WordPress Theme Development : Theme vs. Custom

Themes… There is so much talk and controversy on why people use them and don’t use them. We are going to talk in detail today about why we use custom themes and WordPress for our marketing website workflow process, and why just buying a theme and slapping your logo into it can be one of the worst mistakes for your website or company.

The Beginning

In the beginning, WordPress was created to be a blog platform. As it grew in popularity, it began to take on more roles. Next thing you know, people are making entire websites with it. Then plugins were introduced, and you could literally make anything with it. Soon, there were page builders and speed plugins and contact form plugins and you name it! The more this went on, the more it became common to purchase pre-built themes from notable places such as Theme Foundry and Themeforest. The main issue then became that creators of these pre-built themes were having to account for WordPress versions and plugin versions etc.., that they had to start including a bunch of bloated code to test for these discrepancies and making sure that every option they included with the theme could be used, which is not true WordPress theme development. Even if you only wanted to use one part of a feature set in a theme, you had to load ALL of the bloated code that goes along with it.

Pre-Built Theme Disadvantage

As I said, the real disadvantage is bloated code and slow load times. This can be very disruptive to your business or reputation. Pulling up a site that takes 7 seconds to load, and then it looks like another website you saw a few days ago with a different logo, is very discrediting. In my previous job, this was a very normal thing. Using the same pre-built theme for multiple sites and changing a few things about it was the norm. I found that customers were more aware of this than we give them credit for. The other problem came in with custom functionality. A lot of customers were wanting to add in custom functionality, and we would spend hours trying to find a plugin that we could rig up to try and meet the requirements. It would have saved us lots of time and effort to just make it ourselves from the beginning. Custom WordPress theme development is an art form, and pre-purchasing a theme is a sure way to get your website penalized for SEO issues, create a slow loading monster and have a site that looks and feels like a million other websites out there.

Custom Theme Advantage

This is really where having custom WordPress theme development done to create a custom theme really comes into play. A designer can start from scratch, build out an entire look and feel for a site, let the client or end user make suggestions or edits, then the designer can pass it off to a team of developers and have them code it from scratch. Now, this does not eliminate WordPress completely. WordPress is a very powerful and very useful tool. It services over 25% of all websites on the Internet. That is astonishing! Knowing the right way to use the tool, that is the key to having a great success story with any technology that you use. I would say that there isn’t one tool for every job you do. We use anything from Laravel to WordPress to full JavaScript stacks, and we always find that there is an appropriate tool for the job. The real advantage to having a custom theme and site built for your needs is that you can have the exact look and design that you want, without having to sacrifice load times and bloated code in the process. I also think a lot of confusion comes from the actual term “theme” in some cases too. We build “theme” site with WordPress, yes. The difference is we won’t use a “pre-built” theme to accomplish our goal.

What this means for you

This ultimately is all to say if you are looking to build or have a site built for your business or company, don’t settle and have a company tear apart a theme and try to make it work for what you need. Have a great team utilize custom WordPress theme development to have your site built. Custom projects are typically similar in price, and you can have it built to meet your exact needs. At 422 Studios, the sky is the limit for functionality. We can build anything you can dream up.

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