Custom Website Design vs Using a Theme


One of the things you will need to decide when choosing a website developer/designer is whether you go for custom website design or use a theme. Often, however, you don’t even know you are taking this decision. This is because many website designers in Auckland and elsewhere in NZ use themes and don’t even offer custom website design.

It is important you understand the difference, though, so you can take an informed decision.


Not All Website Design is the Same

There are three main ways to develop a website:

  1. Design and code the website from scratch
  2. Use an established website “engine” and create a fully customized design
  3. Use an established website “engine” with an off-the-shelf theme

Unless you are building an exceptionally large or complex website, the first option is not recommended. Most websites on the internet use either option two or three because it saves time and money, i.e. there is no point recreating functionality when it is already available in a tried, tested, and trusted website “engine”.

The most popular website “engine” is WordPress, although there are other options. WordPress is so popular, though, because it is powerful, flexible, and fully customizable. In addition, there is a very large community of WordPress users and developers which helps to improve its functionality and performance.

Now we come to the difference between option two and three above. Both use an “engine” like WordPress with the difference being the visual appearance, user experience, and structure of the website.


The Downsides of Themes

You can get this visual appearance, user experience, and structure all packaged in a theme. There are thousands of themes available, including both free and premium options. This is usually the cheapest way to get a new website developed, although there are downsides:

  • Websites developed with the same theme look very similar. In other words, your website will not look unique if it uses a theme.
  • Themes restrict everything from the look you want to achieve the functionality your website has. These restrictions make the theme more stable and reliable, but the compromises you must make as a result can be frustrating.

So, while building a website using a theme is cheaper than creating a customized design, going bespoke is usually the best option.


Benefits of Custom Website Design

  • You’ll get the precise look you want – a good website developer can make your WordPress website look however you want it to. You can’t do this when you use a theme.
  • The website will deliver a better user experience – most themes are built to appeal to the widest possible audience. To make the user experience on your website as good as possible, however, you need to tailor it to your users. This applies to everything from the location of navigation to the navigational structure to the flow of content and more.
  • You can add the functionality you need – it is also easier to add specific functionality to a custom designed website. In addition, you can make existing functionality work exactly the way you want it to.
  • Your website will be unique – the importance of having a completely unique website cannot be understated. The best way to achieve this is through custom website design.

So, before you decide on a website developer for your website, make sure you consider whether to use a theme or a fully customized design. For us at The Web Guys, custom website design is always our preference.