Tailor-made usually, but not always, better

We’re talking websites now. The new theme here started me thinking about this.

This theme was created by StudioPress and was very affordable. Took me 15 minutes to download and install. My only contribution to the design was picking a color scheme I liked.

When I started blogging 10 years ago, I spent HOURS futzing with the design of the blog. Graphics, colors, fonts… anythign that could be changed, I changed.

And with each tweak, the site looked a little less professional. I thought I was making it “better,” but looking back, no way.

I have a theory that –in most instances– an off-the-shelf design, like the ones I get from StudioPress (and there are lots of good places to buy themes) is going to look better than a site designed from the ground up.

This is based on two assumptions:

1. The client will be very involved in the design of the custom theme

2. NO change is made to the stock theme.

When paying a lot of bucks for a custom design, the typical clinet will insist on a lot of input. The designer will try to stay close to her original vision, but it’s difficult. And once the client gets his hands on the site, he will –if humanly possible– fuck it up. We can’t help it. We have to tinker.

Let us consider now the design of the stock theme. There IS no client yet. The designer has the time and freedom to create a perfect theme, if there is such a thing. Every element carefully chosen to work with every other element.

Yes, a good developer can take one of these themes and customize them in such a way as not to destroy the original, but the client will make that very hard (see above)

Am I concered that hundreds or thousands of websites are using this exact theme? Nope. Only a fraction of said sites would ever have enough traffic to make it likely someone would notice. And if they do, well, it’s like to gorgeous models wearing the same gown to the ball. They both look great.

It’s taken me a while to get to this place. To be willing to accept that I can only make the original worse… not better.

If you want to comment on my little theory, join me over at Google+. I’ll cross post there.