Why I Finally Paid For a Template – And Why I Won’t Do it Again

I’m a big proponent of free. I like things that are free and I work hard with MaxButtons, a free plugin in the WordPress Repository. I’ve had a lot of discussions with folks on why I do things custom or why I don’t take advantage of great deals either on ThemeForest or other premium template websites. Same goes for graphic design elements, icons, GUIs, etc.

A painful example of free. From http://nos.twnsnd.co/

A painful example of free. From http://nos.twnsnd.co/

At the end of the day, I never saw enough value to shell out the $20 to save me a small amount of time. In fact, my logic was, “it’s code I’m unfamiliar with, so it’ll take me just as long to figure it out as it would to write it custom.” Not to mention the overhead or code bloat on some of the templates out there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of bloat from time to time, but if I’m paying for something, shouldn’t it already be clean and concise?

In the past year or two I’ve put together several wedding websites for friends just as a quick gift to them to help get their information up and on the web. It’s easy enough to do and when it looks great it’s awesome for them. As I’ve gotten busier and been asked to do small one-page informational sites like that, it gets tasking to come up with brand-new ideas, so I started borrowing from other sites. Not a big deal, but then client sites take over and I start to not have time to do even that.

So a while back I finally broke down and bought a pack of parallax templates on Mighty Deals. Awesome, I thought. Just copy/paste content and ready to go. Nope nope nope. My dev brain took over. The parallax is buggy, it’s a bit clunky with my content, it’s not fully responsive. I ended up stripping out half of the page and replacing it with my own code.

The moral of the story is this: if you’re picky about your code, use someone’s idea, not their code. There are plenty of “free template” sites out there and there are even PSD files you can purchase if you find something you really like. Otherwise there are sites like Dribble, Forrst, Pinterest or a handful of other sites for inspiration. So have I purchased a template before? Now I can say yes. Am I happy that I did? Meh.

The hipster cow says: "mehhhhhhhh"

The hipster cow says: “mehhhhhhhh”

I’m a bit of a purist and that makes me a bad candidate for using other folks code (at least when it’s a language familiar to me). That statement is a bit curious though as I enjoy frameworks and theme starters. Flip flopping aside it comes down to personal preference and I prefer (for simple sites) to write my own code.

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John Hartley is a Director of Product Engineering at Beam Dental in Columbus, OH. With 5+ years of leadership experience he has worked in startups, agencies, and began his career as a freelance Front End Developer. Always looking to iterate, this blog is a place for him to share his knowledge as well as hone his craft, challenge assumptions, and build a strong base of leadership and management knowledge. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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