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Custom Website vs. WordPress Themes: Which one Should You Pick?

Posted In Wordpress Themes, Wordpress tips - By Techtiplib on Friday, May 23rd, 2014 With No Comments »

WordPress has become one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world. It includes the ability to change the layout and appearance of a website through the application of themes. Hundreds of themes are currently available. Anyone starting a website will need to decide whether to use WordPress themes or to create a custom website from the ground up. There are several points to consider when making this decision.

Recommended reading: 5 Things You Must Look For When Choosing The Right WordPress Theme.

Custom Website vs. WordPress Themes: Which one Should You Pick?

Development Time

The first consideration should be the overall development time. WordPress themes contain a complete collection of files that fit into the CMS. They can be downloaded quickly and then applied to a website through a graphical user interface (GUI). A custom website requires writing all of the code and markup manually from scratch. It must be tested repeatedly before deployment. It is faster to use a premade theme.

Managing Content

Managing content should be a consideration. A custom website might not work with any existing CMS applications. It will be necessary to upload or modify files manually to make changes. A WordPress theme is integrated into a CMS by default. This makes it easier to manage content with a theme unless the custom website can be used with another CMS. Alternately, a custom website allows for unique or non-standard content a WordPress theme might have trouble handling.

Flexibility

WordPress themes are not as flexible as a custom website in many instances. Adding custom content, breaks in the theme flow or new design widgets requires going into the theme files, understanding the code and modifying it. This can be a large task for a complex theme that ultimately has unexpected consequences like breaking some formatting. A custom website will be easier for the designer to understand and easier to modify. Additionally, a custom website can be made to accommodate unique features from the very start so they are more stable.

Migrating

Some websites might not remain on a single server for years at a time. Migrating should be a consideration. Using a WordPress theme limits the number of servers that can host the site. A site must have server-side tools installed to support WordPress. This means a new host might cause a website to lose features or function incorrectly without the server-side changes. A custom website can be created to use no special server-side tools or to use only universally available server features.

Uniqueness

One final consideration should be uniqueness. WordPress themes are posted online and made available to everyone sometimes for free. This means hundreds or thousands of other websites could have the exact same layout and theme making it hard to distinguish a brand. A custom website will look unique since it is designed from scratch. The unique layout could help a person or business build a stronger and more distinctive brand.

Creating a custom website is something that requires technical and design skills or funding to pay a professional web designer. Themes are a fast solution for people who do not have strong technical or programming skills although they are limiting in a number of ways. A custom website should always be an option especially if none of the available WordPress themes fit the vision of the site.

Adam McGee is the founder of Lemonheaddesign.com.  He has spent over 6 years honing his graphic design skills and lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and two children.

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