I was recently talking to a friend who wants to create a site for his small business. He’s a landscaper, and needs a simple site — perhaps a few pages to describe his services, a contact form, and a blog. As someone who is fairly knowledgeable about WordPress web hosting, it’s difficult for me to put myself in the position of someone who doesn’t know anything about it, and so it came as something of a surprise that he believed he would need to pay a designer to create a custom WordPress theme for his site. His business is new, and it would be significant burden on his expenses to hire a designer. He didn’t know that buying a pre-made theme was an option and was somewhat incredulous about the idea of using one, worrying that his site would end up looking like millions of others.
First, I’d like to clear up exactly what a theme is. In a nutshell a theme is a set of files that can be installed on a WordPress site to change the way it looks, and in some cases, the way it functions. WordPress is a very flexible system and can be styled in many different ways — you probably have no idea that many of the sites you visit are based on WordPress at all.
The sets of files that constitute a theme are created by developers or designers; some are given away free, some you have to pay for (premium themes), and some are created for a particular site — a custom WordPress theme. The vast majority of WordPress sites use either free or premium themes.