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Custom WordPress Websites vs. Buying a Pre-made WordPress Theme

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Updated June 14, 2019
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WordPress Theme vs. Custom WordPress template
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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

A custom website is preferable to a pre-made theme for real professional businesses – because the site is made without concession’s to the theme (working with what the theme has available – this often happens when you design based on a theme.) If you are a freelancer or solopreneur who needs a website, working with a WordPress theme might be preferable to a Squarespace, Wix or similar – because of how bad those platforms are for Search Engine Optimization.

This article will go through the pro‘s and con’s of Premade themes, and from-scratch WordPress websites – and towards the end, we’ll give our opinion on the best way forward for companies of various sizes.

Premade WordPress Themes

Very important points from WordPress Experts GlobalSpex about pre-made themes:

Many people and businesses are completely satisfied with purchasing a $30-$100 premium WordPress theme from one of several very reputable and wonderful resources. Templates have their uses especially when you just starting out. But with a template you are typically locked into a design and configuration. If you choose a theme, make sure it has page options like sidebars, full-page width, and header configurations for your logo and/or slogan. So say that your company has specific requirements for features and branding. That your brand is too important to leave to a predesigned theme and that you have features that cannot be found without doing some custom work. Don’t be confused by a design that is simply a modification of an existing premium WordPress theme. Truly custom WordPress themes are coded specifically for the company and its complexity. 

Pro’s of Pre-made WordPress Template / Commercial WordPress Theme

  • You can get one up-and-running in 4 hours.
  • If you are not a professional web designer – sometimes they can look pretty decent
  • Non-coding people can drag and drop

WordPress Theme vs. Custom WordPress template

Con’s of Pre-made WordPress Template / Commerical WordPress Theme

  • To really get one customized for your business they can still take upwards of 100 hours to really customize.
  • They still take someone who does this fairly full-time for the most part (then why not learn to code?)
  • Often terrible load-times from ‘Theme Bloat’.
  • Lower-end web design companies often make big concessions in the design for the sake of the theme.
  • Giant headaches for REAL DEVELOPERS later on if your company is able to afford professional services later on, because there is so much extra code that’s not being used/coded into the backend.

Custom Designed Website on WordPress

The company Tubik puts it this way:

For big websites with a complex interface or those that require particular originality, creating a custom theme totally adapted to specific requirements and supported by the CMS abilities and benefits can show itself as the best and highest-performing option, but can involve bigger investments. Any individual choice of approach should be made on the basis of the particular goals, requirements, target audience and budgeting.

In short – if you want a professional site – hire professionals.

Pro’s of Custom Designed Website / Custom WordPress theme

  • You design visually first with little consideration of the code – so it’s built totally around your business goals and fits like a glove.
  • If done correctly – results in much less code – much faster load-times.
  • The backend can be done much more intuitively for people on your team with only the ‘custom post types’ you need like team, symptoms, or services – whatever you need to make it easy to enter content, and nothing else.
  • Much less chance of breaking things because there isn’t STYLES mixed in with CONTENT usually.
  • A professional custom web design team will make your needs front and center, not ‘What the theme can do’, ‘Sorry this template doesn’t offer that,’ etc.

Con’s of Custom Designed Website

  • Usually sold at a higher price point.
  • Requires a full custom design phase, so may take longer.
  • An internal / admin person probably shouldn’t be going in and ‘building new templates’ – although they usually wouldn’t either on a theme /builder, and when a non-professional does this it can lead to some very low-quality looking pages. However, if done right with ‘ACF flexible content fields’  they can build out of pre-existing components that were used on any other pages (our suggestion for extensible long-term WordPress sites that look great – “Modular design.”)

 

Why we suggest a Custom WordPress Website for Professional Clients

When you pass a certain revenue point (maybe 500k yearly) – it’s time to get serious about your marketing.

Custom designed websites – allow you to be part of a discovery session with a designer, and an intentional visual design phase where there is iteration, feedback, and revision.

You will want this – because it helps you build in ‘key differentiating features’ into the very fabric of your custom WordPress template, and not get hung up on ‘what the theme can do.’

For instance, if each sale is worth over 5k to you – and if you believe telling your story in a compelling way can get you, 20 new customers, this next year – wouldn’t you be a fool not to pay a professional even if it’s more expensive?

That being said – even a custom WordPress site from some companies will still be cheap, and take too long to load. Make sure you do your due diligence before choosing a provider – and if you’d love a built-like-a-glove, lightning fast, modular WordPress website – send us a message now to get started.

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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, and strategic marketer focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses and construction companies.

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