WordPress Custom Web Design or Theme Build?

WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) for websites. This is because:

  • There are a large number of available themes and plugins
  • There’s a large community behind WordPress
  • There’s ever-growing support from WordPress themselves as well as the web designers and marketers.

With WordPress you can design your own site, or get someone to do it for you, very cost-effectively. The standard theme-built WordPress requires very little knowledge of coding and many WordPress websites are built by people who’ve never been trained as a web builder.

That’s not always the case though, and thanks to the very simple and easy-to-learn CMS that WordPress has, many bespoke, custom websites are built in WordPress. This is because of the popularity and familiarity of WordPress. The dashboard which enables you to change the content and copy on the site is simple to use.

There are two main options for WordPress designs are:

  • WordPress theme build
  • WordPress custom design

We’re going to explain the benefits on both sides of these, but firstly, let’s look at what a Theme is.

What’s a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is a pre-built website design that you add to your WordPress website. The theme is like a skin or coating that goes on your WordPress core and changes how the website looks and feels, as well as adding in some different functionality.

WordPress themes are based on the WordPress core functionality and they don’t change the dashboard or the way the website works in the background, but they do change the ‘front end’ (what your website looks like to a user) dramatically.

Themes are built and supplied by theme builders. These are are web designers who work with WordPress to supply you with an out-of-the-box design that you can choose from a live example.

Most themes will allow you to change some, any, or all of the following:

  • Colours
  • Fonts
  • Font sizes
  • Graphics
  • Images
  • Sliders
  • Image galleries
  • Favicon
  • Footer
  • Sidebar
  • Testimonials
  • Video plugins
  • Menus
  • Header images
  • Header features like phone numbers and social media

… and much more.

Themes give you access to good web design and then let you customise it to your brand and business.

Good website design is important. Using a design that’s easy to navigate, great to look at and use, and creates a good user experience (UX design) is essential to the success of a website.

Many WordPress themes are designed by highly experienced web designers who know what works in web design so you’re usually in a good place to begin with.

Why is my website important?

Few businesses can prosper today without a professional web presence. At the centre of any quality digital strategy is, invariably, a great website.

Here’s the truth of that statement: in 2016, 82% of consumers researched products and services online before making a purchase. That’s a huge majority. The online market is currently growing three times faster than bricks-and-mortar retail.

Having identified that quality web design is important for your business, the next choice is choosing the right approach to web development, i.e. how you’re going to create your website.

We’re focusing here on WordPress – the world’s most popular website build platform – to inspire some lightbulb moments as you decide the right web design approach for you.

Which WordPress theme is best for business?

You can’t argue with the popularity of WordPress. It’s the go-to for professional web design. In 2017, it powered a quarter of the world’s websites with its six nearest competitors accounting for less than10%, combined!

So, what is it that WordPress does so well?

Two of its core web development benefits are key to its success:

  1. The easy-to-use back-end interface gives anyone the ability to manage content simply.
  2. It’s flexible and allows beginners to build a website and improve it.

It seems that the simple and approachable design of the backend of WordPress is a big plus point for users and with the groundswell since its creation, the love of WordPress certainly drives a lot of behaviour even on the bespoke side of web design.

WordPress offers two distinct web development options:

  1. Choose from a WordPress pre-made page template (a theme).
  2. Create a new web design from scratch.

WordPress themes are designs that have been created by WordPress developers (among others) which act like frames for you to use. You simply populate it with your own content. There are free and premium themes to choose from, with the latter offering a little more in terms of flexibility and function.

Is using a WordPress theme the best option?

There are thousands of themes to choose from but there will always be an element of compromise with a theme build. You have to fit your business and your website vision into the design’s inflexible frame.

Although themes are great and serve a very good purpose in the world of website design, we’d argue that you’re working your business around the template.

There are millions of themes and to decide on just a few that are the best for business would be nearly impossible – and more are created all the time.

To get a website design that specifically fits your business you’re far better with bespoke WordPress development.

Working with web design specialists like us, you’ll get a bespoke WordPress site built for you from scratch so every element can be adjusted to suit your needs, not the other way around. Well, actually, your site will suit the needs of your users and site visitors! That’s the way it should be.

Both options have their pros and cons, of course. Getting your head around these should help you choose the right web development option for your business. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to help you decide which is best for you.

WordPress Themes

WordPress themes are simple to use, and you have a lot of choice when you look at the marketplace. The premium themes are very cost-effective (from around $50) and you’ll have a huge choice of plugins that will work with almost any theme as both themes and plugins are built to work with WordPress so should be compatible.

With a theme build, you can ask the WordPress community of users for help or get in touch with the designer or ‘customiser’ who first set up the theme for you. 

While these may resolve the issue, it is likely to be time-consuming—researching answers, implementing them properly and then checking their efficacy through testing—and possibly quite costly. 

Also, taking the steps to stop the problem may only patch over a deeper problem that remains unresolved, meaning the issue can easily come back. A theme or WordPress template that isn’t regularly updated and struggles to keep up with WordPress’ own updates is a good example of this. 

A myth about WordPress theme builds

A WordPress theme build does appear to be more affordable because the initial costs are typically lower. 

But you need to look beyond the initial costs to really judge a web design’s long-term ROI and affordability.

You can normally get a premium WordPress theme site built for hundreds rather than thousands of pounds. But while you’ll spend less upfront, over time the maintenance costs can spiral, largely because of the time-consuming nature of editing an existing theme successfully.

This often brings the costs of theme-built website on par with a custom build, if not actually making it the more expensive—and restrictive—option. 

A website built from a WordPress theme is likely to share at least some elements of design and functionality with your competitors. If you choose a popular theme, anything distinctive you do create could be easily replicated by a competitor.

It’s difficult to make real changes to a WordPress theme. Even with premium themes, which offer greater flexibility than free templates, the scope of changing even small elements like colour schemes or default fonts can be frustratingly problematic. 

Alongside the difficulty, even the most experienced web developer can’t guarantee that making edits won’t negatively affect your website’s performance. Even one error in the thousands of lines of code can have a significant impact on its reliability and speed. 

Custom web design

Choosing a custom-built WordPress website is a powerful way to make sure your business is the distinctive alternative to the theme-based status quo. 

A website built from scratch can help you stand out and get noticed for all the right reasons!

Standing out from the crowd – being unique – is a priority for almost every business. As the centrepiece of your digital marketing, your website needs to different from everyone else’s.

Built from scratch by a team of specialists, a custom WordPress web design is a bespoke creation that gives you a web presence that’s entirely distinctive from your competitors.

From brand-matching colour schemes selected by professional designers, to optimised UX design that arrives from specialist developers, a custom design helps your website look and feel unique whilst also hitting more of your goals for the site in the first place. 

Custom WordPress web design is scalable, giving it room to grow as your business does.

Let’s jump into the future and assume that at some point you’re going to want to change something. Maybe you’re going to add more products or services, go through a rebrand, or you just want to keep pace with new innovations that boost your web design’s potential. 

By building every element, your web designers create a website that’s fully scalable. This makes future developments of your website more simply and quickly while also offering more performance reliability because the designer wrote every line of the code themselves.

For this reason alone, any business planning to grow in the future )or simply keep pace with online developments) would benefit from choosing a custom WordPress development.

Beyond the build, it gives you access to experts

One of the key points with any element of your business, particularly those related to technology, is ensuring that you can resolve any issues quickly and with minimum fuss. 

If an issue goes undetected or unresolved for any length of time, it can have a clear detrimental impact on your business, from loss of sales to damage to your reputation.

It’s important to remember that not every web development agency will offer comprehensive support beyond the build phase. We do (see our range of support packages here) but be careful not to assume this as standard practice.

But why should you need support at all, if the back-end management is straightforward?

Imagine you have a webpage that’s suddenly developed a formatting glitch caused by a general WordPress update that affects your theme. Your content is suddenly strewn all over the page, making it, at best, pretty unappealing to use. It’s a problem that needs fixing and quickly to minimise its negative impact on your business.

Having a specialist on-hand ensures you’ll get an expert solution fast. A custom build offers flexibility not only in the build but also in the support phase. When your web developer writes the code, he/she is also able solve any underlying web design issues with a minimum of fuss. 

No patches; just long-lasting solutions.

What’s the right website design option for your business? 

No single solution is right for every business, but the flexibility, scalability and long-term affordability of a custom WordPress web development makes it an investment that’s likely to pay off.

You might find that when you start out, a simple WordPress theme is the right solution for the time being. 

But a business looking to scale, the grow, and stand out from the competition simply can’t do those things with a template that holds you back from creating anything unique. 

Are you looking to the future and planning to grow? A bespoke WordPress development is the better option by far. 

Not sure whether we can provide the right website for you? You can find some of our previous work right here

Contact us today on 01189 306 717 or send us over your requirements and we’ll arrange a conversation. We build success and impactful websites that not only look great but are simple to use, aligned with the business, and 100% unique. 

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