At EggCup Web Design we aim to build websites to suit most budgets. We build the majority of our sites using WordPress, which is already a cost-effective content management platform in itself.
But if you run a small business or startup and have a limited budget, one of the key considerations when it comes to price is whether to use a ready-made off-the-shelf theme or opt for a custom-built solution instead.
To help you decide, this blog post will briefly outline the advantages and disadvantages of having a bespoke WordPress theme designed. To help with your decision, you may also wish to read about the pros and cons of using an off-the-shelf template too.
The bespoke themes we build at EggCup Web Design are mobile-friendly out of the box. We use the latest web development technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and semantic markup to make sure that search engines understand your website, and to make it more appealing to your visitors.
Of course, there are plenty of responsive off-the-shelf themes out there too, but our experience is that it’s rare to find a prepackaged solution that is mobile-friendly, accessible to disabled users, uses the latest web technologies appropriately, and that fits the client’s own specific requirements too.
Alternatively, every theme we build includes all these great features, allowing us to deliver websites that work hard for our client’s businesses.
2). Your brand is unique
So why shouldn’t your website be unique too? The world now has in excess of 860 million websites, and with WordPress now powering 21% of those websites there’s a good chance that not just one website, but thousands are going to be using the same off-the-shelf theme as yours.
The web is a busy place that’s full of noise, and your website needs to stand out. That’s where a custom WordPress theme comes to the rescue!
Not to mention the fact that as a business you have a brand, and you rely upon that brand being distinctive and memorable. I can smell an off-the-shelf template from a mile away (it’s quite embarrassing how many so-called ‘web designers’ use them on their own sites actually). A decent off-the-shelf template can usually be made to look good, but they also often look the same. A custom theme is an investment in your branding.
Within the bounds of what’s possible with modern web technologies, the possibilities for a custom-built website are almost limitless. You can have a website that is designed to your specification.
This goes way beyond the typical limited design options you get with an off-the-shelf theme: with a bespoke theme changing the typeface and colour-scheme is a given, and making changes to layout and design elements is much more easily achieved than with a theme that has all this ‘baked in’.
Off-the-shelf themes tend to do one or two things really well, but never do enough to cover all the bases for a typical small business website.
4). Performance and efficiency
An off-the-shelf theme tries to be all things to all people. This additional flexibility requires additional code, and you’ll almost certainly find yourself not even using many of the features that come with your prepackaged theme.
A custom solution is built for your requirements, which makes it much more efficient because it requires less processing at both the server end, and in the visitors’ web browser. The difference really is noticeable!
Have a problem with your custom theme? We’re here to help. If the problem is caused by a bug in our code, then we’ll fix it for free. Seems only fair!
On the other hand, if there are changes you’d like made in the future then we can make those additions cost-effectively, since we already know how your theme works. No need to post a question on a forum in the hope that some kind soul will help you.
Let’s not beat about the bush. We’d all have wardrobes full of tailored suits if they were as cheap as regular clothes. For simple sites, our bespoke themes are very reasonably priced, but the price does take account of the extra work that goes into them, and the extra value that comes out.
If you have specific ideas about how you’d like your site to look, and what you want it to do, then a bespoke theme is perfect for you. And if you’ve been looking at the off-the-shelf garden variety themes and haven’t found anything suitable, having something custom-built that addresses your needs makes perfect sense.
Building a theme from scratch takes time. It won’t take an enormous amount of time for a simple site, but it won’t be as quick as installing a pre-built theme. One of the greatest advantages of off-the-shelf themes is how much they accelerate the website build so if you really are in a hurry this might not be the option for you.
A word of warning though: I always encourage clients who are in a rush to take a step back — it’s easy to overlook key elements if a build is rushed. Making fundamental changes later on then becomes expensive; even switching between off-the-shelf themes is not as easy as you might think once you have a live website.
Whichever route you choose, remember that a good website is an investment, not an expense to be avoided at all costs. If you do nothing else, hire a professional. Of course it’s in my interests to say this, but it makes good business sense for both of us.