When you need a website, one of the biggest decisions you will have to make in the website development process is deciding what the site will look like. Undoubtedly, you have pointed out things you like about your competitor’s websites to your developer. Or, you may take the cafeteria approach and tell your developer you want a little bit of this site, and a little of that site. Either way, it’s up to your developer to create the website of your dreams. And for many developers, this is done on WordPress, beginning with one of their pre-made “themes.”
WordPress themes are templates for building a website, so developers do not have to “reinvent the wheel.” WordPress themes have code already in place, so it’s easy for developers to add content and images easily. And true, a developer can get your website up and running quickly and scaling your website or adding new pages later are relatively easy too. So it’s understandable to immediately think, that’s for me! Quick, easy, and indeed it will be the more affordable way to build my website.
A funny thing happens during the creative process. You will probably develop some genuine opinions about the presentation of your brand, products, and services on the site, as well as colors and style elements. And here’s where the WordPress themes start to lose their luster, and you find out, often too late, that a custom design would have served you better. Why? Here are the top five reasons:
1. WordPress themes have design limitations
With most themes, you can change colors, logos, fonts, and some visual elements, but more extensive design changes may be severely limited or not even possible at all. For example, you may want a custom content section on a particular page, and it won’t be feasible within the constraints of the chosen theme. In contrast, a custom-designed site is built with your website in mind, so it will be highly functional, visually unique and will include all of the extra features and attributes that you likely won’t find in a WordPress theme.
2. WordPress themes have constraints that developers must navigate
If you have a site and plan to integrate dynamic content, WordPress themes can be cumbersome to change. Custom, dynamic content elements like news, leadership, testimonials, projects, markets and services, may be limited by the theme constraints. Linking dynamic sections to each other throughout the site can be problematic, depending on the theme. In some cases, it simply may not be possible at all, or it may be possible with hours and hours of additional work on behalf of your website development team to change and modify the coding within the theme. It would have made more sense to go ahead with a custom design from the beginning in those cases.
3. With a WordPress theme, your site may look like everyone else’s
There’s a saying in marketing that says, “differentiate or die.” If you are developing a website to differentiate yourself from the competition, then why develop a site that looks like everyone else’s? Smart, successful, savvy companies understand that crafting a unique brand image is important for success. If you want to “fit in,” a theme works. However, if you want to rise above the clutter and stand out, a custom build is the way to go. Also, a custom-designed site is yours and yours alone. Nobody will confuse your site with a potentially less than reputable firm using the same WordPress theme.
4. WordPress themes are often weighted down with code and run more slowly
Most sites developed with a WordPress theme are only using a small amount of the coding that is available within the theme. For example, you may be using a three-across grid for projects, but the theme contains ten different layout options—two across, four across, etc. Each layout option code is embedded in the theme code, which translates to more potential coding conflicts for your developer. Also, loading all that unused code takes precious time when someone comes to your site, giving impatient visitors a reason to leave yours and click onto a competitor’s site. With a custom theme, only the necessary code is included, so your load speed is always maximized.
5. WordPress themes can have more security and maintenance issues
How safe is your WordPress theme? It all depends on the developer. While most theme developers are good at regularly updating their themes, many aren’t. If there is a vulnerability in the theme, you have to wait for the fix to be released. That presents an opportunity for hackers to infiltrate your site while you wait on the security patch from the theme developer. For custom themes, you typically know the developer, who will take pride in keeping your site up-to-date and secure.
So before you say yes to that “off the shelf” WordPress theme, consider the hidden costs and hassles embedded in the decision. For the ultimate in brand distinction, unlimited content, navigational options, load speed, high security, and low maintenance, you can’t beat a custom-built solution for your website development. At Echo Design Group, we’d be happy to help you create a custom site for your company’s needs. Contact us today to discuss your options.