Web design is a massive industry that has been alive since the first websites were published on the internet. The tools, techniques and technology stacks used might have changed, but the overall goal remains the same, i.e. to have an online presence and a space where visitors can find you or your business. As businesses realized the benefits of having a website, the demand for tools that are easy to use to build a website or manage it skyrocketed. This led to the birth of themes.
Themes: What Are They?
A theme is the look, style and feel of your website. It includes the colors you decide to use, the style elements, layout as well as functionality.
Why Use Themes
The main reason for using them is their ease of use. Take WordPress themes, for example. All you need to do to use one is to install it on your WordPress website and activate it. Once this is done, you will have a website that looks professionally made and that has the exact functionality you need. But themes come with a few issues that have turned people off from using them.
One of these is complexity. In the past, all you had to do was activate a theme and you had a new website design. Now, you have to install a theme, related plugins, and then make some changes if you do not want your website to look like another website using the same theme.
Although granular control is fantastic if you have the time to ensure you look at and customize every option, website owners, particularly small business owners, do not have the time to tinker with these options.
Second is bloated code. When theme marketplaces emerged, things were much simpler. Professional web designers and developers collaborated to come up with the best and most performant themes.
As the profits created by these marketplaces soared, a lot more developers got into theme development and not every developer had the skills or the time to ensure their code was well written. Yes, many marketplaces have checks in place to ensure this does not happen, but some of them do not have any such checks.
The Rise of Website Builders
People who wanted websites and did not want to deal with the complexities of having one set up turned to website builders. Many of these builders use a drag-and-drop interface to help even people who do not have coding or web design experience create beautiful websites.
The ease of using these platforms pulled a lot of people who could not afford expensive website design and development away from using platforms that used themes.
Evolution of Website Builders
The one area where themes kept beating website builders was SEO and marketing. Many website builders did not give you many options to add SEO content to your website. So, you had a website that could not be found on any search engine. Website builders have come a long way and they have caught up and themes no longer have this advantage.
In addition, website builders have become much better at helping users build complex responsive layouts for any device or screen size. This granular control is what makes tools like Editor X attractive to a lot of people.
The Editor X web design tool lets you build amazing-looking websites with flexible grids while giving you full control of your breakpoints. All their elements are responsive and if you want a custom look or functionality you can even add your own code. Editor X also comes with marketing and SEO solutions that can be integrated directly into your website.
Are Themes Dead?
The answer depends on who you ask but if themes are not dead, they soon will be. Themes are not yet dead because so many websites use them and getting a new website developed using a custom solution or a website builder is not on the agenda of most website owners.
As people realize the advantages website builders have over themes, a lot of people will likely stop using themes. It is also possible that the number of themes in use will fall as new websites are built using website builders and fully customizable solutions. People are also starting to understand that themes do not give them the unique website designs they may be looking for, can be clunky, and need constant maintenance to keep working.
WordPress Is Already Telling Us This
Over the past few years, WordPress has put a lot of emphasis on its Rest API. This is an API that lets you use a WordPress installation with any front-end solution. This front end can be built on anything including frameworks such as Reach and Vue JS, as long as these frameworks can fetch data from a WordPress database using the Rest API. The emphasis is no longer on using WordPress as a full-featured website solution, but rather as the content management system it has always been.
The future of web design is leaning more and more towards website builders and custom web design solutions. Themes served well for a while but over the past few years, they have become too complex for most people, too bloated so they slow websites down, and too similar to each other so users have a hard time telling websites apart. Themes are not yet dead, but it looks like they soon will be.