WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS). According to W3Techs, it powers 39.5% of all the websites on the internet today. The platform is so simple and easy to use, making it a favorite among a wide range of businesses. You may have come across debates about what themes to use and think, What’s all the fuss about? WordPress themes play a crucial role in your website’s look, feel, usability, and SEO, that’s why. In this article, we’ll weigh in on which is the best to use – Custom Themes or Pre-Made Themes to help you find out which to use for your business.
WordPress Themes: What are they?
To use WordPress’ words:
“A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.”
A theme is what prescribes the overall look of your blog or website. It is a group of graphics, codes, and style sheets that control your site’s appearance and behavior. WordPress likens themes to “skin” but does more than make your site visually appealing.
Your theme allows you to control the presentation of your website. It lets you customize your site and choose which features or functionality you want to include. Choosing which type to use is critical as it can significantly affect how your site performs.
The Different Types of WordPress Themes:
The platform offers three different types of themes, Premium, Free, and Custom. Here is a brief explanation of each to give you an idea:
These are the themes that businesses pay for to use, with prices going anywhere from $50 to $100. These themes are developed by individual companies and offer the following benefits:
- SEO optimization
- The latest in web standards
- High-quality coding
- Extensive customization options
- Full customer support
As the name suggests, these are the themes that you can get absolutely free. WordPress has a directory where you can browse through and find the best free themes available. However, there is a catch. While some free themes are created by professionals, there are those made by amateurs. Determining which ones require you to have a discerning eye.
These are the themes that are custom-made, meaning they are built from the ground up. For this, you hire a web developer to create a theme that they base on your requirements and preferences. You’ll also need a great graphic designer to make your theme aesthetically pleasing.
The Premium and Free themes go under the Pre-Made category, which we will look at head-to-head with Custom themes.
Custom vs. Pre-Made Themes:
Each business is unique and has different features to offer. Nobody knows yours better than you. But with the hundreds, if not thousands of themes out there, choosing one can be difficult. We’ll take a close look at these two basic types of themes to help you make an informed decision.
The only limit to what you can do with a custom theme is your imagination. A theme built from scratch gives you total and full control of its appearance and behavior. You have the option to dictate what you think will look good—from the colors to the fonts—you have creative control.
Ready for Growth:
Every entrepreneur aims to grow their businesses in the future. With a custom theme, you won’t have to worry about adding that call-to-action button. There are no restrictions to what you want to add as opposed to using a pre-made one. A custom theme gives you flexibility and scalability that pre-mades can’t.
A custom theme offers you individuality like no other. Since it is personalized to your liking, you won’t find anything like it on the web (unless you specifically asked your developer to copy someone’s theme, that is). This is perfect if you want to stand out from your competitors.
You can have your web developer design your theme using your brand colors and identity. This will give it a uniform look throughout your brand’s platforms.
Safety and Security:
In terms of safety and security, a custom-designed theme offers more than pre-made ones. A good web developer will use tools and processes that will help make your site safer and more secure.
Anything tailor-made is sure to cost significantly more. Your web developer will start with a clean slate, which means the task will be more laborious. And having a whole team working for you means more talents you have to pay for.
Starting from zero with a custom theme can take a longer time to develop. Whereas a pre-made theme takes as long as you can enter your details, a custom one takes time. Custom architecture and coding development are two of the many processes that will need quality assurance. All these can be time-consuming.
Requires Client Involvement:
Having a web developer design a custom theme for you means you will be involved. From design to function, you will have to give your input. If time is of the essence to you, this may not be the route you want to take.
Requires Developer Involvement:
When you need to edit or add something to your custom-made website theme, you may need to go back to your initial developer. This would be hard if you can no longer find them. You can always find a new one, but it will take time to figure out what the previous developer did.
One of the most generally known reasons business owners choose a pre-made theme for their websites is the price. As mentioned above, there are thousands of free themes to choose from. They do the job well without breaking the bank.
Quick and Easy:
With pre-made themes, you can get your site up and working in no time. Some themes also promise ease of use even for those with zero coding skills. This ideal for small businesses or startups that need a website in as little time as possible.
While not as customizable as a custom-made theme, pre-made themes also offer customization features. There are options available such as font types and colors that you can mix and match to somehow give you a unique look.
The best pre-made theme developers provide regular updates, good support, and access to communities that can help with troubleshooting and other issues.
Limited Design Styles:
While it’s true that you can change fonts, the choices won’t be as varied as with custom themes. This goes the same for the design styles and elements, which you’ll choose only from what’s available.
Hit or Miss with Quality:
Again, you won’t know if a pre-made theme is designed by a pro or a newbie. This is important as its quality can have an effect on its performance quality.
Not Built to Scale:
When your business grows and will need additional features, a pre-made theme may not be up to par. Adding plugins or functionality may cause the site to slow down. This means that pre-made themes aren’t built for the long run and may be prone to technical malfunctions more than custom ones.
Little to No Support:
While some Premium theme developers provide support, it offers little in reliability. Don’t even ask about free themes.
Tips When Choosing the Right Theme for Your Business:
There is no one-size-fits-all in getting a website theme for your business. To help you narrow down your options, consider following these tips:
Plan Your Features Ahead of Time:
Before checking out themes for your website, make a list of all the features you want in it. This will make it easier to find a theme or have one designed. You can relay this list to your developer or discard themes that don’t have what you need.
Think About Responsive Design:
Whether you’re going for pre-made or custom themes, make sure that your design is responsive. Your website should look good whatever device it is being viewed in.
Check for Browser Compatibility:
Your website theme should be compatible with most, if not all, browsers. Check if the pre-made theme works well with multiple browsers. As for custom themes, speak to your developer about this.
Get Themes from Trusted Sources:
To avoid issues with links, coding, and other variables, make sure to get your pre-made theme from trusted sources. For custom themes, you need to vet the experience and reliability of your web developer.
Test, Test, Test:
Once you’ve chosen a website theme for your business, test it thoroughly. Re-read your content, check all your call-to-action buttons, ensure that your images load properly on mobile or laptop.
Deciding on the right path for your WordPress website theme entails several choices you need to make. While both pre-made and custom themes have their advantages and disadvantages, it still depends on your business needs. Hopefully, this guide will help you find which one you should use.