If you're trying to decide between a template or bespoke website, then grab yourself a cup of coffee and take your time digesting this article! Online marketing decisions can be costly if you choose the wrong solution for your business, so its best to be are armed with as much information as possible to avoid that.

Over recent years it has become straightforward enough to set up a WordPress site, purchase a theme and “hey, presto!”, you have yourself a website. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this approach in some cases – and indeed there are some great themes out there that might fit the bill for your own business.

What is important to know, is the difference between the 2 and the pros and cons.

What is a theme / template based website?

A theme / template website (I personally use the term theme) is one that has already been designed and is usually sold for a reasonably low price (although there are free ones out there too). The template will be designed in a certain style that incorporates pre-determined elements such as layout, colours, graphics and typography, and might include certain functionality features too such as forms, sliders and galleries.

What is good about themes?

Price. You can get a website set up with a theme for less than £50 if you have the technical know-how to install WordPress and upload a theme.

Speed. You can be up and running within hours.

Quickly validating your product / service. Using a quick theme-based site is great way to validate your requirement for a website before committing time and money to a bespoke site.

And what is bad about themes?

Its a template, meaning anyone can buy that same template and create an almost identical site to your own.

The biggest problem is that changes outside of the template can be costly and time intensive.

Imagine going to a shop, you buy a shirt without trying it on – once home you remove the tags and THEN realise it doesn't fit properly. You do 1 of 2 things – you wear your poorly fitted item and never feel 100% happy, or you take it to a haberdasher for alterations. The alterations to get that perfect fit, can actually cost more than the original item itself. The same applies with alterations to themes.

You can never quite guarantee how expensive / time intensive the changes can be because the code has been written in such a way you can't change it easily. If there's a theme out there that is perfectly suited to your business and would require no changes then great, but if its perfect for your business then what are the chances its also perfect for another business?

Take this for example:

This is a beautiful theme for a hair salon, notice the red circle. 897 sales… that's 897 businesses that had or may still have this theme for their website. How will you stand out amongst your competitors websites if you have the same one?



How can I tell whether a website designer uses themes or creates bespoke websites?

Ask them before you sign up! Any online business professional is required to disclose, if asked by you, whether they will use a theme. Sadly there are many “professionals” out there who will sell you a theme as a bespoke site – this is appallingly bad practice and a shared concern in the industry amongst professionals. I have seen too many business owners sold a theme site when they think they are getting a bespoke design, and don't realise until money has exchanged hands.

My budget is low, I can't afford a bespoke website – is a theme still ok?

ABSOLUTELY! I'm not saying that you shouldn't use a theme, what I am saying is go into the website project armed with your new knowledge on themes.

My approach and why I don't use themes.

I don't like to be constrained by design or technology – therefore I create design and code from scratch so that I have more freedom to create something unique, and that is tailored to the business I am working with.



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