CINQ Partners

CINQ Partners

We are an agency dedicated to the principles of good design, with offices in Clarksville/Nashville, TN, Frederick, MD/Washington, D.C. and New York City, NY

Steve Wilson

Is Your Website Using a Template? 5 Easy Steps to Find Out

By Steve Wilson

At CINQ, we believe in beautifully-designed and well-developed websites.

They help to positively promote your business and communicate to your visitors. We also believe that they should be a unique, custom promotion for your business.

We also use the WordPress content management system as a base for all of our client sites. It is open-source, scalable and a great way to allow businesses to gain control of their content.

With the ease of WordPress also comes the ease of templating/theming. For anywhere from free to $100, anyone can download and install a professional website theme on their WordPress site. These are great for some small businesses, blogs and other websites. They can make you look good fast. However, there is a certainty that your website will not only have similarities to many other sites on the Web, but look nearly identical.

Does your business want a “quick fix” that looks like everyone else? Or do you want a custom, unique look? Here is a quick, 5-step process to find out if your website is using a WordPress theme.

Please note that these steps are only for websites that use the WordPress content management system

Step 1 – View the Website Code

We’re going to go ahead and get the scary part out of the way first. Let’s go look at some code!

Browse to your website home page using your favorite Web browser. Now, we are going to use the VIEW SOURCE command in your browser. Instructions for many popular browsers are below.

Internet Explorer 7, 8 and 9

In Microsoft Internet Explorer (7,8 and 9), locate and click the VIEW Menu at the top of the screen.

Then choose VIEW SOURCE.

You may also right-click on your webpage and choose VIEW SOURCE.


Safari

In Apple Safari, locate and click the VIEW Menu at the top of the screen.

Then choose VIEW SOURCE.

Keyboard shortcut for this function is:

  • Mac: Command-Shift-U
  • PC: Control-Shift-U

You may also right-click on your webpage and choose VIEW SOURCE.


ChromeChrome tool icon

In Google Chrome, locate the “Customize and control Chrome” icon in the top-right of the browser window (looks like a wrench).

Click this icon and choose TOOLS.

Choose VIEW SOURCE.

Keyboard shortcut for this function is:

  • Mac: Command-Shift-U
  • PC: Control-Shift-U

You may also right-click on your webpage and choose VIEW PAGE SOURCE.


Firefox

In Mozilla Firefox, locate and click the TOOLS Menu at the top of the screen.

Then choose WEB DEVELOPER and VIEW PAGE SOURCE.

Keyboard shortcut for this function is:

  • Mac: Command-U
  • PC: Control-U

You may also right-click on your webpage and choose VIEW PAGE SOURCE.

Step 2 – Locate template/theme code

Wordpress code highlighted

WordPress stylesheet – Click for larger

With the WordPress framework, it’s pretty easy to locate any theme or template files. We’re going to look in the <head> of the code and find the stylesheet file.

You’ll notice that the stylesheet link in this reference (our own website) is /themes/CINQ/styles.css.

With this, the name of the theme being used on this website is called CINQ. Now, considering that this is not only the name of the website you are viewing, but also the company that designed it, you have a pretty good idea that this site has a custom-designed, unique theme.

Wordpress theme code

WordPress stylesheet from purchased theme – Click for larger

Now, let’s look at an example that uses a purchased theme.

Similar to above, we found a stylesheet link in the code of a to-be-unnamed website. As you can see, the theme has a different name (Office), one that matches neither the website or the company in question.

Step 3 – Search for Theme Origin

Google results

Search results from Google

OK. Now that we know what theme our WordPress site is using, we’re still not sure if the theme has been altered enough to be considered unique or not. So, let’s go search for the origin of the theme.

  • Go to Google and search for WORDPRESS THEME (name of your theme).

Replace (name of your theme) with the name of the theme from your website’s code.

Within the results, you should see links to one or multiple theme design shops, such as Theme Forest, Template Monster, Elegant Themes and Themify.

Note: These shops do great work and develop beautiful themes. This is not a “theme designer” bashing post. We are only teaching businesses how to identify if their website is unique or “out of the box.”

If you find a search result that discusses your specific theme name, click on it.

Step 4 – Review the Demo or Screenshots of Theme

Now that you have identified your site’s theme and located it’s origin/designer, we need to review the theme for any differences/likenesses.

  • Look for any links for LIVE DEMO or SCREENSHOTS.

These will allow you to view the working theme and identify similarities or differences in your website. Many designers that don’t have extensive programming experience choose to begin a client’s website with a theme such as this, mainly for the enhancements, plugins and complex site structure. They then overhaul the design to suit their client. This allows a designer to focus more on the “look” of the site and less on attempting to develop necessary functionality from scratch.

So, your design, while using this specific theme, may look entirely different. You can then know that your website is unique to your business.

However, if you review the theme demo and realize that your website is nearly identical, you then know that your website may be very similar to many other websites across the Internet, possibly even some within your own market or industry.

Step 5 – Review Your Findings

Step 5 is completely up to you. You may be happy with your site, regardless of whether it is using a purchased theme or is completely original. The purpose of this post is to inform you, based on personal experiences from several of our clients. These clients agreed to originally-designed websites for their businesses, only to find out later that they were given themed sites that had been sold to other businesses in their industry as well.

So, now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

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