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The Pros and Cons of Custom vs Pre-made WordPress Themes: A Comparative Analysis

Last Updated on January 12th, 2024

So, you have decided to launch a website with WordPress. Obviously, design and functionality are at the forefront of your mind. One of the first things you’ll need to decide is, if a pre-made theme can meet your needs with some customizations, or if you need a fully custom theme developed just for you. There are pros and cons to both: ready WordPress themes and custom WordPress design.

To simplify your task, and help you choose the best one, we will compare pre-made WordPress themes vs custom WordPress designs, considering their pros and cons. Before we look into that, we will look at the basic differences between pre-made and custom themes. 

So, let’s get started.

What is the difference between pre-made WordPress themes and custom WordPress development?

Pre-made WordPress themes are the on-the-go solution, which comes with predetermined functionalities and visual style; you just need to change the color, text, and images. A Custom WordPress development is a combination of frontend, backend, and design, created by considering specific branding and functionality.

There are a range of ready-made WordPress themes available in the market. Hence, you can choose a suitable one. On the other side, a custom WordPress theme gives you complete freedom to build a website according to your needs.

Now, let us look at the pros and cons of pre-made and Custom WordPress themes in detail. 

The Pros of a Custom WordPress Theme

There are two big pros to custom WordPress themes. First, you will be the only person and/or company online sporting that theme. With millions upon millions of blogs running WordPress, any pre-made theme is bound to be used by not just a few others – but many. So right out of the gate, you have a significant advantage in terms of setting yourself apart from the competition.

benefits of custom wordpress theme

The second most prominent advantage of a WordPress custom theme is bespoke functionality. WordPress and the plugins that run on it are notorious for keeping certain powerful elements (such as custom post type templates) just out of reach for the average user. But with a custom theme, you can have your developer(s) come up with all of the custom elements you’ll need to succeed in your specific niche.

The Pros of a Pre-made WordPress Theme

There are also two considerable pros to pre-made WordPress themes. The first is affordability. While some themes may be more expensive than others, they typically stay under $100. There is no custom option available for those kinds of prices. So, if you can find a pre-made theme that meets all of your needs, you stand to save a lot of money.

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benefits of pre-made wordpress theme

The second big pro for pre-made WordPress themes is future-proofing. Remember, not every pre-made WordPress theme is made equal. Not by a long shot. But the best ones all come with regular updates, good support, and a large/active community that can help with customizations, troubleshooting, etc. If you have someone create a custom theme for you, you’ll likely be on your own after it’s delivered.

The Cons of a Custom WordPress Theme

The biggest con for someone considering a custom WordPress theme is cost. It’s not going to cost you hundreds of dollars (or Pounds, Euros, etc.), but thousands. So, depending on your size and budget, this could be an immediate deal breaker for many. That said, it’s important to invest in your online presence. These days, it can make or break you. So, anything you spend on making your website an attractive and effective part of your business is a good investment.

The other thing you need to look into before deciding to go with a custom WordPress website design is whether or not the developer will address future updates, bugs, etc. If they are not, you’ll have to find another developer or online WordPress Maintenance Service to jump in where they left off.

The Cons of a Pre-made WordPress Theme

To a large extent, the downsides of choosing a pre-made theme depend on who you buy from. Is their code clean? Do they follow the recommended WordPress development best practices? Such as separating core functionality from theme design. What’s their support like? Do they have an active community forum for everyday troubleshooting? How often do they update? And so on.

The answers to these questions will be crucial in picking the right author or shop to buy your pre-made WordPress theme from. Only after getting answers to these questions, will you be able to look at the basics like price point, theme design, and features.

Assuming you get all that right, the one con that will always follow you no matter which pre-made theme you choose is limited customizability! Especially, if you’re buying a theme because you’re unable to get what you want out of a theme you can create or customize on your own, for the most part, you’ll have to stay within the boundaries set up by that theme author, and customize only the basics like theme colors, fonts, and images.

Key Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Pre-Made or Custom Theme

 Before we go any further, We would like to address the elephant in the room. 

The success of a WordPress custom theme creation project will depend on the designer’s skills.

Finding a designer with enough experience to match your expectations is easier said than done. You’ll have no way of knowing how the final product will look like, if you have never collaborated with the designer before, plus you’ll have to rely on the same person for all future updates. 

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Hiring a professional with a lengthy portfolio is the safest option, but as we said earlier, you’ll likely spend thousands of dollars before launching a site

It’s easy to see why most small businesses choose to build their websites with pre-made themes since keeping a web designer on the payroll is too expensive for most startups.  

How Much Time Do You Have for a Project?

Building a custom WordPress website can take months if you’re lucky enough to find a designer who can bring your vision to life. 

Don’t forget that testing all functionalities, and ensuring all its elements work seamlessly takes time. Rushing through this stage can only cause problems further down the line, and create additional expenses. 

So, you’re better off using any ready-made WordPress themes if you plan to launch a site within a few weeks. That said, some projects are too complex for pre-made themes, and your only option is to find a designer who’s up to the task. 

Growth Potential 

Ready made WordPress theme vs custom website design debate is pointless if you need a site capable of handling high daily traffic. 

Custom WordPress website design solutions are a much better option as they offer much more optimization than ready made WordPress themes.

In addition, you’ll already have the infrastructure to extend a custom theme’s functionalities as your website grows. Adding new functions to readymade WordPress themes is possible, but only if you know how to code. 

Hence, you’ll have to hire a designer if you’re not fluent in PHP, HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Alternatively, you can explore WordPress themes with lots of custom options, but keep in mind that they often contain unnecessary code that can make your website slower.

Frequently Asked Questions about Custom vs. Pre-Made WordPress Themes?

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Why is Custom Web Design Better than Templates?

Building a website with a pre-made theme cuts costs and saves time. Still, the final result often looks generic, and offers a limited range of functionalities. 

Custom WordPress development is painstakingly slow and expensive. Still, the extra cost pays off because you’ll get a unique WordPress theme that will set you apart from competitors. 

The benefits of building a WordPress website from the ground up go beyond a unique visual appearance since custom themes don’t contain unnecessary code. As a result, the site is unlikely to be slow even if it handles high traffic.

Final Thoughts

We would like to inform you that there is no straightforward answer when comparing ready made WordPress theme vs custom website development. As we discussed earlier, your website is essential, and a good deal of thought should go into how you want to create it, and what purposes it will serve. So, whatever you decide (pre-made or custom), you’ll want to consider as many factors as possible before making your final choice.

We highly recommend you to find a WordPress theme framework capable of doing what you want. If there is an existing child theme for that framework that suits your needs, then you’re set. If not (and you’d like some other custom elements), hire a developer specializing in working with that framework.

Ideally, you’ll get the best of both worlds: a solid framework from a reputable WordPress development shop that has excellent support, updatability, community, etc., and you’ll also get the custom elements you’re after. This way, it might be possible to keep costs down to a minimum while still getting the custom look and functionality you’re after.

What are your thoughts on custom vs pre-made WordPress themes? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

A team of WordPress experts that love to test out new WordPress related software, WordPress plugins and WordPress themes.