Beware of Paid Themes Being Sold As Custom Websites

We have noticed a new trend circulating around Northern Colorado where small web companies are buying $50 “premium” themes from theme sellers like and selling them to their clients as custom designed websites for 100 times their real cost. Aside from the ethical issues associated with this, purchased themes carry a lot of risk and often don’t meet your needs as well as they should.

There are several problems with purchased themes that won’t exist in custom built theme and these problems could cost you thousands of dollars in the long run.

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To begin with, quality varies wildly theme by theme. Small, one-person theme developers who sell on generally inadvertently build in vulnerabilities unknowingly by trying to make the theme do “everything.”  This also makes modifying the theme very hard since most of the code that is generated is built into the theme editing tools and not in the theme file itself.

Additionally, these themes are rarely built using the best technologies such as sliders and image galleries. Instead, they commonly use lesser known tools to solve the problems. A recent example of this issue: more than 1,000 templates were sold on that were found to have a common vulnerability exposing every file in their site to hackers by the use of a slider plug-in called “Slider Revolution.” This is described in a blog post by our Senior Developer, Mike Selander. Exploits like these put your whole site in danger and the patches in themes come slowly.

The best selling themes are also built for a mass-adoption, meaning that you’ll end up a with a theme that is carrying far too much code and overhead and has 100 features which you will never need. Due to all of the extra code, your site will load slower, be more difficult to customize and will generally be more confusing for you to use on a daily basis.

Finally, because purchased themes are so overbuilt, they are likely to break when updating your WordPress installation. More often than not, upgrading your version of WordPress (which should be done with almost every release, 3-4 times a year) will often cause issues in your purchased theme. These issues are inherent to the design and construction of the theme and they can be very costly to repair manually, otherwise you’ll need to repurchase an updated version of the theme from the developer.

We recommend verifying with your web developer that your website will be truly custom i.e. built from the ground up with code that they have written. Note: Old Town Media truly builds custom sites. We do offer a template option – however it is a template that we built ourselves, so these issues are irrelevant.