You’ve found a superb theme on Themeforest which far exceeds your own design capabilities. Your client won’t know that you didn’t design it and it will save days of design work creating your own so it’s got to be worth $40 or $50 right?… Stop. The drawback to buying a ready-made theme from Themeforest or a similar marketplace is that it won’t save you as much time as you hoped for. You or your client may realise later, that even with the new brand identity inserted, the theme is so popular that several other sites have purchased it for themselves and yours doesn’t stand apart enough.
It might need a lot of tweaking to fit the clients requirements. And while we’re talking about that, I find that every CSS designer is different and sets up its theme’s template files and style sheets accordingly; while it makes perfect sense to them, it can be confusing and time-consuming to work through for anybody else. So unless you plan on only ever purchasing themes from one author or studio, what started out as a time-saver, will find you digging deeper and deeper through the theme until it doesn’t feel like tweaking anymore. You will then realise that it would have been a lot quicker to start from scratch. There are also other things to look out for when browsing for a beautifully-made WordPress theme… Check the licence that comes with it. Just because you paid for it once doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have to pay for it again if you want to re-use it. WordPress is GPL but most premium themes worth having will have strings attached.
Make sure that the images and plugins you see it using in the demo are also included because a lot of the time they’re not and it can cost a lot more than the theme price to be able to copy that live demo you played with. That’s why I’m starting to ditch premium themes in favour of using a neat tool I’ve found which for me, is like finding the holy grail of WordPress design. When I first discovered it, I felt like John Travolta when he opened that briefcase in Pulp Fiction. It really has changed the way I work forever. Don’t get me wrong, some of the best-selling themes on Themeforest I could only dream about making myself but over the years (and I’ve been doing this for many) I’ve come to realise that whatever ready-made theme a client chooses, they will always want to make design changes to it and never use 75% of the features that it came with which immediately defeats the whole purpose of choosing a theme.
I guess I’ve very gradually come full-circle but it’s been a valuable learning curve that nobody could’ve taught me and although I’m arriving back at the same point I started from, I appear to be much higher up.