On one hand, you can purchase a WordPress theme for the lint in your pocket (in other words, for free) and spend $50 bucks on a theme that offers you decent functionality.

On the other hand, you can hire a WordPress developer who will customize your site to your unique needs and wants, but the catch? It’s often challenging to find the right developer for the right price.

Confused? Overwhelmed? Ready for a nap?

The good news is you’re here, and we’re going to sort this out together. Below, let’s discuss both the pros and cons of each. By the end of this post, you should have a better understanding of whether to go with a generic WordPress template or hire a professional to create one to your specifications.

[Tweet "a tailor-made solution is often best, but there are times when a pre-made theme makes sense."]

Now, to address the pink elephant in the room: Sure, I’m a web developer and I think a tailor-made solution is often the best choice, but there are times when a pre-made theme makes sense for you or your business. So, I solemnly swear to give an even treatment of the topic. Let’s get started.

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Here’s When You Should Choose a Pre-made WordPress Theme

Are you just starting out?

When you’re just starting out, the last thing you want to do is shell out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for a website. You’re not sure how well your business will do in its first year and it feels risky to spend a lot of money on a website.

In this case, it makes a lot of sense to go the economical route. You need something quick, fast and ready to go.

Is money a little tight?

You can’t afford fine dining on a ramen noodle budget. Believe me, I get it. When you’re on a steep budget, there’s nothing more attractive than a free WordPress theme. You can find a decent WordPress theme for cheap, I mean free. But remember that you get what you pay for, and it definitely won’t be as pretty or as functional as you may desire.

Are you comfortable installing and updating your theme?

WordPress definitely has a learning curve. If you’re just starting out, you may not know what the heck you’re doing. It can be overwhelming. However, you may just stumble upon a WordPress theme that has wonderful step-by-step tutorials of how to install and/or update a theme. If you feel confident in your ability to navigate the WordPress back-end, this option may be a good fit for you.

Keep in mind that installing can be a real headache, even for seasoned professionals. Ever come across an error in WordPress and not sure why? I’m pretty sure there’s a horror story or two that begin with someone trying to install a WordPress theme. Some themes are just plain buggy and there’s nothing you can do about it but live with it or buy another one.

Not sure what you want?

This one is for the fickle among us. Sometimes, you just don’t know what type of site design you like the best. So, you prefer to cycle through multiple cheap (or free) options to find the one that feels right. Then, you can work closely with a developer to tweak it to your unique fit.

Need something yesterday?

A bespoke website takes time to create. When you need something immediately (or within 48 hours), your best bet is a pre-made theme. This is a temporary measure that you can use while waiting for your final site to be designed.

Here’s When You Should Choose a Tailor-Made WordPress Theme

Can’t find the perfect theme for your needs?

You know what you want, but you can’t find it in the marketplace. You’ve looked everywhere but can’t find the perfect theme that embodies everything you want in a website.

More times than not, you’ll buy a WordPress theme that looks great in the demo but doesn’t look anything like that once you populate it with your unique content. You feel disappointed, frustrated and duped.

Want to Stand Out and Be Unique?

You can customize your pre-made WordPress theme but, if you’re not a designer, you’re simply not a designer. Your time is better spent doing what you love, not worrying about color schemes and font types.

It can take a long time to achieve the look you’re going for, and even then, it may feel “off”.

One alternative is to upload it the way it is and not tinker with it too much, however you run the risk of it looking like someone else’s site, and that’s never fun.

Image Courtesy of The Meta Picture

Need on-going support for your website?

After your WordPress site is up and running, you may just want to hire a developer to make small (or major) adjustments to your site. It’s easier for a developer to make changes when he or she starts from clean, organized code.

Is speed important to you?

One of the hidden costs of going with a pre-made WordPress theme is the loss of speed.

As I mentioned in this post, loading speed is crucial to user experience. Your website’s loading speed is the visitor’s very first interaction with your brand, and if your website doesn’t load fast enough (we’re talking within three seconds), you’ll lose almost 50% of your visitors.

So, what does this have to do with pre-made WordPress themes?

When a developer makes a generic WordPress theme to sell in a general market, the theme must offer a wide range of functionality. The theme developers do this in an effort to appeal to a wider pool of buyers.

That’s good for them, but not so good for you. Chances are, you don’t need all of those functions on your website, and by having those extra functions coded into your site, it’s robbing you of speed.

It’s like carrying extra baggage in the website coding. So, instead of being lean and tailored to your unique needs, the code is bloated and sluggish because it contains functions that you don’t even need and will never use.

The Best of Both Worlds

Do you have a design in mind that you love but doesn’t quite fit for your needs? Perhaps you want to add something extra to your purchased theme. As I mentioned earlier, a premade WordPress theme may be the best answer for you right now. There’s no need to feel boxed in by your budget. If you need a developer to create more functionality for you, let’s talk.

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