in South Africa, Cobus. I searched, and I searched, and I searched. During my theme hunt, I discovered a few things to look for when buying WordPress themes:
- Window Shopping: I found browsing through portfolios for ready-made designs to be the best bet rather than trying to explain to a designer exactly what you want. If no prices are listed, just ask–you might hit the jackpot and be pleasantly surprised (like me). Unless you have a designer on hand that knows your style and what you expect, there’s a high risk that it just won’t work out. You explain to the designer what you want, she understands, and whips up something completely different than what you had in your mind. She’s incorporated the things that you’ve requested, but not at all in the way you envisioned. It’s like clipping a picture from a magazine and taking it to your hairdresser to style your hair in the exact same way. You walk out with a hairdo that’s not at all what you thought it would be (ladies, you know what I’m talking about here!). That’s because how I see/perceive something can be different than how you see it. I see shiny highlites and bouncy curls, my hairdresser sees orange undertones and perm. I’ve lost a few bucks because I didn’t like what the designer came up with.
- Watch The Graphics: Make sure the theme’s category and sidebar titles are text and not graphics. It’s *real fun* trying to customize and make new titles/headers match the font and shade exactly when you are trying to add something other than the usual suspects to your sidebar (like “categories”, “archives”, “meta”). If you have the graphic skills and are able to edit them easily, it still sucks having to create a new graphic file every time you want to add a section to your sidebar.
- Be Clear On Specs: If you want the sidebars to be a certain width (to hold a certain size banner for example), or if you want the content to be read in the code first before the sidebars, make sure to mention that to your designer. If your specs aren’t already in place, they can easily do so before handing the new theme over.
- Original Design: If you want a theme designed from scratch that you totally own and no one else can get their hands on, expect to pay between $700 and $1100 dollars. It aint cheap. But in return you better get some serious input and editing control in place, otherwise chances are high you’ll be stuck with a very expensive theme you are dissatisfied with or even hate (see point #1).
- Theme Accessories: Ask the designer to whip up an avatar and a favicon to match the theme. Be specific though, same rules apply as with choosing a theme. My words to Cobus were: “Basically just the two letters from my blog title (maybe staggered) with a nice border” and this is what he came up with–I love it. I lucked out though, this could have gone very, very wrong if I was wanting something particular in design.
- Widgets: Is the theme widget ready? Do you want widgets? Although WordPress is widget friendly, I use them *sparingly* on other blogs. This theme was widget ready and I could have had Cobus “un-widgetize” it, but I decided to go for it. Now I think I hate widgets :P. But it’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re in the market for a new theme, do you want widgets or not?
- Header graphics: Ask the designer if they’re willing to customize the header graphic. SuperAff in the above header doesn’t look that complicated and I probably could have pulled it off myself, but Cobus did a beautiful job on the theme–would I really want to go in and slaughter the design by topping it with a header hacked together with my crappy graphic skillz?
- Customize It: Once the new theme is delivered, upload it, add all your favorite plugins and then comb through the code. Designers are artists, net marketers are hacks. But with our fresh pair of eyes sometimes we can spot things that could be streamlined or tightened up in the code. Feel free to hack away at your new theme, just make sure to keep an untouched master copy on hand in case you screw something up and can’t fix it. This new theme on SuperAff has been modified a bit, and Cobus was ok with that ;).
Please Note: If any “report bots” are reading this and are tempted to skedaddle off to report this post, I have not received a reduced price, a free theme, a cup of coffee or anything in return for mentioning Cobus and his mad design skillz. I’m simply a happy customer that recommends him and am pleased with this purchase. That’s still allowed to discuss. Sad state of affairs that I even have to add this blurb.