Looking back on recent WordPress projects, they fall into two tiers – fully custom sites vs. customizing a premium theme—the similarities in wording masks two vastly different ways of building a website. WordPress customizing a theme is attractive for those with smaller budgets because you get a fully realized site for around $59. However, like most good deals, you need to look at the total cost of ownership before starting a web project.
Things to consider with a WordPress Premium Theme
- How popular is the theme? Do you want your site to look identical to thousands of others?
- Does it have all the functionality needed to launch your site?
- Can you support the inevitable functionality and design updates?
Unless you are entirely comfortable with the WordPress theme as is, you’re going to need to make changes. Recently, I found a great theme for a client until I realized there was no blog template; neither did it have breadcrumbs. These two elements would require a fair amount of design to keep them consistent with the rest of the site. Unless you do a complete discovery phase – be prepared to run into this type of scenario as things progress.
The Custom Route
The other option is to create a custom website with designs, and the WordPress theme built according to your specifications. This more comprehensive approach has higher upfront costs, but you’re getting a site built to support your needs. Expect to factor in a content audit, functional requirements, design, and then development.
How to choose?
Customizing a WordPress premium theme can work if your business needs are simple and you’re comfortable tinkering with WordPress. However, go the custom route if you don’t have any WordPress understanding and need a professional site. It may be tempting to customize a premium theme, but we are asked to redesign sites that have inconsistent styling, broken functionality. In addition, there is a risk your theme is no longer being supported and then run into WordPress incompatibility issues.
Ultimately, it’s most important to have a trusted resource available to regularly maintain and update your website from a security and performance standpoint.