Pros and Cons of Custom vs Pre-made WordPress themes
One awesome benefit of building a WordPress website is the tons of readily available plugins and themes. This generally leads to a major decision of whether to engage a professional designer to create a custom theme or to choose a pre-made theme. Each website has their own requirements and needs but there are a few important factors that you should consider before making your decision.
Take a look at the following pros and cons of using a custom theme or selecting a pre-made WordPress theme.
Purchase a Custom Theme or select a Pre-Made Theme?
Pros of Custom Themes
They are unique
When you get a designer to design a theme for you, you have a theme that is uniquely yours… unless, of course, you insist that the designer copy a pre-made template you like and to enhance it by adding customized functions or if your designer took an easy way out!
But generally, there will not be another website which looks exactly like yours if you were to customize your theme, from the layout to fonts to color schemes. With a custom theme, you get to decide where you want your contents, how many columns to have and how much space to be dedicated for each element.
You get the functions you want
A custom theme enables you to specify the functions you need and have them seamlessly incorporated into a viable design. Your designer will tailor the theme around your needs rather than the other way round as in the case of a pre-made theme.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are good in SEO, and want to create a website for your SEO services. You can ask your designer to dedicate a special page to showcase your portfolio (your clients’ websites), and a column to list your clients’ testimonials.
Custom themes are flexible. This is great when say, you want lots of web pages or require special tools or need to use a variety of features such as videos, audios and contact forms. At the same time, if you see a pre-made theme that catches your fancy, you can ask your designer to have similar elements or principles incorporated into your custom theme.
Cons of Custom Themes
They are expensive
This is the main reason why many of us don’t opt for a customized theme. Consider yourself lucky if you can find someone who is willing to do it for less than $500. Come to think of it, you may need to check the designer’s reputation if you do get a too good to be true deal. The last thing you want is to end up with a half-completed theme and an evasive designer who do not provide after-sales service or updates.
Most professional website designers charge a few thousands for a website design, depending on the extent of your customization.
Pros of Pre-Made Themes
Pre-made themes do not cost much these days. They are designed for the masses and hence, are relatively cheaper than custom themes. Take for example, Elegant Themes whose annual membership costs only $69 and you get access to ALL their themes (of which there are 87 now and a couple of themes are usually added every month) including customer service and updates. That’s less than $0.50 per theme per year!
Visit Elegant Themes’ website here.
Tons of choices
The best part of a WordPress website is that WordPress has a huge variety of themes available for various niches. And more are being released everyday. So regardless of whatever type of website you plan to create, you will definitely find one or more themes which will suit your site.
My suggestion is to identify your needs and then search for themes which fit these criteria. Narrow down the few you like and then compare them to find the most suitable one.
Due to my profession and my passion in building WordPress websites, I have used and tested countless themes. On this website alone, I have also reviewed many themes. For example:
Easy to use and navigate
Pre-made themes are designed for everyone and majority of these people are not IT experts. Therefore, these templates incorporate simple and intuitive designing tools that everyone can understand and navigate around.
Pre-made themes are ready to use once you have purchased it. You just need to install it into your website and make some customization (like the logo, color scheme and widgets) and it’s ready to be deployed.
Cons of Pre-Made Themes
Look like other websites
Using a cookie-cutter theme also means that there are many websites who will have the same or similar look and feel as yours, especially if it is a popular theme. However, good theme developers such as Elegant Themes and WooThemes always make their themes easy to customize.
For example, our favorite theme designer, Elegant Themes incorporates a user friendly control panel called the ePanel. Through this control panel, you can easily change the fonts, the number of columns, the menu, the color of various elements of your website, such as the title, the background, the sidebar, and etc.
Since many pre-made themes have designated areas for contents and widgets, you would need to tailor your contents and widgets to fit into the fixed boxes. At times, it looks as if your website was a cut-and-paste project.
Whether you are going to customize your theme or purchase a pre-made theme, the crucial thing is to give it some deep thoughts. Consider your contents, your purposes and your budget. If you are setting up a business website and needs consistent branding like a specific color for your header or background, then you will most probably need a custom theme. But if you don’t require any special requirements or have a small budget, then a pre-made theme may be a more feasible choice.
Finally, I would like to discourage you from using free WordPress themes. While it’s true that some of these free themes are beautiful and professionally done, many of these themes have links and advertisements that are not under your control. Free themes that are done by people with bad intentions may even contain malicious scripts! So, it’s a good idea to stay away from them.