Answer: Yes, we are qualified to build WordPress themes from scratch.
Here’s why we don’t choose to do so:
Consistency of support
We’ve been building WordPress websites since 2008, and as a result, we support a couple hundred of them for our clients. When the underlying framework is built with the same structure, it’s quicker for our support team to troubleshoot, fix, and make changes to these legacy websites, no matter how different the designs may be on the front end.
By contrast, if we had built each of those sites from the ground up, each would have its own unique code footprint – not good for keeping things supported as WordPress continues to change and evolve.
Which brings us to…
There are an uncountable number of “free” WordPress themes out there (or cheap ones) that look good to the layperson. However, if you peek under the hood at the code, many of them would make an experienced WordPress coder nauseous. The fact of the matter is, a lot of free themes are school projects and resume builders for kids who then move on and don’t look back.
The premium framework companies have a vested economic interest in keeping their frameworks up to date with the latest WordPress changes. They get their hands on the new versions of WordPress before they get pushed out to the rest of us, and work to make sure they’re up to speed with the changes so the frameworks don’t break.
As a matter of fact, they even drive changes within WordPress. For example, WooThemes came up with an awesome menu/navigation functionality – and it became a standard part of WordPress in 2010.
Segregating design files from core theme files
A lot of random themes out there build tons of functionality in, but it lives within the theme itself – meaning that if you change themes, all that cool stuff magically disappears – and it may have been cool stuff you built your entire site around.
High-quality frameworks keep the design stuff separate from the nuts-and-bolts function stuff, and allow plugins to fill in the blanks. This reduces the chances that changing themes, skins, or running simple updates will accidentally nuke your site.
So – rather than viewing starting every project on a premium framework as “cheating,” we view it as future-proofing our clients’ websites and streamlining our business so we can provide top-shelf support for years to come.