What Are Custom Website Themes & Are They Worth It?

Author By Adam Wells

Last updated: 12/16/2021

Custom Website Theme

If you’re looking for help building a website or redesigning your website, then there is some information that we cover in this post that is good to know such as:

  • What is a pre-built theme?
  • What is a custom theme?

You need to know what the benefits of have a custom website theme are, and you need to know mistakes to avoid / things to be aware of.

You also need to know when you should consider a custom theme, and overall, you need to know what options you have so you can weigh your options.

Before you read this article:

First it is important to understand the difference between website development and website design, which are two entirely different things and I have touched on them in our blog post What’s The Difference Between Website Design and Website Development?

What is a Pre-Built Theme?

A Pre-Built Theme is essentially a “custom theme,” but it was not built specifically for your business and you may not have access to work directly with the developer of the theme.

Think of a Pre-Built Theme as a theme that you can get for free on WordPress or Shopify, or think of the Paid Premium Themes you can buy on those platforms.

Both free themes and paid themes are Pre-Built Themes. They were developed without knowing who exactly would be using the theme, but they were built to attempt to support common needs of most online businesses.

Free Themes vs Paid Themes

The main difference between free themes and paid themes is that, paid themes are typically said to offer more features and functionality, so the paid themes should theoretically support your business better in terms of giving you the ability to set up your website’s appearance without needing to know code.

Paid themes therefore, are developed to a better standard than free themes (generally speaking).

Pros of Pre-Built Themes

So the upside of using a pre-built theme is that you can use the functionality that has already been developed to quickly set up your website for a lower cost.

Cons of Pre-Built Themes

  • You’re limited to what has already been built in the theme (which was not built specifically for you / your brand), so you may run into limitations
  • There is a good chance of your theme being less than ideal when it comes to performance, code, speed, markup, styling, SEO etc.
  • If you want / need customizations, they are going to cost more and/or they are going to be far less optimized for SEO, speed and performance.
    • Why?
      • Unless you get direct access to the developer that made the pre-built theme you are using, the developer you hire is going to have to adapt to how someone else coded a theme (and not all themes are created/coded equally)
      • This opens up more room for error
      • Many times, developers will have to “pile code on top of code” that is already set in the theme. Your developer is going to be fighting with conflicting stylesheets, javascript etc.
      • Over the long run, when a developer fixes/customizes one section of a page, other sections and/or pages are likely to break due to dependencies throughout theme files.
      • Overall, this is not going to be a scalable route for your business and you’re likely going to need a custom developed theme (at least at some point, but the sooner the better).

What Is A Custom Theme?

Custom themes are really the same as free or paid themes with one big exception.

Custom themes are (or at least are supposed to be) developed from scratch directly by the developer you are working with, which has many benefits as long as you’re working with the right developer.

Think of a custom theme as a theme built in-house from the ground up. The person or team that develops the custom theme has complete control over the quality of the product from start to finish.

Benefits of Good Custom Themes

  • Much more professional, custom design
  • Better performance: better speed, better SEO, better markup, better conversion rates etc.
  • Decreased future development costs
  • Decreased costs to update and manage your website because the theme enabling more efficient and effective website management
  • Scalability of website customizations and functionality

Myths About Custom Themes

  • Custom themes cost more
    • This is false because custom themes should have a base functionality / a base theme that is ready to go out-of-the-box just like a pre-built theme
    • Custom themes cost more if “custom development” needs done, but the same is true if you are using a pre-built theme and need customization.
    • But if the theme is developed with enough functionality, it can support most of your needs out-of-the-box and in a more optimized way than many/most pre-built themes
  • Custom themes take longer to launch websites on
    • Custom themes can take longer to launch websites if custom development needs done, but the same is true for pre-built themes
  • If Your Website Appears To Be Customized, You Have A Custom Theme
    • People may be editing / coding on top of a pre-built theme, which can (and usually does) have drawbacks.

When Are Custom Websites / Themes Worth It?

The answer is….. Always! As long as you find the right offering.

This is why we’re offering tiered services with custom themes. We enjoy helping people and are working to make our services affordable for businesses of all sizes.

Looking For Help With Your Website?

If you’re dealing with limitations on your current website platform and / or theme, or you are ready to take your website performance to the next level please get in touch. We are more than happy to see how we can help each other succeed.

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