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February 15, 2021
What Does a Custom WordPress Designer Do Differently?
Articles Web Design Web Development

Has your business decided to invest (or re-invest) in a website? Today, most websites are developed with a content management system (CMS), which allows a company to easily update and modify their website in a user-friendly interface. By far, the most popular CMS award goes to WordPress, with an estimated 35% of the internet being powered by it. Websites built using WordPress can be thrown up in a flash with basic themes and minimal customization, or thoughtfully custom designed from a blank canvas to meet a business’ unique needs and goals.

In this article, we’ll explain:
A) What a custom WordPress designer does, and
B) The differences between website templates and custom WordPress themes.

We hope this will help give you a better idea of which option would best fit your business needs and means!

What are “Templates” and How is a “Custom Theme” Different?

Every WordPress website uses a theme to set the style of the website – colours, fonts, layout, and more.

  • WordPress website templates are pre-made themes that have “built-in options” to make limited customizations to things such as images, colours and layout sections. There are many free options and even more paid options available online, ready to be downloaded and installed.
  • Custom WordPress Themes are designed and built from the ground up for your business’ unique needs. For example, if you’re a vendor that wants a user to express interest in your products within the first 2 or 3 clicks upon landing on your website, with custom builds, your messaging, design and development can be strategically tailored to achieve this. Custom WordPress Themes involve a thorough discovery phase, completely custom design, and a hand-coded development process.

Should I Just Use a WordPress Template?

On paper, website templates may seem like an attractive option. The benefits include:

  • Most affordably priced – particularly if you are a DIYer. If not, there are many people who will offer help to get a basic template up for a pretty reasonable fee.
  • Quick to get up and running. Just choose your theme, purchase a domain and hosting, and with some technical magic, you’ll have a website up and running and ready for all of your sales copy! However, it’s important to note that while they’re quick to set-up, website templates have a short lifespan compared to custom builds. This is because, unlike website templates, custom websites are built with the most up-to-date code that can be updated with your CMS.

However, if your business is looking to invest in a website that respects your brand and is tightly focused on user experience and conversion, website templates are not the best long-term solution to fulfill your business needs. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Your website looks like everyone else’s. The most popular website templates are downloaded by thousands of users, so chances are your website will look like a clone of several others.
  • You’re limited on functionality and customization. With website templates, you’re stuck within the parameters of the templates. This means you cannot choose the functionality you want in the way you want it to work. Moreover, your website may also get bogged down with additional features and functions from the template that your business does not want or need.
  • You’re stuck with what you have. Website templates do not have the flexibility to grow with you. As your business evolves, you might need to make significant changes to the design, or add new features to improve the functionality down the road. Unlike custom websites, you cannot simply add new features to a website template. Instead, you will most likely have to start your website over again from scratch.

What’s Included in a Custom WordPress Theme?

Custom WordPress theme design allows you to get precise about exactly how you want your website to look and function. A thoughtfully designed website creates brand value, drives results and most importantly, is rooted in research. Before we begin custom designing and developing a website for a client at Array, we ask:

  1. What is the primary goal of the website?
  2. What is the competition and what differentiates you?
  3. What is the primary message of the services and/or products?
  4. Who are the target demographic and why?

Based on discovery, wireframes and design proofs are created, and eventually those designs are turned into custom code. For a more thorough look at our web design process, check out our article “Our 11 Step Process to Building a Website.”

When you receive a custom designed and developed website from a custom WordPress design team, your company will receive benefits such as:

  • No limits on design and functionality. If you can imagine it, our team of WordPress developers and designers can do it.
  • You work with a team of experts to determine how you want your website to look and function. We take the time to understand your goals and produce a tailor-made website that focuses on the design, features and functionalities that matter for your business.
  • Your website is SEO optimized. When you receive a custom website from Array, you also benefit from the technical knowledge of our SEO experts that make sure your website is optimized for search engines using the latest in SEO techniques.

How Do You Find A Good WordPress Developer?

Before you choose a web design agency, be sure you understand whether that web developer or firm plans to use a website template or to build your site from the ground up. Unfortunately, not all web developers are transparent on their process and may try to sell a template as custom work. If you’re unsure, explicitly ask if they plan to use a template or custom build your website.

If any web development agency offers to create a website for you without any research process involved whatsoever – be wary. Ask how they plan to integrate search engine optimization as well as what the projected user flow on the website will be. Evaluate the price they are asking for work based on their ability to answer questions such as these, as well as their existing portfolio of successful projects.

Are You More Curious About Custom Design?

We’d be happy to tell you more about our custom web design process and how we can custom build a website for you that addresses your pain points and helps you achieve your business goals. When you are ready, book a complimentary discovery & consultation, and we’d love to propose a marketing plan that’s tailored just for you!