Consider these two jackets. The first you find in a department store. The tag says it’s your size, it’s inexpensive, and it’s available right here and now. It looks nice, but the sleeves are too short, the shoulders pinch, and… wait, are the buttons already fraying? It’s brand new!
The second is custom-made especially for you. Using the styles and materials you’ve chosen, the tailor takes your measurements and sews together a jacket that fits you perfectly. Quality craftsmanship may not be cheap or instant, but when you wear the final product it looks and feels great on you.
When it comes to your website, the same concept applies; but it’s more than your style or comfort at stake. As we’ve discussed before, a web presence is essential for most businesses (especially new ones!) and a website is the foundation of that presence.
so let’s compare…
Not all websites are created equal, but no one ever said they had to be. Each one is built for a different purpose with a different set of functional and stylistic needs. In our professional opinion, one of the best tools for creating any of these sites is WordPress.
You can access the powerful WordPress site-building platform through WordPress.com or WordPress.org. However, WordPress.com doesn’t give you the option to build your own website from scratch; you’re limited to the free and premium themes available through WordPress. Only by using WordPress.org can you both create a custom site using its intuitive toolset and access the library of themes. Our last article explains the differences between these two sites in greater detail.
Simply put, by selecting a WordPress theme, you’re choosing how your website will look and function. It sets the layout of your pages, the colors and fonts you’ll find on them, and the way visitors will navigate through them.
Here’s what themes do well: they’re inexpensive, easy to use, and quick to build. There are a variety of free themes available for thrifty site builders, each geared toward a different kind of website. Most premium themes won’t blow your budget either. Setting up themes requires little in the way of web design skills. Can you use a mouse? Great! You can set up a WordPress theme.
These benefits have a definite flip side: themes aren’t flexible. While they allow some level of customization, their frameworks aren’t built to handle big changes. They can accommodate certain plugins, but if the one you need isn’t compatible, you’re out of luck. Some SEO solutions are usually provided, but themes often need a major overhaul to be truly SEO-friendly.
So for whom is a pre-built theme best suited? Anyone who needs a basic website that still looks sharp. Themes are great options for portfolio sites and blogs, for instance, as they can house content on a hassle-free, low-maintenance space.
While most WordPress themes are built to house a specific kind of website, a custom site is only built for one: yours! A custom-made website is built from the ground up to fit your needs, just like the tailored jacket that fits perfectly. Designing a site from scratch is almost always the best option for businesses because as your company grows, your custom site will be flexible and scalable to evolve alongside it.
Unless you have the necessary web design skills, it’s best to hire an expert to build your site for you (in fact, that’s what we do here at Punch Bug). Web designers aren’t cheap, but they bring considerable benefits to the table. They’ll implement SEO and web design best practices so your site is functional, searchable, and looks great too.
Custom sites take longer to create, but the final product will be unique and have a longer lifespan than a WordPress theme. When you contract a developer to build a site for you, you’ll get full support from the outset. They can fix any bugs that come up and continue to build your site to fit your business growth. Not all WordPress themes come with developer support, and it’s often quite limited.
Custom websites and pre-built themes both exist because they’re right for different audiences. If you’re a business that wants to start an online store, you’ll have different needs than an individual looking for a small website. The takeaway is this: pre-built is easy and accessible, but you’ll find more quality and flexibility in a custom site.