WordPress: Pre-Existing vs. Custom Themes The number of businesses investing in WordPress to build their websites is skyrocketing as digitalized marketing becomes increasingly prominent. WordPress offers a simple base framework for online content; a theme is then applied on top of that framework to manage front-end aspects of a website including page layouts, coloring and fonts. A common decision for business leadership is whether to purchase a pre-created WordPress theme or hire a web developer to build a customized theme. We’re going to examine the benefits and disadvantages of both options and explain why a customized theme is the better option for your company.
Why Hire a Developer? The primary reasons a lot of companies use pre-existing themes is time and costliness. It is significantly cheaper and quicker to purchase a pre-built theme and hire a generic worker bee to manage it going forward. That being said, I’ll reference the age-old saying “You get what you pay for.” A worker bee can manage your content and styling in the most basic sense, but they don’t have the technical experience to enhance your website beyond that. A developer costs more because their services are much more comprehensive and beneficial.
Yes, a general site manager can give you a pretty website with basic content. A developer can give you a website with unlimited customization, optimized end user experience, heightened security and return on investment. Pre-existing themes might be convenient when building a website with no experience or time, but the endgame is an inferior product. The additional hours and costs of hiring a web developer are well worth the initial sacrifice; the decision will save your business a lot of trouble and substantially increase revenue in the long run.
A huge downfall of pre-made themes is that they present very limited options in terms of structure and customization. A professional website should be geared towards the individual needs of a business as well as end user optimization. Pre-existing themes incorporate generic formatting as a simplified blanket method to web development vs. building custom code that caters to one company. A web developer can tailor a theme to reflect a business’ individual mission by implementing customized features including but not limited to:
• FAQ Pages
• Contact Forms
• Job or Real Estate Listings
• Calendar Systems
• Coupons or Specials
• Restaurant Menus
A customized theme is typically much more organized and user-friendly than a pre-made theme. This is because a developer has the ability to create custom code while avoiding extraneous features that the company and users have no need for. Optimizing end user experience is imperative; customers should be able to easily navigate, understand and gather information from a website. A client-friendly website increases customer satisfaction and prospective sales. A cleaner buildout also makes it easier for a business to edit online content without having to sift through unnecessary data.
One huge benefit to utilizing custom plug-ins is improved security; most website hacks experienced by WordPress users are a result of outdated plug-ins. Generic plug-ins are more susceptible to security threats because hackers are already familiar with their structure and can therefore infiltrate them more easily. Customized plug-ins are not widely used and therefore not recognizable to hackers, drastically lowering the chances of a security breach. Additionally, pre-existing themes do not account for plug-in updates. Plug-in developers are constantly releasing updates to remediate security vulnerabilities with previous versions. Without those updates, a website is at a much higher risk of being hacked by an outside threat. A developer knows how to manage plug-in coding to avoid breaking updates whereas a random site manager is likely to mishandle data and expose a website to security hazards.
Quality Over Convenience Think of this decision in terms of choosing who to hire to build your new house. This is where you’re going to live and entertain guests for years to come. You don’t want a single general construction worker managing the entire buildout. You want specialists trained in home construction and capable of working with you to customize everything to fit your individual needs.
A construction worker is familiar with the basic guidelines of architecture and can stand up a generic square building with running water, but nobody wants to live there and it’s not going to turn a profit. Hiring specialists is more expensive and time-consuming, but the end result is a beautiful customized home that better serves you and your guests. The same concept applies to hiring a web developer to custom build your WordPress site; the extra work and expenses ultimately lead to a much higher quality of product.