.: 13 December 2015 :.

Should you build your own Portfolio Theme?

“What theme did you use?”

I have been asked this question a couple of times. And although I totally don’t mind answering it, it got me thinking.

The people that ask assume that I used a theme. They assume I either got one for free or paid for it. Honestly, I don’t blame them for that. However, in reality I spent more than 100 hours designing and coding my own theme. From scratch.

Recently I completely redesigned and coded my portfolio, but the average visitor won’t notice it.

Why would I spend more than 100 hours on something if I could get the same result with less than $50?

Is it my perfectionism that gives me no other option? Yes, I want to be able to control every pixel and every line of code. Unfortunately, I would never be happy with using a theme someone else designed.

However, this does not justify why you should do the same. My perfectionism does not explain why you shouldn’t just buy a premium theme.

Is my theme too generic? Maybe because it is the only design I can do? Am Itoo generic? Some of these questions popped into my head.

One of my coworkers complimented me on my portfolio the other day. He found my portfolio very well thought through. He liked how consistent it was. He said he could tell what kind of designer I am.

It made me happy. He is also an interaction designer. I actually look up to him. He noticed I made every link on my portfolio blue. How I used just one font. How I tried hard to use five text sizes maximum. I realized that he read my design like a book.

My theme says more about me than I knew. It carries my personality.

I realized that it is okay that most people think I bought a theme. The people that really care do see my effort. Those are the people I look up to. The people I want to work with. The people who value design as much as me.

I shared a personal story, but what should you do? Should you build your own theme or just buy one?

I would love to advice you to build your own. The more diverse the web, the better. However, building your own theme is not easy. You should only consider it if you can achieve a similar design quality as the free themes. If you can’t, the people with free themes will overtake you. Unfortunately.

If you do have the skills to design your own theme, do whatever makes you feel comfortable. If you are comfortable with using someone else’s work, go for it. However, don’t forget that your theme says more about you than you think.

© 2018 Martijn van den Broeck
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