If you're using a theme for your website has it been updated recently, can you update it or are you stuck with what you've got?

I occasionally inherit websites that were originally created using an off the shelf theme. Using a theme like this can appear to be an effective low cost solution to getting a website that looks good live.

Like all things computer related everything is in a constant state of being updated and changed. Websites CMSs (Content Management System) are no different. There are updates every week on the websites we manage. Both Joomla and Wordpress have seen a lot of major changes and improves over just the last couple of years. The reason I am writing this is because we have seen many of the themes used in websites have not been supported through these changes. Leaving the website stuck in an out of date, probably insecure version of their CMS.

CMS systems like Joomla and Wordpress are built with specific ways of managing the content. This is core to the way they function. In principle a well designed theme should work with this. If at a future date you decide, for whatever reason, to change the look of your website you should be able to swap to a different theme or have one created bespoke for you without any major upheaval of your existing content.

But sadly many themes don't work this way. Some have their own ways of handling the content data, unique to the theme. It probably works really well for whatever reasons this was done. But, and I suspect this isn't completely unintentional, this makes it very difficult to swap to a different theme and develop a new one without effectively losing your current content. Due to the unique way some themes manage the data it can make it very impractical to migrate to the conventional format. It should be noted that there are tools available for doing this in some situations.

If you're 'locked into' a specific theme your choices may be limited but while it is supported you should be ok. The problem arises when a theme stops being supported and you find you can no longer update the CMS. In the process your website becomes insecure. You have some possibly expensive options, start again with a new site or try and convert the existing one.

We've seen more than a view websites in this position. Needless to say it is one of the reasons we build bespoke websites. Our websites can always be updated, and because the standard structure of the website is used you can apply something different in the future.

We look to long term solutions for your website so it will grow and change with you.

Cavespider, making life a little easier

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