I have been a supplier of WordPress services to digital agencies for about ten years. Today our firm builds about 3,000 websites per year for about 200 digital agencies. The leading technologies we use for the backend are advanced custom fields in combination with the classical editor or Gutenberg. Alternatively, we build with one of the visual composers, such as Elementor, WP bakery, or divi.
Premium WordPress theme or custom WordPress theme?
Over the years, I have tried to find ways to use themes instead of building custom sites from scratch. The reasons for working with custom WordPress themes are many. They are more or less ready out of the box with excellent looks and good functionality. If you want a restaurant website with a Divi dashboard and built-in menu functionality, then you can find one. Where we come in, and where most of our customers reach out to us, is when they start editing the content and tweaking the functionality of a theme.
The colors, logo, and fonts are typically pretty easy to change. Still, as soon as they start heading into changing the team page layout or they want to highlight specific items on the menu, they run into problems customizing. So, a few times a week, we get requests for help with finishing a customization of an existing theme.
This has been the story since 2013 when I started doing business with Digital Agencies. When we get those types of projects, we almost always end up building them from scratch instead of being able to implement the changes on the existing WordPress theme. Why is it so?
7 Reasons why to consider building a Custom WordPress Theme
1. A WordPress theme that you buy online is built to be able to work for many different websites. This means that many options should be available, such as choosing colors, fonts, and functionality. Each possible variation requires a lot of extra lines of code.
2. If there are 10,000 lines of code instead of 1,000 lines of code which you can achieve with a custom-coded theme, then there are much fewer things that can go wrong, and you will have much fewer bugs.
3. The less code (and pictures) you have on a site, the faster a site will load. This is at least theoretically true; then you can, of course, optimize.
4. If a theme is custom-coded, it will do exactly what you want. Sometimes this might not be important, but if your customer spends thousands of dollars each month to get potential customers to notice them, then having the exact functionality and look on your website can be worth the while. And to build your custom WordPress theme faster, you can always start with a boilerplate.
5. We have done many projects, and one of the myths is that it goes faster to produce a website if you use a bought theme. We find this to be false. Customizing a theme to be as you want it and then having to fix all the bugs that appear typically takes longer than just building a custom WordPress theme from scratch.
6. It is safer to have a custom-coded theme. The more lines of code, the more significant risk is that there is a security hole somewhere. This is also true that the fewer plugins you use, the safer the site becomes
7. If you purchase a premade theme, there is always a risk that the manufacturer will stop updating the theme, making it, so your website no longer works as intended when WordPress and plugins update. A custom-built theme will do exactly what you planned it to, and it will not be affected in the same way by external components and thereby become outdated.
If you now just bought a theme, or if you are about to buy a theme. I would recommend you think twice. How much are you investing in marketing each year? The website is often the first interaction you will have with your customer. It is worth spending time and money to make an excellent design and do a good custom build that will ensure that your website will be up-to-date, secure, fast, rank well on search engines, and give an excellent first impression.
If you are still going to buy the theme, I recommend you use only the largest distributors and pick a WordPress Theme that has been downloaded several thousand times. This will give you some guarantee that the manufacturer will continue to keep the theme up-to-date and secure. Some themes we see more of are Astra, Xtheme, and Elegant Themes.
The first step is to design if you build a custom WordPress theme from scratch. We recommend starting with the home page and creating the main elements you will use throughout the site. Features such as the header, footer, hero sections, and CTAs will often be the same on each page. When the design is done, it is time to create the text and take the pictures you want on the website. You then populate your design with the content before sending it to a developer to build the website.