Theme or Custom WordPress WebsiteOnline business owners want the most value for their spend, especially when investing in their greatest asset, their website. When developing the budget and requirements for a website redesign, what options should you take into consideration? Those in the market for a new design for their online business presence will already be aware that there are two popular web design categories: theme and custom. In this blog we’ll explore the advantages and drawbacks for each as a blueprint that will facilitate the best business decision for maximum ROI.

First, let’s define the two. Today most professional web designs utilize an open-source platform with a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress. A CMS enables quick and easy updates, such as text and image changes within a static format, without the need for technical support. A Custom WordPress website can be designed from scratch to fulfill a company’s requirements and to reflect its unique brand. Theme WordPress sites use a pre-established design format that can be developed more quickly than a custom site, and personalized to some extent.

Theme Site Advantages

Ideal for: small to mid-sized businesses.


  • Less expensive than custom websites. With a theme site, most of the coding will be in place. A developer will still be required to implement the content and to customize within the chosen theme’s limitations.
  • Offers a much faster timeline than custom websites. Since the framework is already complete, most theme sites launch within one or two months.
  • Many theme sites offer regular updates, great support, and a growing community of user/developers who can assist (through forums) with customizations, troubleshooting, etc. This way a theme site can easily be considered “future proof” and not become obsolete.
  • The design and functionality of theme sites is continually evolving. These are generally well-designed, offer more functionality than ever before, and allow for greater scalability.

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  • Design, Navigation and Functionality Limitations: Theme structure will be finite, although a skilled developer can modify a theme site to some degree. Beyond that, a custom site would prove a better option.
  • Maintenance: Theme sites, like custom websites, require routine updates. The good news is that most theme sites designed in the past couple of years are responsive to meet the needs of mobile users. Be sure to ask your the right questions when choosing a web development company. Ask them to provide the reviews and history of the themes they are offering before making a final decision based on design alone.


  • Base your theme site decision on functionality as well as its design for maximum flexibility.

Custom Site Advantages

Ideal for: Mid-to larger businesses & businesses who want a unique design that stands out from others.


  • Set yourself apart from your competition: Customized sites are flexible, that means they can be scaled as an online enterprise grows. Significant changes in both design and functionality are possible with a custom website. There are few, if any, limitations. Design options, for example, are limitless.
  • Easy updates. Custom-builts readily accept their platform (i.e. WordPress) updates. Any conflicts due to platform changes can easily be diagnosed and quickly resolved by developers.
  • Security: A custom website offers greater security from online hackers as well as accommodate frequent security updates and safeguards.

Cons: Requirements

  • Custom sites do not have major drawbacks as they can be designed and coded to suit most business requirements. Be aware that this comes at a cost in excess of the expense to launch a new theme site, but remember that the custom site will be tailored to meet specific business needs.
  • Extended Timeline: Unlike theme sites, custom sites do not download with the framework already in place. A team that includes skilled web developers and/or programmers will be required to fulfill all functional and design requirements.

When making the important decision as to which vehicle is best suited to further an online business, it’s best to choose a site design option that can be scaled to grow along with your business. A theme site may not have the full-functionality of a custom CMS site, no matter how many widgets are incorporated, but may be an ideal solution for a many enterprises. Our best advice is not make a decision based on current online business requirements, but on those projected within the next 3-5 years. If you have questions, or need to weigh your options, Active Web Group’s design professionals will gladly offer their advice. For a confidential discussion, give them a call at (800) 978-3417 today!