Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time. —Voltaire Photography by: Clem Onojeghuo

Why You Need A Custom Website – Or Not

The question people always ask us is: “What is the difference between a custom HTML 5 WordPress theme and customizing a commercial WordPress theme?” There are advantages and disadvantages with both of course. Read below to see which theme is right for you.

Custom themes load faster

The biggest advantage of a custom theme is that it can load extremely fast. This is because it is built like a race car. It has only the features and plugins you need to use and nothing else.

This is why it’s great for your SECOND website as if you are still figuring out what features you want or the best way to sell your product or service you may benefit from a more diverse set of options.

Commercial themes are less expensive

Commercial themes come with a prebuilt set of tools that allow a developer to quickly configure the fonts, colors, layouts, and design elements such as post types, blog grids, hovers, lists, pricing tables and many other things that are very time intensive to program from scratch. And time is money so there is no better way to build a great looking website quickly and inexpensively.

Custom themes can handle large amounts of traffic

By reducing the number of features on a website to the absolute minimum, we also reduce the number of AJAX calls. Commercial themes have what we call “bloat” this means there are unused features that are still loaded every time someone visits your website.  So if you need to serve millions of visitors a day, every AJAX call costs money as AWS and other cloud hosting services charge by bandwidth used. A lot of times these are un-cachable requests. High usage of these files sometimes occurs during traffic spikes, CPU load, and can bring your site to a crawl. It’s almost like you are launching a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against yourself! Cutting the number of AJAX calls can save thousands of dollars if you have lots of traffic.

Commercial themes are more flexible

The biggest advantage of a commercial theme, especially one with a page builder is you can change them quickly and on the fly. This is especially useful when you are doing A/B testing on a limited budget and accelerated timeline.

With a commercial theme, when you want to test out new ideas, you can easily clone any page on your website, move elements around, delete elements and change the design to test out new marketing strategies.

Custom themes look exactly like they were designed

Larger organizations usually have a staff of people managing the website. Designers laying out stories, editors uploading content, developers optimizing the code and marketing and SEO teams tracking analytics and performance.

Since a commercial theme has lots of extra features, it can be tempting to “play”.

I cannot even count the times we’ve gone back to visit a gorgeous website we’ve built and finding a horrible mess that our clients have made of it thinking that WordPress was a design platform rather than a content management system.

Or having clients complain that their site is broken or has slowed to a crawl only to find that they have installed a million unnecessary plugins.

Since a custom built website is built for one specific purpose it does not offer the opportunity to change the design, colors and functionality much so it is VERY hard to break or mess up. A great asset if you have a team of people using it with various levels of skill and training.

Commercial themes are easier to take care of

Nobody can know what the internet is going to do next. So many startups are trying to “disrupt” the industry that if you knew what we know, it’s surprising that the internet works at all. The web is in a constant state of breaking down and if you have a custom theme that breaks because of the latest and greatest thing that Google, Microsoft or Apple decide to do then it is your responsibility to fix it.

But if you use a well vetted commercial theme, then they will have a team of people constantly updating it so that it is in sync with what the rest of the internet is doing. This means that if something breaks, or a security breach is detected, literally with the push of a button you can be 100% up to date.

Of course things can still break, but if they fo the costs are usually minimal. Of course not all themes are created equal. If the theme developers that created the theme you chose go out of business, you might be in worse shape than if you paid to build a custom theme. So be sure to choose a theme with lots of good reviews, healthy sales, regular updates and developers who have been in business a LONG time.

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