Custom WordPress Theme Development vs Using Pre-Built Themes


Many of our customers originally approached us to build a website for them using a pre-built theme from Themeforest or Template Monster before deciding to go with a custom-built theme. While this approach is completely fine and widely used as an alternative to needing to know HTML and CSS to build a website, this can lead to a few problems:

  1. Sometimes themes aren’t well supported by their original developers
  2. Some themes provide way too many options, making it confusing to learn how to use the theme.
  3. A lot of themes are simply not flexible enough to accommodate many businesses.

Let’s explore these few items in detail.

WordPress Theme Support is Necessary to Maintain Security, Functionality, and User Experience

If you purchase a theme to build your website, this is completely fine. However, let’s WordPress makes a massive update to the core code. What if your theme isn’t supported? Will it even work with the new version of WordPress?

Many times a simple WordPress update can crash your website because the developer has not made the theme compatible with the new version of WordPress. Usually, your website will be fine. But what happens when your website is the statistic? The one that actually broke with an update. This can be costly to fix because the person you hire to fix your website will have to go back and figure out how the theme was built in the first place.

It’s best to just start strong out of the gate and know that your custom solution doesn’t rely on tricks and will be fully compatible with future updates.

WordPress Theme Options are the Devil

It comes with shortcodes. It has a drag-and-drop page builder. It makes you breakfast.

Theme options can be cumbersome. Some make it difficult for you to edit your website if you don’t know how those theme options work. Sometimes a theme comes packaged with every possible setting you can think of, yet, most people will not be able to use them. Even when good documentation is provided, you still have to know how to make sense of half of the material because you often need to have a background in development to understand any of it.

With a custom solution, you can have many of those options, but they’re tailored specifically for your business. A one-size-fits-all answer isn’t always the best option because it can become confusing if you don’t know much about your theme’s options and how they actually work. A custom theme with only the necessary options makes it easy to maintain your website.

Pre-Built Themes Often Lead to Limited Flexibility

Sure, you have a website up and running within a couple of hours, but what happens when you want to add functionality to your website? Sometimes a plugin works and can extend your website’s functionality without having to know any code. Sometimes this can break your website if the plugin is not compatible or well supported (see our first point about unsupported themes above). What happens if you need a new layout that doesn’t come with the theme? How difficult (this really means expensive) will it be to create what you need?

It’s best to weigh the options. The quick-and-dirty solution will give you the opportunity to have the website running in minimal time (depending on the complexity of the theme’s options), but you may sacrifice good design and opportunities for high-converting web pages. In our opinion, design and conversions come first, development is secondary.

Still not convinced? Let’s chat about how custom WordPress development can help you succeed with your website.