Custom or Pre-Built? Which WordPress Site is best for you?

WordPress was designed to be a CMS (content management system) that can be used by everyone, from professional agencies to personal portfolios. Statistics show that 35% of the internet is powered by WordPress. That means that around 455,000,000 websites are using WordPress right now! While WordPress might be the best CMS in the market, it can also be vulnerable and unstable, causing your site to crash. In this article, I’m going to discuss those vulnerabilities and how to avoid them. For those not familiar, there are two ways to build a WordPress site: using a pre-built theme or building a custom theme.

The Cheaper Option: Pre-Built Themes

The easier and cheaper option is using a pre-built theme. This is the most popular option in building a WordPress site because it’s quick, easy, and cost-efficient. Users can have a personal website built within a couple of hours using a pre-built theme, but this is where the vulnerabilities come in. The reason a site can be built so quickly is because of page builders and other plugins. A page builder is basically a drag-and-drop interface that allows users to quickly add new content and adjust the page layout. The issue with page builders is that they’re not native to WordPress, meaning it’s a third-party plugin. These plugins will receive updates periodically to fix bugs and improve the plugin, but sometimes these updates can actually cause your site to break. There are many issues that can cause this, but most of the time it’s caused by the plugin not being compatible with the version of WordPress the site is running or there’s a conflict with another plugin. The more plugins a site has, the more vulnerable that site is to breaking and/or it being hacked. At the time of writing this, WordPress has suspended the Astra theme for violating terms that affected over 1 million users.

The Safest Option: Custom Themes

The best way to avoid these vulnerabilities is to build a custom theme. While a custom theme is more expensive and time-consuming, it will also be a lot more future proof and optimized than a pre-built theme. Custom themes don’t rely on plugins to build a site, instead, they’re built using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP.  Custom themes will still use a few plugins, but these plugins aren’t critical for the site to work.  You might be thinking ‘I don’t know how to code, how will I make changes to my site?’. Developers can utilize custom fields in the WordPress admin for clients to easily make changes to their site.

With all that being said, pre-built themes will be sufficient for a majority of today’s websites. Everyone doesn’t have the same needs or wants which is why WordPress is such a great CMS.  It has the ability to cater to any budget or project. From my experience, a custom-built theme will last longer and be more stable, but it comes with a cost.

If you would like to discuss these different options in more detail please let us know. We have years of experience with both options and can share success and horror stories from the past. We look forward to working with you!

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