Website Theme vs. Custom Development

by GruffyGoat Team written on
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Does a Theme or a Custom Website Make the Most Sense For Your Company?

The two most common approaches we use to build a website are:
1. Using a child theme or
2. Fully custom website development (this usually includes a design phase)
(There’s a bit of a spectrum here with hybrid options but for the sake of this conversation let’s assume either/or.) 

Note: just because one list below may be longer or shorter than the other, you should weigh each item appropriately for its importance to you!

Some quick context: a fully custom site means either we design or you provide designs for your website. Then we code the website fully from scratch. A theme, or child theme, means you choose from an existing structure that already has an established layout and possibly some unique design elements. When we build with a theme, we change out basic aesthetics like colors, fonts, and content to match your brand. Check out some basic pros and cons about each option and let me say now – both choices are great depending on your company’s needs and budget.

Our favorite Wordpress child-theme libraries are: 
Elegant Themes
Theme Forest
There are also themes for Shopify, HubSpot, and more!

Pros & Cons

Theme Pros:

  • Already established layouts
  • A library of sections, modules, and assets built-in
  • Easy to edit and add onto (depending on builder)
  • Easier for visual people to envision their content prior to building
  • Faster to develop
  • Less expensive (usually) – this can change dependent on add-ons like 3rd-party integrations
  • Less decision making
  • There are so many child themes out there to choose from!
  • Easier to DIY (depending on builder)

Theme Cons:

  • Limited to the existing theme layouts
  • What you see is what you get
  • Can sometimes look or feel like a “theme” and lack that custom experience

Custom Pros:

  • You are in control of the design and layouts (dependent on existing code, time, and budget)
  • You can think outside of the box with designs
  • Often easier to add on custom or 3rd party integrations
  • Websites are “lighter” and not weighed down by a bunch of code you don’t need

Custom Cons:

  • Can take longer especially if you are including design time
  • More expensive
  • Adding on later can be harder if there are not existing designs to accommodate new content (but that’s why you hire us)

It is important to understand why and how you are spending your money when investing in a new site. Ultimately, is the return on investment worth it? For many dental and other service companies, a theme site is perfect for your needs. But, if you’re a creative agency that wants to show off your mad design skills, then a custom design and build may pay off. Talk to our sales team about your needs – they can help point you in the right direction for your business!