I’ve been asked this question numerous times so I figured I would go ahead and give my two cents on the topic and create a list of pros and cons for both.
I’ve been working with WordPress for about five years now and absolutely love it.
I use it on pretty much every client website I build because of how easy it is to understand and teach. Depending on what your goals are and what your budget is really determines which route you should go.
What is The Difference?
A WordPress theme that’s pre-built is something you buy from a marketplace like ThemeForest. These are intended to be sold again and again in order to meet basic business needs. Custom WordPress creation is the process of wire-framing, designing, and creating a custom website that best fits your business needs.
WordPress themes pre-built-Pros:
1) Saving some money.
This could be a perfect choice for a small business just trying to get a basic web site up.
On ThemeForest, you can buy pre-built themes from $40 – $65 anywhere.
Keep in mind that each of these topics is very different and has its own caveats and curves to understand. After you’ve purchased the theme, you’ll most likely also want to move certain elements around and modify it to suit your needs, which could take some time to learn because each one is proprietary and entirely different.
2) Save some time.
If your aim is to get something up quickly and you’re comfortable throwing something on the fly together then that could be a good choice for you. Because you are using pre-built pages and components, the amount of preparation that goes into a theme is significantly reduced. In about 2-3 weeks you should get a theme up and running.
3) You have several possibilities.
There are 6,884 themes available for sale on ThemeForest alone (at the time of this post). That’s a lot to choose from and for just about every industry there are definitely some quality themes there. This gives you a great starting point for your business, and may even help inspire you!
Pre-built themes for WordPress-Cons:
1) Lots of pointless coding.
Typically, the theme writers seek to jam-pack every single element that they can into their theme to seek to meet the needs of as many people as possible. That is a fantastic selling point but you are most likely not going to use anything they have that leaves a lot of unneeded code / features. This can cause many unwanted symptoms on your site which include vulnerabilities to security and impact site speed.
2) Pretty decent price.
You just never know what you’re getting when you buy a book, some writers are better than others, so it’s important to know who you’re buying from and see how much if you have a question they ‘re going to be able to help you.
It is also best to check feedback when selecting a theme and the amount of sales it has to decide if it is a good option for your company.
3) Potentially not future proof.
When you purchase a theme it comes with lots of proprietary code created by the theme author. They usually come packed with plugins and options unique to theme. You are now locked into their codebase, with the possibility that they will not upgrade your new website when a new WordPress version is released.
Creation of custom WordPress-Pros:
1) You are in complete charge of that.
A good developer will make sure you have full control of your website and will be able to edit content without any assistance whenever you wish. WordPress has something called Custom Post Types that lets developers create simple interfaces with which our customers can use and edit their content and potentially increase their website sales.
2) Designed to suit your business.
Every business is different and has its own unique mark, so your website should. You will have a unique website designed to suit your business where you can prepare every step of the way.
It is really important to make sure that your website targets your demographic in the most efficient way possible when you are trying to develop a company.
3) Ready for any further custom enhancements.
A custom designed theme will be constructed to spec and allow use of as few plug-ins as possible which increases your webpage loading speed. The less plugins that your website is dependent on, the better.
When upgrading WordPress Core and running a new version of your website the rest of your website needs to be compatible so that everything runs smoothly. Hiring a developer after it’s built is also much easier to come in behind someone versus trying to find your way around a theme.
Creation of custom WordPress-Cons:
It certainly takes longer to prepare, design, create and launch your website from scratch while you’re designing it. The cycle of experimentation and the preparation of how to set out all the elements in a way your audience understands is crucial to your business.
For a custom website the average timeline is about 2-3 months.
The cost goes up because it is so time-intensive. A lot of people don’t understand the process of creating a website so I’m going to share mine:
A custom website will cost from $1,500-$ 5,000 anywhere.
I think there’s a use case for both choices and decides which route you can take depending on your stage of business.
Pre-built themes would be easier to build and can be made quicker but at the end of the day, custom WordPress themes will be a better overall product.
If you’re willing to invest in your online presence and expect to generate better leads and conversions form your website.