Your New WordPress Site: Custom Designed or Pre-Designed Theme?
Your New WordPress Site: Custom Designed or Pre-Designed Theme?
Ah, it’s time for a new website… You likely have more options now that you did the last time you had your website designed. With so many different web building platforms available, even more templates and styles developed for them, and developers and designers like Alt Creative to help you turn those styles into whatever you’d like them to be, building a website today is the definition of being “spoiled for choice.”
And yet it also can be the definition of “decision fatigue” or “complete overwhelm.” Not only do you have the actual look and feel of your site to make decisions about, but you also have to think about which provider can offer you the most robust yet easily editable designs, and at a price that’s right for you.
Where should you start? How can you get the most bang for your buck? How are you even looking to reset your brand in the first place?
These are all common and healthy questions that business owners face when considering a redesign. In this post, we’ll answer ‘em all, but first, a little history on our favorite platform: WordPress.
The History of WordPress in All of Its Glory
If you’re a long time follower of Alt Creative, you know how much we love WordPress. We’ve been designing websites for more than 15 years now, but everything changed about 6-7 years ago when WordPress began to get popular. WordPress made it so easy for us to take our custom web designs and put them on a platform that our clients could use to make continuous changes. Fast forward to 2015 and the WordPress development community has blown up. Many of the community’s 250,000 WordPress developers have created premium, pre-designed and developed themes, allowing for even more options for creating a website on WordPress.Just picking WordPress as your go-to platform will significantly reduce the amount of decisions you’ll have to make. But there are still a few more options to consider you’ll have to make a call on:
- Option A: Custom web design (THINK: We design an exclusive website designed just for you, based on your brand and content, using the WordPress tools and platform)
- Option B: Pre-designed theme setup (THINK: You choose an almost-ready-out-of-the-box website template for us to edit to fit your brand and content)
Each of these options have advantages and disadvantages. So let’s dig in.
Custom Website Design:
A custom website is a site designed just for you. It is exclusive to your brand and content. It takes time to create, but the end product is tailored to your goals.Advantages:
- Exclusive design – No one else’s website will look like yours.
- Gives you the most control over the look & feel of your site – down to the pixel.
- Tailored to your specific content and call-to-actions.
- Doesn’t limit you – If you want a certain kind of functionality, we can do it without being limited by the types of plugins your chosen template allows for. Should you need to change your site as your company evolves, your web designers can most likely do that for you without having to do an entire overhaul (depending on the extent of what you’re looking for).
- Good SEO-from the ground up – While most templates these days will adhere to best SEO-practices and will have many SEO-features built-in, with a custom-built site you can ensure without a doubt that these practices have been followed. You can also edit the site as these practices evolve.
- Costs a bit more – Since the designer/developer will be create the look/feel of your site from scratch and then developing it (again, from scratch), this option takes the most time (and therefore, cost).
- Takes longer – Again, since it is a custom design that previously did not exist, the development time will be significant.
- Upkeep – When you want to increase the functionality of your site, doing so may not be as simple as dropping in a plugin. You’ll most likely have to return to your developer or designer for more help.
A pre-designed theme is an existing WordPress theme that is purchased from a premium developer. These themes have already been designed and developed and come with many options to customize your installation.Advantages:
- Quicker to setup – There is still plenty for your web designer/developer to do when setting up one of these pre-designed themes, but most of the heavy lifting is done.
- More affordable – Less work means less time and less dough!
- Bonus functionality – Some of these themes come with bonus features that you may not utilize now but could come in handy in the future.
- Easier to edit on your own – While you may still need to return to your developer or designer for bigger redesigns, most WordPress templates come with drag and drop plug-ins and other features that you can install yourself. If you’re tech savvy, you may also be able to troubleshoot various site issues on your own as well, all without necessarily needing to know HTML or CSS.
- Customization is limited – There is only so much you can edit with a pre-designed theme.
- Not unique – A pre-designed theme can still be customized to your brand’s logo, fonts, color, and visuals. However, layouts, page structures, etc are not as customizable.
- Browser compatibility is pre-determined by the original developer.
- Not all templates are made SEO-friendly.
- You may be limited in growth – Yes, template plug-ins et al. do make it easier to grow on your own – but only to a point. If you want to add an entirely new capability to your site that’s beyond what the template offers, you’ll have to make a new site.
Additional things to consider when making your decision:There are some gorgeous pre-designed themes out there to choose from. But it is important to evaluate if they fit your needs. Remember, these pre-designed themes are created for imaginary or faceless businesses. They are not unique to the exact set of feature you may need. Additionally, the developers of these themes are selling to a mass market so support is sometimes hard to come by. If you are hiring a developer like Alt Creative to modify a theme to your company, you can rest assured that we have the ability to support your site in many ways to overcome these drawbacks.While it might seem like these pre-designed themes are ready-to-go, it is still very important to have a professional do the install, configuration, and customization. The documentation is not always easy to follow, so unless you are the kind of person who enjoys spending a lot of time learning new technical skills, this isn’t something to attempt on your own.
So, custom vs. template: who wins? The answer depends on what kind of site you’re looking for, how hands-on you’d like to be, what your timeline and budget look like, and well, you. Which sounds better to you? Let us know in the blog comments!