Advantages and Disadvantages of Custom WordPress Themes

Once your WordPress website has a design that is ready to be fleshed out, one of the first things that you need to decide is how to achieve that design’s look and feel. In the WordPress world, themes are the foundation on which your website is built. There are three main options when it comes to using themes:

  1. Free or paid prebuilt themes
  2. Theme builders
  3. Custom built themes

Using a Prebuilt Theme

Prebuilt themes are perfect for those just starting a business or organization with little to no budget. Some prebuilt themes are free, or at a relatively low price and ready for immediate use. There are many beautiful themes that are ready for you; just add your colors, images, and content. While this may be a great starting point for a WordPress website, these templates are often limited by lack of features, lack of flexibility, and are not likely to achieve your design that you’ve worked so hard on or paid a designer for. And yes, there are possibly hundreds, or even thousands of other websites using the same theme, so your website could be lost in the crowd. But you’re stuck with what’s available if you lack web development experience. Additional features or design changes are not easily available. If you run into problems with the theme, you’ll need to rely on the developers of the theme for updatesand that may be hard to come by. Your other options are to hire a developer to fix the theme, which can become costly, or invest in a maintenance plan.

Using Theme Builders

Theme builders such as Divi, Elementor & WP Bakery are great tools for building your website. They often come with easily customizable templates and tons of great features, like drag & drop elements, image galleries, form builders, and much more. However, if you’re not going to use these features, you may have bitten off more than your website can chew. There’s a lot of extra code in there that can slow down your website, making the admin interface of your page editor very confusing, with the extra features that you don’t need.

Using Custom Themes

The beauty of custom themes is that you get the exact pixel-for-pixel design that you desire, the features that you need, and, from Curious Minds, you get the support that you need. A custom theme made specifically for you means that you have no limitations. If you can dream it, we can build it. The means if you don’t want an image gallery, you won’t have one. If you need a pricing page, you’ll get it, and it will be built to your specifications, not a cookie-cutter template.

A slow website, especially in WordPress, can often be attributed to using a theme builder that has way too many features. Causes can also include a prebuilt theme lacking features, so you’ll need to resort to several plugins to achieve your needs. With a correctly developed custom theme, you don’t get the bloat of too much code from too many features or plugins. Since it’s specific to your website, you get just what you need, thus speedy page loading. Zoom, zoom.

Pinpointing Issues

With any WordPress theme, you’re bound to eventually run into a problem. Problems may include a conflict in code amongst plugins, a plugin that is no longer in development, a new WordPress update that doesn’t agree with some of your features, or a design that doesn’t jive with certain browsers. Each theme has its own individual challenges.

Prebuilt Themes

Good luck getting support. A prebuilt theme can be one-off themes released by individuals, meaning once it’s released, that’s it. They’re off in the wild.

Theme Builders

A theme builder that has good support might take care of these issues quickly. Theme builders tend to have a team of developers who work only on that particular plugin or application. Or they have an online community to assist with support.

Custom Themes

Custom themes often have regular support. If you decide to have a custom theme created, unless you’re a developer, you want to be sure that you have that support in case you run into any problems. This is where a maintenance plan comes into play. While yes, it is another expense, it is one that pays off in the short term, and long term. An experienced developer can handle those problems swiftly and efficiently. 

Maintaining Themes

Up to this point, custom themes sound super rosy, and like they’re the answer to all of your website problems. The fact is, custom themes come at a cost. Actual cost and actual time. A custom theme is going to cost a good deal of dollars, because of the time and support invested in such a project. And the more features that you need, the more those dollars will be, and the more time it will take. For a business or organization that has the budget for this kind of customization, it’s almost 100% necessary to use custom themes and the support alongside it. If you do have the budget, it’s worth the cost for the attention to detail, and getting exactly what you need, as opposed to what’s generally available.

Some prebuilt themes and theme builders will have ongoing updates released at certain intervals. Custom themes will need similar updates, and won’t necessarily get that attention until something becomes a problem, unless a developer is on hand to assist with any issues. Another option is to invest in a maintenance plan to provide the ongoing attention needed.

Regardless of what theme option you use for your website, Curious Minds is here to help you reach your website goals. Hit us up, and lets see what we can do together.

About Curious Minds
We are a web development firm in New York and Chicago, providing development resources and consulting for websites and mobile apps since 2004.