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Anyone who has ever decided to get a new website based on WordPress or WooCommerce has asked themselves this question. One of the most popular features promoted by WP and WooComm ecosystems is their large database of pre-built graphic templates for websites and online stores. But are pre-made themes really a good alternative to custom graphic design? And if so, for whom?

Agencies operating in the WP environment often try to downplay WordPress templates, saying that bespoke solutions are the only right choice. Even though at Buzy Design we do both – custom projects, we will certainly not discredit the use of off-the-shelf themes. My role here is to make it clear when it is better to hit the template market and when it’s best to invest in a custom project.

Let’s find out what the main advantages and disadvantages of pre-made templates are.

Advantages of WordPress and WooCommerce pre-built templates

  • Easy access to a large number of designs. 
  • Low or no initial costs.
  • Short implementation time.
  • Easy to use and edit without the knowledge of how to program.

Disdvantages of WordPress and WooCommerce pre-built templates

  • The quality of the themes’ code and their security is difficult to verify.
  • Limited editability of the website.
  • Templates may not be adaptable to other elements of the website ecosystem, such as plugins.
  • Potentially problematic transition to another template – data migration issues.

Once the pros and cons have been listed, let’s take a look at when using pre-built website templates is a good idea and when it’s not.

When should you consider using off-the-shelf themes?

  • Your website / e-commerce has to meet very specific requirements and you are looking for a solution that fits your vision. You also want to be able to further develop your website without any limitations.
  • Your site needs to integrate with other external systems: CRM, PIM, stock management systems, etc., so the integration may require a bit of programming. A pre-built WordPress template has a lot of excess code that can behave in unpredictable ways if a developer tampers with it too much. The more moving parts, the more likely it is that some problems will occur.
  • SEO is crucial to you. An important element that affects a website’s SEO is its speed optimization – the ready-to-use theme can be very limiting in this matter, making the workload disproportionate to the expected results.
  • Your website is meant to grow and is one of main channels for sourcing clients / candidates. It’s good to have full control over the technology that is crucial to your business. Relying on solutions that you have no control over is an additional risk.

Choosing a pre-made theme doesn’t mean you’ll automatically walk into a dead-end with no way out; you can always try changing the theme to a different one. However, it will be more problematic to customise it to your needs. Working on someone else’s often complex code can lead to unpredictable results. I strongly advise against this approach.

I believe that it is good to choose what we think is best, but also to be fully aware of the pros and cons of that choice. Making a conscious decision also means being aware of the consequences and accepting them. Trying to change or improve the solution we have chosen can quickly become problematic and unprofitable in the long run.

Where to look for custom WordPress and WooCommerce solutions?

So, do you think you’ll choose a ready-made template or a bespoke solution? If you opt for the latter, get in touch with us  we’ll be happy to help you implement it!  We’ll make sure your website or online store meets your business needs and we’ll take care of the technical side so you don’t have to worry about that.

However, if you have decided that a pre-built theme is an option that fully satisfies your needs, please remember to always use templates from reliable sources; from providers, whose work is recommended by WordPress professionals.