Custom or Template WordPress Theme – Which is Better for Internet Marketing?

A question that arises in every business is the type of theme they should choose. WordPress is currently used by around 43% of all the websites on the internet. However, that doesn’t mean that choosing the right theme is an easy choice. It highly depends on your internet marketing goals, as both custom and templated themes have their pros and cons. There are a whole host of template themes available, as well as flexibility in choosing the type of custom theme you want. Choosing the right theme will have a massive impact on your brand and overall business. 

Custom WordPress theme development involves building the theme entirely from scratch, giving your brand a completely unique impression and feel that can’t be found elsewhere. Although bespoke themes are more costly initially, they’re worth the cost if you’re heavily considering achieving your long-term internet marketing goals.

Templated WordPress theme development uses pre-made structures that provide the overall layout and look of the site. Templates contain HTML and CSS files that make up various aspects of the site, including:

  • The main body
  •  Header
  •  Footer
  • Sidebar
  • Comments

In terms of free options, around 9000 themes exist. Premium themes are also available, which have their own set of advantages. Some of which include greater customisation and more responsive design. Additionally, premium themes are far less commonly used than free themes, providing an element of uniqueness. That isn’t to say that it makes them completely unique as a bespoke theme would, but premium themes are still a way of standing out from the crowd to a certain extent.

Let’s have a closer look at the benefits and downsides of both custom and template themes for internet marketing:

Advantages of Custom WordPress Themes

Despite the higher initial cost, there are a number of advantages to using a custom WordPress theme. The main benefit is that your site will be designed exactly as you envision it, without any limitations of templated design. Branding is something we strongly believe in at By The Scruff, and a custom WordPress theme allows you to achieve exactly that. 

Typically, we build bespoke themes from scratch to establish a distinctive brand that your users will remember. This will help bring you closer to your internet marketing goals, such as increased traffic.

Using template designs frequently results in plugin difficulties, which might cause website speed concerns. We avoid adding any plugins that aren’t necessary, meaning that the custom theme is more likely to run smoothly in comparison to template themes. 

One necessary plugin that we add is the Advanced Custom Fields plugin, which allows for easier management of content. As a result, you’ll be able to add and display information on content within your WordPress site without a headache.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a term that everyone with some sort of internet marketing goal has heard of. We all know what it is, but optimising your site for SEO is easier said than done. SEO allows your site to rank in search engines, and increases your site’s overall visibility. Custom themes are more SEO optimised in comparison to templated themes.

In addition, having complete control over the structure of your website enables you to modify every component. Consequently, your likelihood of being indexed and appearing in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) will grow. There’s a plethora of ways to increase your reach through internet marketing, but SEO still remains to be one of the most powerful.

Disadvantages of Custom WordPress Themes

Even though we’ve looked at some major advantages that custom WordPress themes bring to the table, there’s always a downside to everything. The clear downside is that the initial investment is more costly. Coupled with the reality that custom themes take much longer to build (usually months), it can be a difficult decision to make. The process of designing a custom theme can be time-consuming, and requires collaboration from various fields of expertise.

Although we usually create custom WordPress themes from scratch, we use Elementor sometimes to provide a slightly cheaper alternative to building from the ground up. This provides flexibility in custom theme design, as the theme can be designed much more quickly and at a lower price.

In addition, Elementor still provides complete control of your site, and allows you to manage it with ease. Updates are implemented immediately with Elementor. With a custom theme, updates may need to be done manually, which can take longer.

Advantages of Template WordPress Themes

Templated WordPress themes also have a number of advantages. The clear benefit of templated themes is how quickly you can get your site up and running. The entire process of design and build is eliminated this way, whilst still having a huge library of templates to choose from.  Premium template themes cost around $59 on average. There is an ever-growing library of premium themes available on the market. Thus, a templated theme is a great alternative that is quicker and cheaper than a custom theme.

Templated themes are also mobile-friendly as well, which also reduces the hassle of optimising your theme for mobile. Moreover, there’s still a lot of flexibility and options available with templates. Layouts, colours, fonts and more can all be adjusted with ease. No prior coding knowledge is required. The WordPress CMS makes it quite straightforward to make any adjustments you might have in mind.

Disadvantages of Custom WordPress Themes

Security can be a huge issue with certain themes. Some themes stop receiving regular updates, which means that they won’t be optimised for newer versions of WordPress. Specific plugins will also become incompatible as a result. Cyberattacks on your site are an increased risk, since templated themes may have coding gaps.

User retention is a crucial component in internet marketing. Using a templated theme could lead to slower page speeds, and cause your users to go elsewhere. It’s reported that one second of page slowdown on Amazon could lose $1.6 billion in sales. This highlights just how important page speeds are.

As previously mentioned, SEO is a big factor when it comes to internet marketing. Templated themes aren’t always SEO optimised, and it can be difficult to resolve this issue with the limitations of template theme customisation. Templated themes do allow for some degree of customisation, but they don’t provide complete control as a custom theme would.

Making the Final Decision 

Choosing a templated or custom WordPress theme highly depends on your current internet marketing goals – short-term and long-term.

If you’re just starting out and looking to get your site up and running, using a templated theme can be a great option. On the other hand, if you have long-term internet marketing goals such as increasing your brand authority and awareness, then a custom theme is right for you. Even though custom themes take longer to build and have a higher initial cost, the payoff in the long run is definitely worth the investment.

Custom themes are also flexible in that we’re able to build a theme for you from scratch or using Elementor. Elementor serves as a great alternative to custom themes built from the ground up whilst still providing a high degree of flexibility.

At By The Scruff, we’re a digital agency based in London that has worked with various businesses such as Mindup, MCS and Mid Group to help design their websites to suit their needs. Choosing the exact type of custom template can be a difficult decision, and depends entirely on your needs. 

Contact us or book a free 15-minute consultation to have a discussion on which theme would be best suited for your internet marketing goals – we’d be happy to help.