Are You Getting A Custom Website or A Theme?


Over the years, we have worked on close to a hundred websites. A few of our current and past clients have come to us with websites created or designed by another company. In a few of those cases, the client has paid a web design company to “design” them a website.

But they haven’t paid for a custom design. Instead they’ve paid for a pre-made theme. I’ve listed one major reason why custom WordPress themes can be a nightmare. Another reason why pre-made themes are not a good option is that they are often bulky and very slow to load. Sure they look pretty, but they have way too many plugins and files that take the web browser too long to load. This obviously affects the user experience.

In the end, how can someone can call themselves a web designer or web developer if they don’t create custom websites from scratch or have little coding experience? I’ve heard of a few reputable web design companies charge $7000 to simply plug in content to an existing theme they paid $70 for over at Themeforest.

Full disclaimer: we have done this for a few clients on a serious budget. But we don’t take credit for the “web design”. We don’t believe this is true web design.

In saying that, should you employ someone to create a website from scratch, or buy a pre-made theme and plug your content in? Read on.

The system to use on a website varies on two factors: the server technical requirements and the developer’s level of knowledge on different platforms. Custom and pre-made templates have their share of pros and cons, depending on the site’s budget, goals and needs.

Custom Website Design

A custom website design involves a designing firm that will do all the professional work, someone who will focus on your brand, goals, and needs. The firm will take into account the SEO best practices and determine what ROI type you are looking for. With a custom website, you will have full control of the whole process and the features to be used.

Since custom websites don’t only consist of how a website will appear, the development process usually takes longer during the early stage. But, in the long run, it will save time since the designing firm will make sure that your website will perform as designed.

Website designing entails great effort and time, and glitches may arise if not done properly. This is where a designing firm comes in. Templates are great for simple organizations that want a website that works only as a business card and without intricate processes. However, if you desire more than that, then custom website design is ideal for you.

Theme-Based Website

With a theme-based website, coding and layout are already done. WordPress, an open-source blogging tool, and CMS, offers a wide variety of themes you can choose from. Theme-based websites are available on websites like ThemeForest, a theme website developer that aims to sell as many copies as possible.

With these premium themes, they often over do it with an excessive number of plugins that are unnecessary and too many plugins causes the page load speed to slow down. What these plugins achieve could be done with just a little bit of extra coding. When using plugins. You are prompted to update them for compatibility as WordPress updates are made. This can cause the site to break and you’d have to incur extra fees by hiring someone to do the maintenance updates to ensure no compatibility issues.

When using WordPress with too many additional and unnecessary functions like plugins and extra settings that are not applicable to your business, it can make your WordPress interface cluttered and confusing. Causing you to struggle to make simple website updates and changes to your site. We’ve lots of frustrated SEO clients with existing premade themes needing assistance to make, what should be, simple edits.

Some web designers prefer theme sites if a client isn’t too selective about the looks of the site. This way they can easily produce a website that is up and functioning quickly. Most of these theme-based sites have coding already written for customers. The only thing to work on is applying images and content, make some minor adjustments and you are ready to go.

Based on its quick setup, new WordPress sites produced from premade themes normally cost less compared to custom-coded websites based on a customer’s specifications. However, that is roughly the sole benefit a customer can get from buying a theme-based site.

The Bottom Line

A website can be an extremely potent tool if created properly, but a poorly made site can work against you. No matter what kind of website you require, the most crucial factor you should focus on is choosing the right designer.

So choose wisely and ask the question “Am I getting a custom website or a premade theme?”.