Custom WordPress theme: the Pros and Cons

Custom WordPress theme: the Pros and Cons - The White Label Agency

At the White Label Agency, we build over 3,000 WordPress websites per year for about 200 digital agencies, and we have found that building custom themes is the key to delivering personalized and unique websites. With custom themes, you have the option to tailor a website to the specific needs of your client’s business. By choosing a custom theme, you can ensure that your client’s website stands out from competitors. So if you’re looking for a way to provide your clients with a distinct design that fits their aesthetic and functional requests, or if you’re struggling to find a pre-built theme that meets their needs without modifications, then a custom theme is the way to go. Read on to discover the pros and cons of a custom WordPress theme to help you deliver the best possible website solution for your clients.

Pros of using a custom WordPress theme

Unique Design: A custom theme gives you the ability to create a unique design for your website. A website is the first interaction that you will have with your customers. By using custom themes you can stand out from the competition. It allows the designer to create whatever web design they envision. Typically, the design is made in Photoshop, Figma, Adobe XD, or another design tool and then handed to a developer, who builds a custom front-end based on that blueprint. In addition to designing a site that reflects your business branding, it can help developers create a custom navigation menu according to their content. With a custom theme, developers can implement animations and interactivity: interactive menus, parallax scrolling, or hover effects. Pre-built WordPress themes mainly come with a set of predefined styles, but with a custom theme, a developer can add custom CSS styles to modify the design.

Functionality: Custom-coded themes can be designed to have the exact functionality your business needs. It has optimized code that is light and fast. Often, code in custom-built themes is only one-tenth as long compared to pre-designed themes, which are built to be able to work for various websites. This means that every customization requires extra lines of code. In the case of a custom theme, with less code in place, there are much fewer things that can go wrong, which means reduced bugs and errors, improving the user experience and overall stability of the website.

Additional functions that are possible include an advanced search and more sophisticated e-commerce functionality such as product comparison tools, wish lists, and custom checkout processes. If you want to display featured products on a website, you can easily build it with custom widgets. A custom WordPress theme also simplifies the job for a developer who wants to make adjustments to keep up with the latest design trends and user needs.

Improved SEO: A custom theme can perfectly be SEO-friendly. Custom-made themes have clean code that allow search engines to index the website easily. They also make it easy to customize header tags, meta tags, and descriptions, improving search engine ranking. Other factors that can benefit your SEO are better page speed and an option to design website content with SEO in mind.

Security: There is a common myth that custom themes have security holes because they don’t update when WordPress releases some updates. These updates are mainly for the core and are not affected by any additional layers with the custom page templates.

In some ways, custom themes sometimes provide even better security options than pre-built ones. Plugins are one of the main sources of security risks. As long as a theme is built with popular, well-maintained plugins, the risk of malfunction or cyber attacks is almost eliminated.

Also, fewer lines of code reduces the risk overall that there is an overlooked security hole. Developers can prevent threats by using secure coding techniques and following WordPress coding standards. They can also implement access controls to restrict access to sensitive areas of the site. With regular maintenance and malware scanning, which every website needs, the likelihood of security breaches is low.

Cons of using a custom WordPress theme

Cost: Using a custom WordPress theme can cost more than using a pre-built one, which may not be affordable for smaller businesses with limited budget. Cost can vary depending on the complexity of the website, and developing a website with a custom theme is generally more complex than with a pre-built theme.

Another factor that affects the cost is maintenance. A custom theme needs to be regularly checked and updated to keep it free of bugs and secure. While pre-built themes can automatically update, custom ones require a developer to perform these updates. However, in the long-term, a custom-made website can be cheaper because it’s easy to manage and has lower operating costs. It can also pay off in terms of customer satisfaction and higher website traffic.

Time: The design and development process of a custom-themed website requires more time compared to pre-built themes. Creating unique designs includes understanding the client’s branding and target audience, as well as creating a wireframe and mockup. Also, the website will need more time for coding, as the developer needs to create custom templates and functionality. Besides coding, extensive testing and quality assurance are required. As already mentioned, regular maintenance and updates are needed for custom themes and it also takes time.

Maintenance: Pre-built themes generally carry out automatic updates, while custom themes require manual updates by the developer. Both types need regular maintenance to remain compatible with the latest versions of WordPress and plugins. Theoretically, custom themes can have more installed plugins than pre-built themes due to custom features, which also means more plugins to update and maintain. Additionally, custom themes often lack the support and documentation available with pre-built themes, leaving developers responsible for troubleshooting and checking their own work.


In conclusion, a custom WordPress theme can offer many benefits for agencies looking to enhance their client’s website design, functionality, SEO, and security. Although it may cost more and require more time and expertise, a custom theme allows businesses to create a unique online presence tailored to their needs. Therefore, businesses should carefully consider their budget, goals, and resources before deciding whether to invest in a custom theme or choose a pre-built one.