You've decided on WordPress. You are flipping through the hundreds of templates to choose the one that seems to give you the layout you want. You've narrowed it down to three or five. Before you make your final decision and decide to purchase, make sure of a few things that could cost you money, time and frustration if you rush into the decision:
1. Are all of the elements you see on the home page of the LIVE DEMO easy to edit or will you have to go through a lot of steps and edit HTML code?
The only way to know this is to contact the template author directly and ask those questions. "The image slider on the home page of BLAHBLAH template, is that easy to edit through the PORTFOLIO or SERVICES modules in the template admin?" Recently, I paid a company, TemplateTuning to customize their OWN template. I told them it was going into a WordPress site, yet their slider on home page was hard-coded in HTML, the featured stories were also hard coded in HTML making any dynamic features impossible for my end client. They wanted to charge me another $240 to make it dynamic using the Portfolio option and bringing in current news posts. Communication was terrible, questions were never answered directly.
2. How does the template company communicate? Can they understand your questions and concerns?
I'm all for international-one-world thinking, but if my needs are not understood and my questions are not answered, I can't embrace this path. Recently, I was made to feel that my questions were run through a translator program, then most key elements were deleted and then they answered, ran it back through a translator program and sent me a reply. The system must be old because it could sometimes take days for them to respond.
3. Who is installing the template? You need to know that up front.
Sometimes, companies include an easy to install package for WordPress that dumps in placeholder content and all widgets with a few clicks. Others, give you a naked template that you have to figure out where to add all of the elements to have them show up, no hints for short codes, no way to easily populate your new template since their support materials are lacking in the basics, "In this area, you can add items through the XX module…" types of explanations. Sometimes it pays to spend the extra $$ to have the template company install.
4. What about support and customization requests?
I highly recommend you don't have the template company work on customizations. It's usually expensive, slow and if they didn't design it logically in the first place, it usually won't go well to have them "fix" the less-than-desirable programming. Find an independent WordPress specialist who is adept at short codes and streamlining updates.
These are all questions you can get answered by contacting the template developer directly before you purchase. How is their communication style? Are they understanding your request? Are they replying in a timely manner? Take the extra day or two before you buy to check them out. It's worth it and may save you a lot of time, money and frustration.
Template source I recommend:
Themeforest – Samuli Saarinen is a favorite designer – communicates beautifully and creates a wonderful template. Themeforest has a lot of wonderful designs.
Template source I don't recommend:
TemplateTuning.com – you can get hooked on their beautiful templates, but they can be a PAIN to edit and populate. Their communication leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you have more than one project going with them at a time. Their phone number is just a placebo. The mailbox is always full and there is no way to speak to a human. Coolhomepages.com and TemplateMonster.com include a lot of TemplateTuning templates. Make sure, ask the questions before you buy or even show samples to your clients. You know they'll pick the ones from the ONE company you DON'T want to use. Only show them template samples from companies you'd want to work with.