Note: This post may be something only developers will relate to. Any WordPress users might find these thoughts kind of strange.
I always cringe, sometimes inwardly and sometimes outwardly, at the idea of using someone else’s WordPress theme instead of my own. Let me try and explain.
The theme I’ve used more than anything in the past on my WordPress projects is Sandbox, from Andy Skelton and Scott Wallick. I suppose at this point it would be considered a Theme FrameworkTM, something comparable to Thematic or Theme Hybrid. I was a big fan of things like the body class function and the beautiful XHTML markup that stood at its core. At the time I was using Sandbox I wasn’t yet working with child themes to any extent, so I was pretty much digging into the theme each time.
Anymore I build any themes I use or my clients use completely from scratch. At times I will borrow from other GPL licensed functions here and there, usually for code I need not rewrite myself. So for sites like Theme Playground, my personal blog, and all of my client projects, I start from scratch — or, I should say, my own square one.
But some WordPress projects come up here and there that don’t really lend to me taking the time I would need to create something original. When I help a friend of mine put up a blog, or need to build a site for a smaller project, it usually turns toward using someone else’s themes.
Take the case of a project I’m working on with a friend of mine, Nick. We are doing a podcast about medical technology called Technically Medical, and needed a blog to be set up at techmedpodcast.com. Go ahead and check it out, it’s on a slightly modified version of the popular WooThemes’ theme called BlogTheme.
This really isn’t about other theme developers, at all. I totally respect the work of other WordPress theme developers and admire much of their work. That said, I sort of twitch every time I “give in” so to speak and use another’s theme.
I realize this is because I am a developer myself, and by nature I must be pretty full of myself, and my code. There are little things that get under my skin (like site titles not being
h1s, I’m one of those) but in general I don’t feel like I have a handle on the underlying code of the theme if it’s something that I haven’t built myself.
Am I alone in this, or are there any other developers that feel this way? Again, nothing against these other developers at all, I just get queasy when I have to use their themes.