Back in the 80’s there was a car salesman in the Pittsburgh offering either a Yugo or further discount to every person who buys a Cadillac from him. The story sounds so ridiculous that until I checked this morning I though it was just a joke.
The salesman felt that “combination of the two fit”, however not a single buyer fell for it and opted for a Yugo. Why? Because if you’re buying a Cadillac it’s unlikely that you’re looking for a Yugo. It won’t make your Cadillac any better and if you really need a small car as well, why not go look for a proper one, instead of the one that was thrown in with something you happened to be buying?
What Are the Yugos in WordPress Ecosystem?
Let’s use SEO, a feature everyone agrees shouldn’t be handled by a theme as an example. Now, there’s tons of themes, both free and commercial, out there that have some sort of SEO functionality built-in. The theme may or may not be “a Cadillac”, but its SEO functionality IS a Yugo. Perhaps not in terms of quality (nothing beats a Yugo when it comes to lack of quality, trust me, I drove one), but you can count on both letting you down when you least expect it.
Try doing something as extreme as, say, getting somewhere in time and having to push your Yugo at some point is not unlikely. On the other hand, spend hours fine-tuning your website’s SEO using theme’s built-in functionality, then switch to another theme and see it all fall apart. On top of that, having SEO functionality in a theme makes as much sense as showcasing Yugos in a Cadillac dealership.
How to Avoid “the Yugo Trap”?
Being able to tell a difference between needs and wants is one of the keys to a happy life and certainly the key to a frugal one. When you’re buying a WordPress theme, or looking for a free one, you shouldn’t expect it do anything more than present your content, although it better be damn good at it.
You can use WordPress default themes (Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve, soon to be released Twenty Thirteen) as an indicator to what a theme should and shouldn’t do. For anything else, turning to plugins is in your best interest.
Cadillac buyers didn’t fall for one of the oldest tricks in the book — “buy this and you’ll get that for FREE” — because when they entered the dealership they didn’t do it with an idea of leaving with one and a half car.
If you’re looking for a theme that does, say, events management, portfolio functionality, shortcodes, you’re actually looking for a plugin.
Picking a WordPress theme that does what themes shouldn’t do is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you’re buying it because of how it does its job, which is, again, presenting your content and ignoring the features it shouldn’t have. Anything else, and you fell straight into the Yugo trap.