January 11, 2017

Custom vs Pre-made WordPress themes - what should you use?

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Published: 11 January 2017 

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When you’re running a business and have a WordPress website, one of the first design aspects you’re going to think about is what theme should the website have? WordPress has tons of free and premium themes ready for you to pick from. Or should you not bother with that, and get a fully customised theme instead?

We have listed some pros and cons of each so you can decide whether you should use a custom or pre-made WordPress theme for your website.

Custom themes

PROS

It’s unique

The best reason to use a custom made theme is it’s unique. You’ll be the only one with this theme. Pre-made themes are going to end up being used by several websites. You’ll be able to ensure your business stands out from the competition by having a custom made theme. The last thing you want is for somebody to visit your website and think how similar it is to a competitors website.

Functionality

With a WordPress theme, the website will ultimately maintain some control of the functionality of your website. With a custom theme, you’ll have complete control over every aspect and function of the website. Everything you want on the website you’ll be able to get.

Helps create a brand

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Source: Marketing Mag

If you’re running a business then you’re going to want to create a brand. Having a customised theme will help achieve this goal. Not only will it help you be memorable and stand out, but it can also really reflect on your business and what it’s about.

It will look better

Not only will your custom websites functionality improve, its aesthetic appeal will too. Designers are never going to put their best effort into a product they release for free. You get what you pay for, and often that’s the case with custom themes. A designer is definitely going to put more effort into making the website look better when they’re also receiving a higher reward.

Security

WordPress controls a huge percentage of the internet’s websites. In fact,74.6 million sites depend on WordPress

CONS

Cost

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This is the big one. Custom themes are expensive. Sure, you have to pay for premium WordPress themes. Custom themes range greatly in price, depending on your designer. You can expect to pay as little as $300, or you could end up being charged $5000. It all depends on your designer and what you’re including on your website. If you’re budget conscious, then this is probably going to be the make or break decision as to whether you use a custom made theme.

Updates

This isn’t always necessarily a con, but is definitely something worth considering prior to deciding on a custom made theme. Will the developer be able to address future updates, such as fixes for bugs? If they’re not, then that’s something you’re either going to have to address yourself, or find another developer.

Pre-made themes

PROS

Low price

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A pre-made theme is going to be substantially cheaper. If you’re not purchasing a premium theme, then it’s going to be completely free! Premium themes will cost you, but the cost won’t be nearly as close as a customised theme. Generally, the cost will be under $100. You won’t be able to find a custom theme that will be available for that price.

Variety

Why have a custom made theme when there’s such a large variety of WordPress themes to choose from? With so many available, you’ll definitely be able to find something to suit your niche. Designers release new themes every day at an astonishing rate, so you’re bound to be able to find one that’s perfect for you and your business.

Future-proofed

WordPress websites are future-proofed. Unlike a custom website, you’ll be able to have constant support to handle any problems. WordPress completes updates automatically, so you won’t even have to worry about your website being out of date. You’ll easily be able to contact a developer, or simply type your problem into a search engine, there’s bound to be a blog or forum with the solution. With a custom theme, you might end up abandoned by your developer once they’ve built the website. No need to worry about that with a pre-made theme.

Shorter development time

If you’re time poor, then having a pre-made theme is definitely going to be more appealing. If you’ve already got an idea of how the website will look and function, then all you have to do is install the theme and configure appropriately using plugins. You don’t have to worry about design or front-end coding.

Ease of Use

If you’re not that great with technology, then pre-made themes are the better option. They are going to be far more user friendly than custom made themes. You won’t have to bother with coding, you’ll just have to install plugins to increase the functionality of the website. As Tubik Studio states, with WordPress, it's what you see is what you get. You won't need any training, you can just get straight to work.

CONS

They’re not unique

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They’re not going to be unique. Chances are somebody else is using the same theme as you. You’ll have to make sure you can choose a theme that not only suits your business, but makes you stand out from them. This may not be as possible with WordPress, and is far easier to achieve with a custom made theme.

Everyone uses them

While there are lots of themes to choose from, there’s always going to be a group of themes that stand out from the rest. Unfortunately, this is the group of themes that everybody uses. The more attractive the theme, the more people are going to download it. If you’re in a small niche, then it’s going to be more difficult to differentiate yourself from your competition.

Who did you buy from?

Do you trust who you buy your themes from? Do they follow the WordPress development best practices? Do they offer ongoing support? Maybe they’re not trustworthy, and have included malicious plugins within the theme. Some developers may even release their themes for sale, but then abandon the project, meaning you’ll have to handle updates yourself. When you’re downloading a free or premium WordPress theme, make sure you download from a reputable source.

Lack of customizability

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If you’re looking for a completely customizable WordPress website, then chances are you need to consider a custom built theme. The theme developer will have set up boundaries to limit what you can customize. Particularly with free themes, your options are going to be very limited. Using third party plugins can also cause additional problems. Often it’s a better option to use coding to customize your website, and that’s not necessarily an option available with a pre-made template.

To summarise:

It all comes down to what you really want from your website and what the most important factors are for you. Maybe you’re budget conscious, and are limited to a pre-made theme. Perhaps you need a completely customizable website made by a designer you know. In that instance, custom themes are the way to go. There are many factors to consider when deciding what is the best option for you. Think about what will save you the most time and money in the long run, and start to make your decision from there.

Tag: theme

Ben Maden

Read more posts by Ben

3 comments on “Custom vs Pre-made WordPress themes - what should you use?”

  1. Great summary Mr M. With regard to premium theme templates, I wonder what your opinion is of those that ship with drag and drop page builders that allow you to build custom landing pages. Are these a good option for the budget conscious, or do they cause issues with bloated code? Have a great day.

    MT

  2. Great write up Ben! Totally agree that it depends on what you want your website to do for you.

    Mark, with your comment about page builders and landing pages, I think these are great for the budget conscious.

    As Ben mentioned, in particular, Beaver Builder. Their code is mainly in the backend that powers the builder itself, so the front end is quite fast. I use Beaver Builder and Thrive Landing pages for building landing pages quickly.

    If you work on multiple sites with multiple landing pages, the perks of Beaver Builder for landing pages is even greater - you can create and share landing page templates between pages, sites in a network and between other WordPress installs.

    This really helps to speed up the process when you have your landing pages that are converting well. Hope that helps!

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