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Custom vs. pre-built WordPress themes

Guide
by Stacy Parr Agency Finance Manager

Are you stuck between choosing a ready-made WordPress template and a custom build? Here I will go through the pros and cons of each to help you make the most appropriate decision for your needs.

Custom

Custom-built websites require a greater investment of time and money, however the payoff is usually worthwhile. Every step of the design and build can be done bespoke to your needs as a business and therefore the resulting theme will be 100% unique and tailored to your liking.

Good for:

  • SEO – the site can be optimised for search engines at every stage of development and therefore will naturally rank better than sites built using ready-made templates.
  • Customisation – you can make the site completely your own and stand out from competitors.
  • Responsiveness – it’s more important than ever that your website is fully responsive and works on all devices; some pre-built templates fail in this area. Guarantee responsiveness by choosing to custom-build.

If you choose custom, make sure that you use a reputable freelancer or agency who are able to offer ongoing support packages (explore the pros and cons of agencies vs. freelancers here.) At Gooey, we are strongly situated on the side in favour of custom WordPress, but is there a place for ready-made templates?

Existing Templates

Pre-built WordPress themes are immediately-available templates that have been developed and published for purchase at various prices.

The biggest driving factor for choosing a pre-existing template over a custom theme is affordability. Custom themes can be expensive due to the time needed to design and build the site to your specifications. These ready-made templates can be useful for those wanting to get a website up and running quickly and to a low budget, e.g. a freelancer or blogger.

Good for:

  • An easy quick-fix if you are short on time and/or funds.

The downfalls:

  • Lacking in longevity – if you feel like you will need to upgrade or update your site at a later date then a custom theme is better for you.
  • Difficulty standing out – it’s unlikely that you are the only one choosing to use that theme, and you run the risk of looking ‘cookie-cutter’ with no memorable attributes.
  • Not all themes are optimised for search engines and probably won’t rank as highly as a custom-built website would.

If you do choose to go down the route of pre-built WordPress themes, it is advisable that you check whether the developer follows the coding standards when they develop themes and what kind of customer support they offer.

If all you need is to get a simple site up and running quickly and cheaply, then using a pre-built template might be the right choice however, in most cases, the investment of a custom-built theme is worthwhile.

Need help with development work? Our development team are experts in WordPress, Magento, and HTML and are happy to help on projects of any size or budget. Get in touch.