Custom Themes Vs Templates – Pros And Cons

Professional web developers often face a lot of choices when it comes to designing a website. But the most important one is deciding whether it is best to do build a website from scratch or find a template or an existing WordPress theme. Unfortunately, there is no right or wrong answer, but the biggest factor should always be the client’s requirements, not just for now, but also in the future. This means being aware of your client’s business model, structure, and goals down the road.

Understanding the brand or business for which you’re designing a website is very important. This doesn’t only include the products and services they’re offering, but also the how they’ll continue to provide said products and services on a long run. All this can help the web designer determine what is the best online strategy and in turn, whether to choose to get a pre-made template or decide that building the entire website from scratch might be the best solution for the client. Both options have their pros and cons which both designers and clients need to consider before committing their time and resources to making a website.

The pros of using a custom WordPress theme

There are two main advantages when it comes to choosing a custom WordPress theme. The first is that your website will be one of a kind and no one else on the internet will have the one you do. This is important, as there are literally millions and millions of websites and blogs running WordPress and most of them are using the same pre-made themes. This puts your website in advantage over the competition, as there’s a greater chance that the users will remember your website due to its uniqueness.

The second main advantage is that you have complete customization of your website. Not only with the look and feel of the website, but also with custom functionality in a form of creating custom elements which aren’t readily available to the average user, such as custom post type templates. Custom designs also allow for simpler content management and greatly simplify the search engine optimization techniques. Besides functionality, choosing a custom theme can lead to developing an ongoing relationship with the developers, which is particularly useful in case you need their expertise in the future.

The cons of using a custom WordPress theme

The biggest con when using a custom WordPress theme is obviously the price. The average custom theme will not set you back hundreds, but thousands of dollars. Although investing in online presence is important, depending on your budget and the size of the project, this may be a deal breaker for some. Besides the cost, a good custom theme needs time to be properly developed and requires a lot of dedication to every single detail, including the layout, colors, content, navigation, etc. This goes without saying, but the client can’t see the design while it’s under development and has to wait until it’s finished.

The pros of using a WordPress theme template

Unlike custom themes, WordPress theme templates are actually a lot cheaper. Although some themes are more expensive than the others, you can get an average template for just $50- $60. This is a bargain, especially when most of those templates come with free updates for as long as that theme is supported by the community. Not only that, but many developers offer free support for their themes, usually in a form of a forum where you can request help or ask questions.

Using WordPress theme template also means that the client knows exactly what they are going to get, and all there is to it is to add the brand name, information, and content. The setup time is short and often require minor tweaks before becoming fully functional. Most websites which offer templates also have a rating and comment or review system, which can help you get a broad idea how that theme functions and behaves and check how often it gets updated by the developers before actually purchasing it.

The cons of using a WordPress theme template

Unfortunately, most templates are limited in layout and appearance due to the way the theme was coded. This is why it’s very important to carefully choose who you’re buying the themes from. There also the risk of that specific theme template being discontinued somewhere in the future. If this happens, you might have to hire a developer to take care of any future work or get a completely new theme, which can be a waste of resources depending on how expensive the theme is.

Additionally, if there are any problems with the theme, you are basically relying on the developer’s good will to find the time to make it better. Now, most web developers are quite helpful and quick to fix their themes, but some may not be. This is where reading comments and reviews gets in handy, users tend to blast bad coders and developers and point out every single mistake or error which can arise from the use of a specific theme template.

Again, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding whether you’ll use a template or a custom theme for your web design. Statistically, more than 90% of clients opt out for a template, mostly due to the economics and the time it takes to set it up. The templates themselves are suited for most businesses and with a good developer, even a template can be made into something beautiful, especially when you can choose from literally thousands of different available templates.

On the other hand, if it happens that your client is asking for a specific feature which can’t be found on a template, then making a completely custom theme from scratch is the best option. This is mostly reserved for clients with deeper pockets, but have in mind that you can add custom programming to most templates in order to fulfill your client’s needs. Determine the budget with your client first, and then focus on choosing how you’ll make their website.