Why are website designers giving us simpler and more stress-free user experience?

If you’ve already had a scroll through our site, then you’ll know that we are WordPress website builders who love nothing better than coding and designing our way through the cold winter nights and building some pretty decent websites along the way.

Something that we often get asked from our clients is whether they should have a custom built or Premium theme-based WordPress site. So, we thought it was high time to explain the differences between the two options, and why a custom-built site is probably the right move 80% of the time.

Defining moments

Before we delve into the murky realms of website coding, let’s start with the basic differences between Premium and custom built WordPress themes.

Theme-based WordPress sites are basically a set of page templates that you can choose from and which form the visual skeleton of your website. Each theme has different visuals and layouts which create a specific website look and function.

The beauty of a theme-based option is that you can find a template that is already built, which you can then download, replace the images and rework the content to suit your own branding. The template themes are flexible and are open to slight modifications, you can also can add plug-ins to build-up a more layered website.

Custom-built WordPress sites are basically built completely from scratch and have no set template that you need to work around. A custom design is a one-off theme, that is specifically created for that individual or company.

Crucially, they can look like theme-based templates, but all the various parts of the custom website are integrated in one go, to work seamlessly together. Kind of like the difference between using a pre-made cake mix or just getting the ingredients yourself and making your own Victoria sponge – working on the base always makes the cake taste better.

Dream me a dream

Ask a website designer what their dream question from any client is and it’d probably be ‘can I have a custom website build?’.

Why? Firstly, with a custom build we are free to generate a website from scratch that is unique and fully adapted to the client.  The sky is the limit with custom design. The opposite can be said with Premium, because you are limited to the configurated structures set up for the template. A bit like consigning yourself to playing in a box garden when you know there’s a whole field over the hedge.

A premium theme-based site can also turn into a coder’s worst nightmare, especially when things get a bit complicated. Although it can be simple to create a Premium theme-based site, any advanced site modifications or plug-ins that automatically update can run the risk of crashing your site or a producing a bug which will, at the very least, affect your websites functionality.

Premium theme-based sites typically have many layers of design and much more code. So when something goes wrong with a theme-based template it can feel like crawling through a coding jungle or trying to find a pebble in a desert. Sifting through streams of coding chains to find out why a site is bugging and then repairing the problem can often take longer than just custom building an entire site from scratch.

Template themed sites can also be much slower to load and have reduced page quality because of the additional coding structures and the way they are built. The speed at which your site loads has a detrimental effect for user experience and is even penalised by Google Search Ranking bots.

Tick Tock

Premium theme-based sites have their uses and are a great option for people who:

  • want a very simple site
  • have a tight budget or deadline
  • find a theme that is perfect for their website goals
  • want a theme that has built-in features such as animation (which take a long time to code)
  • are not planning to modify or evolve their site

Quite a few people also think that building a custom-built theme takes more time and money than a Premium theme. It’s true that when you first set up a Premium theme-based WordPress website it can be a lot quicker and cheaper, and will have your website singing and dancing on Google in no time.

But where this logic falls down is with the maintenance and general upkeep of your site. If you end up having a coding problem or want to turn your site into something more complex (i.e. turning it into an e-commerce platform or an interactive forum) it can often be more expensive and time costly to sort out than building a custom site in the first place.

In the end, the decision boils down to knowing what you want from your site and what you are prepared to invest. Once you’ve seen the light, you can then decide whether you need a quick and simple fix via the Premium route, or an integrated and long-lasting solution which would point you to door number 2, the custom WordPress build.

PSST! Did we mention our boundless love for all thing WordPress? If you want to have a chat about how we can help you sift through noise and build a sleek and functional website, we are a short phone call away or can be found pouring over our Apple Macs at Ziferblat Edge Street.