There are literally squillions of WordPress Themes out there, of varying quality; some cost nothing, some you will pay for, but almost all the really good ones have one thing in common…
They solve a particular problem.
WordPress can be made to do an infinite number of things, but the real value of a theme is in how many of those possibilities can be elimininated so it helps its users solve their particular problem quickly, and focus on the task at hand.
For example, some themes help you to set up a magazine type blog; some themes might make it easy to set up a shop; and other themes might help you set up a blog that contains Adsense ads using WordPress widgets (ummm.. that would be HeatMap Theme). There are lots of possibilities.
HeatMap Theme Distilled
In the case of Heatmap Theme, stemming from my own personal interest, I created a theme that would help me to experiment with ad placement on my blog. Over the last couple of years I’ve done a lot of thinking about it, continued to build the theme, adding and refinining features to solve the problem more comprehensively.
What all this development means is that if you are thinking of starting out down the same track of creating a blog and want to place ads on it, I’ve already done more than two years of thinking about the problem, and have built solutions into the theme. When you buy the theme you are effectively buying a head start on solving all this stuff for yourself.
Ultimate Do-Everything Themes
Of course there are a few ultimate-do-every-possible-thing themes out there in the market. Sure it sounds good. The power to design the blog of your dreams to pixel perfection is enticing. But wait. Even though the hype says that even you can become a super blog designer overnight with these things, and you can tweak every parameter within an inch of its life, do you really have time for all that? Or would you rather look for a solution that has already solved the problem that you have?
Life Is Too Short – Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Unless you are actually a proper web designer or are interested in becoming a theme designer, I’d encourage you to look for a theme that helps you to do what you need do, rather than starting from a blank-canvas-infinite-possibility theme. Look for solutions from a theme author who has spent some time thinking about the niche of your blogging problem, and chances are you will save time, and spend more time blogging, and less time tweaking and fiddling.
But if you actually like tweaking and fiddling…
If (like me two years ago) you find that your niche blogging problem hasn’t been adequately catered for, watch out! First of all you start tweaking a theme to make it do what you want, then you get frustrated and say to yourself “I’ll just make my own theme and solve all my problems!” and before you know it you have caught the WordPress themeing bug and end up becoming a Theme Designer!