We've all been there.
You stumble across a new CMS, and your eye immediately fixates on the “Themes” button on the platform's homepage.
Perhaps it's part of Human nature to want to see something visual before we digest any technical information, like the CMS' actual features and capabilities. I don't think there's anything unhealthy about that, in and of itself.
But what happens when you start falling in love with platforms simply because of their stunning library of themes?
Often, we come across themes that match up the exact design we imagine inside our head.
We couldn't describe what we wanted before, not even if we really wanted to. But now, we can see it right in front of us, with beautiful stock imagery and demo content to boot. It's tantalizing, and we simply have to have it.
Similarly, it's common for well designed themes to give you brand new business ideas right there on the spot, even if you're already knee deep in your current project. That's the power of good design.
But in both of those scenarios, one has to understand that, at this stage at least, it's lust – not love.
You may be besotted by a particular theme, but you really must weigh up the pros and cons of the CMS you're now so tempted to sign up for, especially if signing up involves a fee of any kind.
A platform may have some dazzlers in its library, but how well does it handle media? Will you have to rely on several third-party plugins? What's the user interface like? You catch my drift.
The last thing you want to do is jump on board for nothing but a pretty theme, only to realize that the CMS itself lacks the functionality needed for your project.
I've seen this happen with Squarespace, for example.
Squarespace is an excellent website builder with epic themes and a strong set of features; but it's not a platform I'd recommend for large projects, like a regularly updated news blog.
Yet, its awesome template selection continues to attract customers, despite other platforms being far better suited to the project in question. Kudos to Squarespace for their eye for design, but I can't help but try to warn those approaching Squarespace with a complex website idea, hoping that it can handle it. Because it probably can't.
The result? Wasted time, wasted money, and another unneccessary hurdle between you and your project's launch.
Rather, you're far better off choosing a CMS that's technically prepared for your vision, rather than just visually prepared. Today, developers easily found on popular freelance job boards, and they'll be more than happy to design something custom for you for a price. But they can't improve your chosen CMS.
So, by all means, indulge yourself in the theme libraries, but don't forget to check out the rest of the platform before taking the plunge.