WordPress Themes, vs. Custom WordPress Themes

WordPress is by far one of the worlds most popular content management systems available today, according to isitwp.com.  With over 50,000 plugins and 30,000+ themes available to help bring functionality and design to your website, it’s easy to get lost in the libraries of content available for WordPress.  In this article, I would like to illustrate the core differences in a WordPress template versus a custom-made template by an agency or freelance developer.

Let’s Start with WordPress Themes

There are several websites that have free and paid for templates.  Each template has its own set of controls and settings to allow you to customize the website to fit your needs.  Mostly, individuals and small companies will utilize these templates to get the most bang for their buck.  When using a WordPress template, you are left fitting a square peg into a round hole.  The main tools are there, and you can get your website to a satisfying completion.  Though, when it is time to add/edit content or design to your site, you’ll find there can be several hurdles to get past.

These templates are built with the intent to be universal, catering to various industries and companies.  They come packed with features that may never be utilized or are too complicated to incorporate into your site without the help of a WordPress professional.  In some cases, these core features work perfectly for a time, but as your website grows your needs will begin to change.  This can be a problem, if your template does not allow for that kind of growth.  When using a WordPress template, begin with the end in mind.  Will it address your needs for the next three years?  Will you require some additional functionality in the future?  These considerations should always take place prior to deciding on a WordPress template.

WordPress templates typically come packed with extra tools and functions that are also resource intensive.  Meaning, your website may run slower due to several unnecessary background processes running.  This will ultimately slow down your site.  A slow website can lead to poor SEO rankings on major search engines.  These extras can also interfere with the use of other third-party plugins you may want to use.  Those conflicts can lead to many unnecessary hours of troubleshooting as well as additional work you may not want.

This Is Where Custom Templates Shine

Custom templates are built by WordPress Developers like me.  A custom template is a WordPress Theme built specifically to your needs.  These templates are created based off several identifying factors.  Such as, brand/identity, content strategy, layout, functionality, workflow and application integration.

Several conversations happen prior to the development of a custom template.  A marketer with a designer and/or developer will discuss your needs in detail.  This is to understand the core fundamentals behind your website and the presence you wish to have online.  Understanding your specific needs both now and for the future help maximize your cost and the longevity of the website.

It’s at this point that a document is created to outline those conversations.  You will revisit this document to ensure all your needs are properly addressed.  Once the details have been ironed out, the design process begins to take shape.  The approved design is than submitted to the developer, or development team to facilitate turning the provided design into a functional WordPress Theme.  Within this theme will be the necessary tools and functionality required to manage your website.  This includes individual page designs, custom page templates and custom post types that utilize the WordPress core.  It may also incorporate plugins.  These can be free, paid for or custom built, to help in managing your website with ease.

The entire process of creating a custom WordPress Template is meant for you.  They are your specific requirements brought to life.  It is my opinion that custom WordPress themes, while not for everyone, should be managed by anyone.  Once completed, you should be able to easily manage your content and design exactly how you want too.

I hope that this article has shed some light on the differences between these two types of templates.  If you are currently in need of building a WordPress website, feel free to reach out.  I am always happy to answer questions.