Most of the time, using a ready-made template is a good choice and provide you with great value and time-saving functionality. However, there are times when I curse the day I downloaded the glossy, shiny, all-bells-and-whistles template and installed it on my Joomla site.
When I'm developing sites for my own use, using a template from RocketTheme, Yootheme or another company is a great choice. I have the 100% creative control of the project, and can decide if a functionality is needed or just "nice to have".
However, if I'm developing a site for a client, the case might be another. The client may have wishes that at first sight can look easy to implement, but when I start adding new functionality to the template I sometimes experience odd results.
Some of the read-made templates have an enormous amount of functionality. This is great most of the time, but can be a pain if you need to customize for instance column width etc. A change in CSS can give result which breaks the layout in Legacy browsers like IE6. I've experienced problems with column width in a few templates. Because the CSS was so complex, changes took a long time to apply and browser check. And your client might not be ready to pay for this additional work...
What to watch out for before using a template for client work
- Check out how the support for the template is handled by the company
- Be aware of the complexity of the CSS and other functionality
- Avoid using brand new templates for your client work - they are often updated several times with bug fixes
- Find out wha's easy to change in the template settings and CSS, and what calls for heavier customization
- Be clear with the client about what's included in the template and what needs customization
Pros of using a ready made template:
- Most of the time, everything works out just fine
- You can get great and rapid support if the people are serious and committed to their user
- You get a lot of styling and module variations included
- Many templates have advanced parameters, making it easy to change width, colors etc
Cons of using a ready made template:
- You have to pay for them (well, most of the time)
- Sometimes, your modifications break the whole template
- Changes might mean you will have to do extra browser checking and customization for legacy browsers (especially IE6)
- Support can be lousy if the programmers don't have the time
- The HTML and CSS can be so overly complex that it takes a long time just to find out how everything is built