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Behind the Scenes: Pre-Made WordPress Themes vs. Custom WordPress Websites

This video highlights some of the key differences between pre-made WordPress themes and custom WordPress websites. Use the full-screen button to make sure you see all the details of what I’m reviewing in the video!

Why pay thousands for a custom WordPress website when you could buy a pre-made theme for less than $100?

  1. Pre-made themes aren’t tailored to your specific business
  2. They are often very intimidating and cumbersome to use
  3. They give you way more control than most clients want or need
  4. They’re difficult to install, setup, configure, and maintain
  5. It’s very easy to break the design and layout
  6. They rely on third-party plugins and can become unsupported
  7. You need demo content to avoid days or weeks of initial setup

Pre-made WordPress themes sell themselves on being extremely flexible and affordable (usually $60 or less). Many of the most popular themes offer an incredible amount of customization options, but that flexibility comes at a hidden cost. Because most pre-made themes are extremely flexible, they’re also not tailored to your business in any way and they tend to be VERY cumbersome to use, edit, and maintain.

Pre-made themes essentially give you the ability to design your website right in the content management system (WordPress), but that’s not something you should have to worry about as a client. All you want to do is login, edit the content, click save, and be done with it. The website should update that content anywhere it appears throughout the website automatically. Editing content should be incredibly simple, but pre-made themes often make editing basic content extremely intimidating.

Here’s what you’d have to deal with every time you wanted to add or edit a page using one of the most popular pre-made WordPress themes:

Pre-made WordPress theme

Even as an experienced web developer, this is incredibly intimidating. One wrong move and you can easily break the page layout. Sure, you can create just about any layout you want, but with great power comes great responsibility — not to mention the amount of time you’d have to invest in learning how to use it!

In contrast, here’s what editing a product page looks like using a custom WordPress theme that’s tailored to your business:

Custom WordPress theme

Which one of these would you rather be using? When your WordPress theme is custom-tailored to your business you’ll only see the fields you need to edit and nothing more. Unlike the pre-made theme, you won’t be able to accidentally break the design or layout. Just edit the content and the custom theme puts it everywhere it needs to go across your entire website.

Aren’t custom solutions more likely to break over time?

No! In this case, “custom” simply means “tailored to your specific business needs”. When I create a custom theme for you, I’m basically designing the website and then giving you very specific control over what content can be edited and how it can be edited.

It’s actually far less likely a custom theme will break or become unsupported as it won’t rely on as many third-party plugins. They’re also significantly less complex. I’ve created custom themes for clients that have lasted many years without needing to be updated.

What if I want to change the design or layout of my custom website?

This is one of the drawbacks of a custom solution — you’ll need to hire a developer (ideally the original developer who created the theme) if you want to make major modifications to the design or layout.

That said, it’s rare that there’s a business-driven reason to change the design or layout of your website. With proper planning, your website should support the content needs of your business for years. If you really need more control and flexibility, that’s something we can discuss for your project and I can build the appropriate options into your custom theme as a feature.

I hope that this video and short article helps answer some of your most common questions when considering a pre-made theme or custom website!