One of the most important aspects of starting any website is deciding on the design. WordPress has become one of the most popular blogging platforms because it offers so many free features that can help create a professional-looking website in just a few clicks. These free items include thousands of templates, or themes, to help even complete beginners design a great-looking website in a matter of minutes.
However, some businesses are interested in getting a custom design for their WordPress site because they feel branding is important, such as color scheme and logo, or they wish to add functionality to their site.
There are pros and cons to using templates versus getting a custom design. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
The Pros of Template
The main advantage of using a WordPress template for your site is that it’s quick and easy. You can literally launch your site in a matter of minutes provided you’ve organized the content in advance, know what you want your site to look like, and are quick at copying and pasting.
Many of the templates are very attractive and offer a range of functionality in the form of widgets – that is, small mini-programs like calendars, tag clouds and more.
You can find templates by clicking Templates -> Add New. Use the filters, such as Custom Header or 2-column navigation, to sort through the many free choices available. Some are more customizable than others, so if color and so on are important to you, set those filters. Install, make active, and you should be done.
The Cons of Templates
The disadvantage of using WordPress templates is that you are locked into the design. It can also take ages to find a good design even with the filters set. There might be a feature or two you would like to tweak. However, unless you have any cascading style sheet (CSS) coding skills, it can be rather difficult to make any changes to the existing design.
In addition, some of the designs are very clunky and do not load fast. This causes problems with Google, who reward fast loading sites versus slow.
Once you install it and start adding content, that is the time you might spot things that were not obvious problems at the time you first checked out the template, forcing you to start your search all over again.
The Pros of Custom Design
Custom design is just that – a design that will have the look and all of the features that you wish to have at your website/blog.
The Cons of Custom Design
The most obvious con is that it will cost money and also take time compared to a pre-made template. Your vision and the designer’s might differ. You might not be able to tell if the designer is really doing the work himself/herself and is any good, or if they are just using the base code of a (not very good) free template and just adding a few minor tweaks.
Hints on Getting the Best Value for Money
Before choosing any free template, make a wish list of what you really want in a template. For example, do you want right-hand navigation, two columns, and a particular color scheme?
Visit some of your favorite blogs and look down at the bottom. It should say “designed in WordPress” and will often mention the template, such as Nucleus. Search for the templates you like best to see if they are free.
Or, click the contact information to see where it was purchased. If it is a paid template, see if they also offer custom design to make any minor tweaks to the template you might like.
Make a smart choice at the start; it will be tough to change it later because it might bother your visitors to make a switch. Launch your new blog with a great theme and see how impressed your visitors will be.