Let’s dive into the debate surrounding two popular theme options for new website builds: custom and premium business themes. Custom-themed sites are created from the ground up around the specific design specifications of clients. You’ll often see these referred to within the industry as “PSD to WordPress” projects. Premium business themes offer a stock solution to site development, where customization is provided at the front end by way of page builders. Selecting the right theme is crucial for achieving your online goals, whether you’re a small business owner looking to establish an online presence or a digital marketing agency seeking the best solution for your clients. So, let me share with you some observations from our experience at the White Label Agency, where we develop over 3,000 sites annually for digital marketing agencies globally.
Premium business themes
When it comes to premium business themes in general, WLA’s approach has been clearly stated by our CEO Einar:
“If you are going to buy the theme, we recommend you use only the largest distributors and pick a WordPress business 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.”
When to choose a premium theme
Many factors come into play when choosing between pre-made themes and custom builds, relating to design, functionality, and performance.
For simple websites premade themes will often provide a cost-effective solution that will look and work just the way you want. They can save you around 8-16 hours of development time and generally don’t require extensive coding skills. WLA often receives requests for theme-based sites from smaller and cost-conscious customers. For them, premium themes make the most sense.
The main reasons to go with a premium theme:
- For small and simple websites
- Fit a limited budget
- Where requirements for website performance and Search Engine Optimization are low
- Less design and development skills needed
- Pre-set themes sometimes match the requirements
- Perfect for sites that won’t require future functionality updates
In terms of the WordPress business theme, there are some good options available on the market.
Picking the right business theme
When choosing the perfect theme for your agency, consider these important features that cater to various business needs. These are the standout qualities of popular themes:
- Compatibility with page builders: Look for a theme that works well with page builders like Elementor.
- Diverse design features: Pay attention to the range of design options available to meet different requirements.
- Free version: Having a free version allows you to test your creativity without an upfront cost.
- Plugin compatibility: Ensure compatibility with WordPress plugins, especially WooCommerce for online selling.
- Customizable templates: Seek themes with ready-to-use templates that you can easily tailor to different industries.
- Speed: Opt for a theme that is both fast and lightweight, ensuring efficient performance.
- Easy to use: No need for coding expertise – a valuable theme lets you make changes hassle-free.
Check out the directory of business themes here. By considering these highlighted features, you’ll discover a theme that perfectly suits the distinct needs of the businesses you work with.
Custom themes for businesses
If you have specific requirements regarding visual design, website functionality, and performance, a custom theme will often provide the best value proposition.
From a performance perspective, custom-coded themes are generally light, fast, and stable. They incorporate only those functions your website needs, allowing optimized code. By contrast, sites built on pre-built themes retain a large number of redundant functions and contain more code. In some cases, we’ve seen up to ten times as much! The streamlined nature of custom-coded sites means they usually run faster and are easier to maintain from a Search Engine Optimization perspective. As the focus on SEO has grown, custom builds are becoming increasingly sought after by our customers. Less code also means fewer things that can go wrong — fewer bugs and errors with greater overall stability.
Custom-coded themes provide you with a far greater range of design possibilities. Designers are able to create mockups using their design tools of choice, such as Photoshop, Sketch, Adobe XD, InDesign, and Figma. These can be used by a developer, to build a custom front-end hooked up to a WordPress installation. The WordPress business theme merely allows designers to operate within pre-set design parameters, limiting their options.
There is an assumption that the price of a custom WordPress site is a lot higher than a premium theme. However, this isn’t always the case. Pre-built themes won’t fit the brief of your website without modifications, and the extra work needed for quality control and maintenance shouldn’t be overlooked. Einar shares his experience on the topic:
“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.”
For more detailed information about the price, you can check this article on our blog.
When to choose a custom-built theme
There are plenty of reasons to consider selecting a custom WordPress business theme over a premium pre-built theme. Let’s sum them up:
- Many sites require a unique design to fit aesthetic or functional requests
- Updates and maintenance become quicker and less complex
- No pre-built themes fit your needs without modifications
- SEO optimization is maximized, including parameters such as page loading speed, coding efficiency, and error incidence
- Admin dashboards are leaner, including just the options that you or your client wish to customize later on.