WordPress Theme Website vs. Custom-Coded Website- How to Choose the Right One

Are you looking to start a WordPress website? Setting up a WordPress website is a great idea but as you step into the world of WordPress, you’ll encounter several different terms and even strange lingo. And for a beginner, this might look a bit intimidating at first.

Without any doubt, WordPress is the most user-friendly and affordable platform to create a great functional website. However, it’s obvious to get confused in the beginning. If you’re shopping for a new or re-designed site, you must have several questions in mind. And the very first one would be- “Should I use a WordPress template or a custom coded theme?” This is a common confusion because not many people know the difference between a theme-based and a custom-coded website to choose the one that will work well for them.

Sankt-Petersburg, Russia, January 11, 2018: Apple iMac with WordPress homepage on monitor screen under magnifying glass. Homepage of WordPress.com on PC computer. WordPress is a free and open-source blogging tool and a content management system

If you also have the same confusion, here I am going to clear all your doubts related to the WordPress themes. So, let’s first understand what WordPress themes are.

What Is A WordPress Theme?

The collection of templates in WordPress that are used to define the look and design of a WordPress powered website is known as the theme. Once you create your WordPress account and move to the dashboard, you will need to choose a theme for your website. It determines the design and layout of your website, as well as reflects your personal taste and the niche of the website.

WordPress.org offers hundreds of free, as well as paid themes to help you choose the one that suits your taste and requirements. And you can easily download and install these free or paid premium templates onto your WordPress platform. This sounds pretty simple and cool! But wait, if you already have so many options and that too for free, why you need to consider using custom coded themes.

To choose the right option for your website, you first need to know the difference between theme-based and custom coded website. Each one has certain pros and cons and your choice will totally depend on your personal needs.

Theme-Based WordPress Website

As mentioned above, WordPress offers numerous pre-coded themes to choose from. If you go for a theme-based website whose layout and coding is already done you can quickly and easily design a nice looking website. Since coding is already done, you simply need to add in content, images, and any required plugins and your website is ready. Another option is choosing a premium theme which is also pre-coded but not free. You need to pay for these themes to give a fancy look to your website. Apparently, the ease of setting up a website and low cost involved makes a theme-based website the most preferred option. However, these websites have several drawbacks and this is where some companies choose a custom coded version.

Custom-Coded WordPress Website

If you want to make your website look the way you want, there’s an option of custom coding. A custom coded WordPress website is coded to make it completely unique and adapt to the style and goal of the website owner. Unlike the default WordPress themes, these cost more because it takes more time to customize the layout, design, and functionality of the theme to suit your needs. However, the cost is the only disadvantage of custom-coded sites as it offers several benefits such as superior SEO performance.

Choosing between a Custom-Coded Website and a Theme-based Website

Now as you know the different options you have, it’s time to find out which one is better for you. For this, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each type.

  1. Cost

If you’re looking for a cost-effective option, you should go for a default or premium theme. A prebuilt WordPress theme has a low upfront cost, around $30-$50. A custom coded website, on the other hand, can cost you hundreds of dollars. For bloggers and small business owners, a theme-based website can be the right choice as it is affordable and have all the basic features.

  1. Functionality

The first and biggest benefit of a custom-coded website is achieving the perfect look to reflect your brand. However, the benefits don’t end here! These websites are designed to offer more functionality. In a theme-based website, plugins are coded by the 3rd party developers that often create a problem and need updates to function smoothly. This issue doesn’t arise with custom-coded websites. Also, unlike theme-based websites that are prone to crashing, here you don’t have this risk. Although developers provide updates, if a default theme gets discontinued, you’ll also stop receiving updates.

  1. Time

For designing and coding a custom website, it usually takes weeks. Moreover, if you want to hire the best web designer, you might need to wait a bit longer because they have several other clients also. Theme-based websites offer the advantage of quick installation because coding is already done and you simply need to add your content.

  1. Security

It’s seen that some WordPress themes face security issues due to their knotty coding. Moreover, if the theme is outdated, it poses a security threat to the website. The poorly coded themes not only take more time to set up but also cause several other issues. Sometimes, these websites get hacked and the owners don’t even know about it. For solving the coding issues, the website owner needs to depend on the developer and not all are quick to fix your issues. However, with a custom coded theme, you’re not likely to face such problems.

  1. Ease of Use

The default and premium WordPress themes offer customization and features like animation. Premium themes also come with some in-built flexibility to make it easier to do configurations. But for better customization to reflect your brand identity, theme-based websites would require making adjustments with CSS and PHP. In contrast, if you’re ready to invest in custom-code deigning, your web developer will know exactly where to find the code and can quickly make changes.


By now, you must have understood that each option has some advantages, as well as some disadvantages. So, which one is right for you completely depends on your personal preferences. If you need a small website and have a tight budget, free default themes are the best option for you. And if you’re unable to find a theme to suit your needs, you can go for premium themes. These offer more in-depth changes but obviously, you have to pay for it. However, both these options are not the right choice for big corporate or e-commerce websites. Large companies need a functional and unique website that can reflect their brand and offer better chances to upgrade in the future.

A custom-coded WordPress site costs more up front, but you may consider it to achieve better performance and an edge up over the competition. With custom coding, you get better chances to optimize your site for page loading speed and quality. So, evaluate your needs and compare the pros and cons of each option to make an informed decision.

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