I have an idea for a software product that I am working on. I'm not close to being done with a releaseable version (by a long shot) but since I can't work at it at the moment I figured I'd ask about the website.
Which would you all recommend: using a CMS (and use themes) or pay a web design to make the site that way? Since I'm bootstrapping this software endeavor I was leaning towards a CMS with themes so I could save money (I'm able to do back-end development myself, but I just have no eye for design) but I'm curious to hear what you all think.
You can always use a CMS - like wordpress - to make it look as you wish. I do it all the time and let me tell you till now I have created ALL my websites (even my company's) over wordpress.
As a startup on low budget, you may want to invest in making your software remarkable first. You can always hire a website designer later.
All the best!
First, it depends a lot on the type of site that you are planning to build. A CMS can satisfy a very wide range of needs, but can become tricky when you start pushing the boundaries. The answers to this SO question are relevant here.
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2225705/how-can-i-leverage-a-cms-to-create-dynamic-websites/2225788#2225788 Second, whether you use a CMS or not you will probably need to invest in design and some front end development. Themes only take you so far, and a site that is obviously using a theme can seem unprofessional. If you do use a theme, I recommend using something very minimal.
Third, I know other people who have had some success getting freelance design work (e.g. using odesk.com) for very small projects. For a relatively small investment you can get something that is at least a lot better than what you would have done yourself.
Even if you got a professional you should still be using a CMS in the vast majority of the cases!
It makes it faster for them to complete it, and easier for you to keep it updated.
btw, I HIGHLY recommend WordPress :)
I use it every day.
You can always go with a theme as proof of concept to see if the marketplace will support you. If you don't have an "eye for design", do you have any friends that do? Get them to help you pick an appropriate theme. After that, if it works out financially you can bring in a design firm and "do it right".