Should I Pick a Theme or Custom Design for my WordPress Website?

Web DesignWordPress

Image compare themed websites and custom design websites. The chart has two columns with headers:

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    It’s a conversation we have often here at TechArk – we are sitting down with a business owner in Hampton Roads (or on a remote call), and we get to the part of the discussion that discusses whether to go with a themed site or a custom design.

    Unless you have experience with websites yourself, you may not have heard of these two approaches or why they matter to your website. But choosing the right fit for your next website redesign is simpler than you might think.

    What is a WordPress theme?

    WordPress themes provide the visual framework of websites through a combination of layouts and plugins. Site builders and web design companies use themes as part of the WordPress website development process.

    WordPress themes typically include:

    • Page templates
    • Flexible layout/design options
    • WordPress plugins (for functionality)
    • A page builder
    • A specific use case (i.e., a theme for a profession or audience type)

    A theme can be built from scratch or a developer can use a theme from a market such as ThemeForest or YouTheme. For the purposes of this blog, when we refer to “themes,” we refer to existing templates.

    How to decide between a theme and a custom design?

    WordPress themes come into the conversation once we build the basic business requirements for the site, as they touch upon all these different areas. Deciding whether or not to use a theme has an impact on:

    • Total cost – It is generally less expensive to build a site with a prepackaged theme. 
    • Development time – It is generally quicker to develop a site with a prepackaged theme, though that may depend on the type of content and number of pages. 
    • SEO benefits – Custom designed websites offer greater SEO advantages. 
    • Performance – Custom websites generally have better performance than prepackaged themes. 
    • Flexibility – Both options can be flexible, depending on the theme and page builder selected. 
    • Integrations – Some pre-themed websites will have certain integrations built in, while a custom website design allows you more flexibility.

    Which kind of site should I pick: a pre-built theme or a custom design?

    At TechArk, we build and maintain both types of websites for our clients. Based on our 12 years of experience as a web design firm working with businesses in Virginia, here’s what we advise:

    • If your website or business is small, a themed website is the better option for you. This is because themed websites are more cost-effective and quicker to build. 
    • If you have a large business or website, you should pick a custom-designed website. As our rule, we will not develop themed websites for sites that are larger than 50 pages. 
    • If you like custom animation or want a single-page website, both themed websites and custom-designed websites will work. Theme markets sell single-page layouts with custom animations; however, for more complex designs, a custom-designed option will work best. 
    • Either website design option will work for blogs or content-driven websites. If you plan on publishing a large amount of content (such as articles for email newsletters) without major layout changes, themed and custom designs work well for both use cases.

    Choose a web design firm that knows the territory

    If you’ve reached the end of this article and still need help deciding what you need for your new website, TechArk is here to help. We’ve been designing and building sites for more than a decade. Browse our portfolio, and see what your next website could look like.

    Book a free, no-obligation consultation to talk about WordPress website options for your business today!

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