With the rapid growth of accessible website design services, it’s easier than ever to get your website up and running.
While there are a host of free services available, most professional users will likely be turning to WordPress and will opt to pay for a better result for their business. As a user, you’ll quickly find yourself weighing up two options: a premium, pre-made WordPress theme or a custom built website.
It is important to note that a website’s theme affects many aspects of the site. In other words, everything from colours and fonts to layout, images, navigation menu bars, and so on are affected by your choice in a theme.
Premium themes offer an inexpensive, and flexible alternative to their free counterparts, they are designed to be easy to use and allow users to get their website built quickly.
As good as they sound, pre-built themes aren’t without these downsides. Many companies out there opt to have custom-built WordPress websites, which is the other option you can choose when designing your own site.
Understanding the WordPress core
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) and one of the most popular out there for many reasons. WordPress themes are the visual frames of your content, and in essence, it’s a set of templates that determine not only how your website looks but also what features are included as well.
WordPress is an engine, while themes are the ‘body panels and paintwork,’ enhancing the functionality of your site.
Benefits of a custom-built theme
One of the many benefits when developing a custom WordPress theme is that it has been created specifically for your business needs and will provide visitors with a customised user experience. Though it could be designed for more websites if needed for example in a franchises case or a sub-business.
The most significant benefit of having a custom-built theme is that it can be completely unique to your business.
For example, if you want an eye-catching or unusual navigation system, you could have one built to match your exact requirements. If you manage events and want to archive those as well as display them on your site, the best possible solution would be getting a custom theme that works seamlessly with each other.
There’s nothing unnecessary built-in and is more flexible for future additions or updates too!
Using a pre-built theme
When you use a pre-made website theme, the look and feel of your site is already predetermined for you. Themes vary, so it can be hard to find one that matches your taste and needs.
Many premium themes offer a higher level of customisation than the free options, but their code is often much more extensive. For some people, that’s exactly what they’re looking for and will work well – but not everyone has the time or patience to hand-pick everything from colours to fonts.
A prebuilt/premium theme might be a viable option for you if you aren’t ready to customize your site individually on top of selecting which features are needed.
But if you want to stand out from your competition, you’ll need a unique looking website. That requires heavy customisation in most cases, and that’s not where paid themes shine.
It is a common assumption that a custom theme is expensive but in many cases that simply isn’t true, for example: If you are able to find a theme that satisfactorily fulfils your needs in both appearance and functionality, it would be hard to argue against using it! But if you need any customisation to that theme, you would be looking at an increase in development time.
Development time can increase if the developer needs to modify code from another developer’s project or theme without first understanding in detail how it works. This can cause additional challenges, with the modification possibly adversely affecting other parts of the website, making your website vulnerable to bugs, errors, and crashes.
In cases like this the cost of development of a custom theme, even when it is designed like the pre-built counterpart will be significantly less.
Custom themes are typically faster to create, as the majority of individuals don’t need all of the bells and whistles that most premium themes have. This means your developer can focus on developing only the things you need, and focus their time and resources in order to develop them to the highest quality possible.
Improvements to page speed & website performance
Premium themes compile predetermined options to account for a wide variety of possible user options. Whilst a custom WordPress theme can appear to provide an abundance of choices, it is actually burdening the website.
Despite any design options you choose, your site is constantly loading all of its information upfront – making for an inefficient user experience by slowing the website down.
Behind the scenes, the code for all 10 of those footers is still loaded whether it’s being used or not.
The speed of your website is greatly impacted by a custom theme, and it can become frustratingly slow when you add the customization aspect. Loading times of your website can also have a big impact on user experience which is why it’s important to keep loading speeds fast.
Google penalises poorly performing pages so you should make sure to optimise the loading time of every page you create.
A custom-built website includes only the header design you need and no unnecessary code. This philosophy carries over to every aspect of your website – dramatically reducing the amount of code on your site and improving its performance.
How to protect against site-breaking updates
Premium themes come with a lot of third-party plugins, which you are unlikely to be using. This can create additional issues down the line when a plugin update is not supported by the theme.
Even a carefully selected and modified theme will eventually outlive its usefulness, and you cannot count on the developers of the platform to continue to provide updates for free. If your site runs afoul of an update that is incompatible with your current version of WordPress, there may not be anything we can do to fix it.
Plugins are great tools for building your website, but they can quickly clutter up the backend of WordPress making it difficult to update or modify the site.
In a custom WordPress theme, plugin integrations are kept to a minimum to minimize code redundancy and unnecessary vulnerabilities.
Some people mistakenly believe that when you make your own theme with WordPress, it means that you are missing a lot of the benefits of using premium themes.
One reason for this idea comes from those who falsely assume that all custom-built themes always have restrictive layouts and upcharges per module. While custom-built themes will not offer the same range of designs as premium pre-made layouts, they can still be designed with customisation options in mind from the outset.
Instead of opting for a pre-built theme, the customisation level is tailored to you and your needs.
Premium themes frequently include custom content types that are not included by default in WordPress, such as “post types”. Adding these “Custom Post Types” is simple and a key part of the editing experience. Many premium themes come with a variety of custom post types, such as Projects, Team, and Testimonials.
However, you may find that you don’t need all these additions for your business. A custom WordPress theme ensures that you get the content types you need and tailor the way data is managed to best suit your needs.
So what’s best for me?
Pre-built themes are still a good option for many users, particularly those with low budgets or small websites.
But if you need:
- A unique design to fit your business’s aesthetic and functional needs
- A clutter-free back-end with only the options you need
- The ability to easily modify or add to your website in the future
- To avoid site-breaking updates
- A website with an optimised page loading speed, built to the highest quality
Then a custom-built WordPress theme is the right choice for you.
Organik Web specialise in custom website design and love hearing from our clients about their ideas for a unique, bespoke theme. If you’re looking for custom WordPress development don’t hesitate to get in touch now.