Warning! Before we begin, we should probably admit that this post won’t cast the best light on website themes. As a designer and developer of bespoke websites, we get approached multiple times a day about whether we install and adapt themes for use on websites. Without being rude, in almost every scenario, we kindly decline an involvement in such practices. We’re not saying that website themes are the devil’s work, but they’re pretty close.

Just like website builders, website themes offer a number of plus points for those looking for a quick, generic representation of their brand on the web. For brands looking for something a little different, a more coherent, creative, business centric and customer focused representation of their company and what it can deliver, websites that have been tailor-made deliver much more success and give you the perfect tool to promote your brand, not fall in with the pack.

This blog post explores the true cost of a website theme. Not just the monetary element that goes along with heading to a website that has literally thousands of website themes and templates to choose from, and hitting install.

What’s the difference between website themes and custom builds?

We specialise in the development of easy to manage websites. Most of our sites are developed on a content management system (CMS) so our clients can easily and quickly update their platforms without support from a techie. There are clear differences between custom built websites that use CMS and a website theme or template you download from a store. With a custom build the entire website is built from scratch, with each and every element expertly crafted to suit a particular company’s needs and the wider brand. Whether you are a newbie to your industry or an established market leader, a custom built website is shaped in accordance with your needs and goals (both long and short term). Not all custom built sites are created equal that’s for sure. What one budget will achieve for one business, won’t necessarily attain the same outcome for another.

Website themes and templates sit at the opposite end of the scale. While the theme you pick and the price tag you pay will dictate much of its functionality, when compared to a custom built website, you will no doubt be limited. Custom sites are programmed to do exactly what you want them to do and can be flexible enough to grow with you. Website themes aren’t. What we would say when it comes to assessing the functionality and graphics capabilities of a theme is that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

If you’re on a budget, don’t restrict yourself with a theme

Custom builds don’t have to cost the earth. Whilst we offer excellent value for money, time comes at a cost. We often hear of web design companies offering ‘custom built’ websites for hundreds of pounds. If that low (low) fee isn’t attached to a longer contract where you have to pay monthly for the privilege of keeping your website up and running, then you can most certainly say that the end result will be far from custom built. Instead it’s likely to be a theme or template downloaded and installed without your knowledge. Custom built websites are more expensive than themes, there’s no secret about that. The longer it takes to design and develop, the more it will cost, so don’t be fooled by £500 websites that are ‘tailor-made’. Tailor-made can be a theme with a few plugins installed and that’s one task even those with limited digital knowledge can complete all by themselves.

For businesses serious about the growth of their companies and achieving unique, stand out representation online, the cost of a truly custom built website is a small price to pay. Using themes means developers have significantly less, if any, coding to take care of, but who wants an easy life! Go custom built and embrace a tailor-made platform that not only satisfies your objectives now but grows with your business for the long haul.

The initial cost of a website theme may be cheap, but what it could cost you in the long run will amount to much, much more. With a website theme you’re likely to spend more on the technical support you need to update, maintain and secure it. You’ll need to get an entirely new theme installed if your business changes tack. You’ll also need to pay out of the ear if you want to add more pages, graphics and functionality as your company grows.

Update and maintain your custom website with ease

Themes may offer great convenience if you’re looking for a website on a budget that’s live in lightning speed, but my gosh, their creators don’t make updating, altering and maintaining them easy. Updating your website is a vital part of keeping your business, its customers and its data safe, and custom built sites are a hell of a lot easier to update than website themes.

If a website theme or template hasn’t been well-made or consistently maintained by its developer, updating even its WordPress version can break the entire website. The solution? Start again or get stuck running an older version of WordPress. The latter will leave your website more vulnerable to hacker attack and your business at risk of closure. According to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports, business cybercrime is up by 63% in the UK. Give your website a chance to protect your business and its customer data by updating regularly and using the latest versions of WordPress.

Website themes aren’t the best optimised

Search engine optimisation (SEO) has been a buzz term for as long as we can remember. While things have moved on significantly from the days of black hat tactics and spammy forum links, your website still plays an integral role in keeping you optimised for the best possible visibility online.

Website themes and their generic code don’t provide the best optimisation for your business. They can’t spell out to search engines and browsers alike what makes your brand unique, market leading and better than your competitors. Custom built websites on the other hand are created with best practice SEO in mind. The developers building your custom site will use the latest and greatest technical knowledge to ensure your website is optimised. This high level of optimisation will be a key part of your digital footprint, and ensure any complementary strategies you plan to execute both on and off line have solid foundations.

In addition to ensuring your website has the structured data it needs to correctly identify pages, and the speed and mobile-first responsiveness it requires to provide an engaging user experience (just two of the many ways we work to optimise all the websites we put our name to), those looking to include landing pages can also benefit from going custom. Longer, correctly optimised landing pages can generate up to 220% more leads for businesses and a custom design will ensure your website can be full of them if that’s something you desire.

Say “no” to themes because originality matters

In today’s technologically driven world, standing out matters. In crowded marketplaces in particular, creating a unique, memorable brand isn’t easy. Companies with the same markets and similar objectives can unfortunately merge into one, but you can give your brand the distinctiveness it deserves by opting for a custom website instead of a website theme. Using a theme will leave your website looking like everyone else’s. The most popular themes are downloaded thousands of times a day so it is difficult to be original with a template. Templates may be getting more sophisticated, with theme developers providing more options in regards to their customisation but there’s only so many ways you can present the same theme. Give your brand the originality it needs to stand out in its target market, from its website home page to its blog roll, by saying “no” to website themes altogether, and going bespoke.

Make sure the digital face of your business is unique, well-presented and memorable. Custom websites give you all you need to make a great impression every time whilst laying the foundations for lasting relationships with your customers.

Ready to create a bespoke, custom built website? Well, you’re in the right place. Choose Beartown Media as your web design and development partner to embrace every single benefit mentioned above, plus so much more. Let’s make something great together. Chat to our team today or drop us an email to get started.

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