Have you every wondered why you should build WordPress themes from scratch? Well, I have compiled 10 reasons why I build WordPress themes from scratch as opposed to hacking another theme. This isn’t going to be one of those articles that bashes the use of professional themes or child theming. Most people start out using free or paid themes to develop with, because it helps get us used to how WordPress themes work and it can speed up the dev process. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t hacked apart a theme or two.
When Should You Buy Or Hack A Theme?
There are times that you should purchase a theme or grab a free one if it suites your needs. If you’re a business owner and you just started the business, there usually isn’t a budget for a website. If you happen to be apart of a non-profit organization that has just started or all of it’s funding is used elsewhere, grab a $40 theme and add your content. There are some really great WordPress theme developers out there creating beautifully designed and highly functional templates.
When Should You Build WordPress Themes From Scratch?
If you are a developer and you have been hacking themes for a while, you should start building themes from scratch. It is a great learning experience and it will take your skill level way up. If you are a business owner and have a website already, I would recommend looking into a developer that can build you a custom solution. If your website is looking old, isn’t working for you rather against you, you aren’t being found on search engines, or all of the above you should upgrade. If you fit into any of these examples, this article is for you!
Reason #1 – Lightweight
Reason #2 – User Friendly
A site that was designed and built specifically for your business and the clients that your business attracts will perform better for you. Perform in the sense that you know your clients better than anyone, so if the site is designed for them to be able to understand and navigate the information you are presenting them, the more likely you are to make a sale. People have a short attention span and if they don’t find what they want or can’t navigate to what they are looking for…they will leave! Wouldn’t you?
Reason #3 – Update Friendly
The WordPress team is constantly working to make WordPress bigger and better. This means that they offer updates quite often. It is important to update your version of WordPress because it keeps everything working like it is supposed to. Well, that is the theory anyways. Then, if you have purchased a theme from someone, they are constantly staying on top of the WordPress team’s changes so that they can then upgrade their theme to work with the newer version of WordPress. This means you will be offered an update from your theme as well. What happens if your theme builder decides to no longer maintain the theme…this happens frequently and I don’t blame them because it is a lot of work! Bottom line is that on many occasion when you update either WordPress or your theme…IT BREAKS! Sometimes things stop working…sometimes things disappear all together. If the person who hacked the theme in the first place, if they didn’t create a child theme, all of the customization that was done could be erased and reverted back to the way the theme came in the first place.
When you build WordPress themes from scratch, you can have peace of mind that your site won’t break. This is because it would have been built lightweight which means it wouldn’t have a bunch of plugins, no missing author who isn’t maintaining it, and no customization will disappear.
Reason #4 – More Secure
Plugins are a powerful tool in WordPress. It can take your site from being boring to being a powerful cross marketing tool within your website. The only problem is that plugins are prone to weaknesses in security. Some of them hang a sign on your website that says “Please attack daily, enter here” in flashing lights. Once again, this plugin wasn’t built by your or your web developer so good luck tracking them down and getting them to not only fix their plugin but potentially restore your site back to normal. It could literally be lost forever if you didn’t have a back up of it. Plus, most professional web developers are aware of the current security risks happening at that time and can build a custom theme that has additional protection for those risks.
Reason #5 – Custom Look
I recently met with a client who showed me more than 5 different websites that are from her competitors that were ALL using the same theme. Some of them looked slightly different, and of course the content was different, but the colors and the structure were identical. As a business owner myself, I would be ashamed if I had a website that looked exactly like my competitors website. Your brand identity is one of the most important things in a business. It sets you apart and is basically the face of your company. Your website should have a customized look that highlights your brand identity and looks extremely professional. Most people are looking for something that really stands out to them. Your business can’t stand out in a sea of the same fish!
Reason #6 – Custom Functionality
If you want your business to rise above all the rest, you need to give your customer something that no one else has. In WordPress, people use plugins to gain functionality. For example, I recently built a client a coupon plugin that allows her to go in and fill out a few fields and save and magically a coupon appears on the website’s sidebar or on an individual page. They can place it anywhere there is a widget area available. This gave them the ability to have dynamic coupons. They can choose the text color, button colors, background colors, rounded corners, and many other things. This allows her to have functionality that is unique and unlike anyone else. It doesn’t sound that impactful but to them it brings more customers which drastically impacts money into their pockets. Having a developer build you something custom sets a bar for your competitors to compete with. A random plugin from the WordPress library isn’t going to give you anything someone else doesn’t already have.
Reason #7 – Expandability
I mentioned earlier that the people who would benefit from reading this article would be medium size business looking to take their company to the next level. So let’s say you just made that decision and have a beautiful new website. What happens when you are ready to become a large company or a massive company? If you have a new beautiful website that was built on another theme and now you want to upgrade the site to work for on a large scale, you might struggle to find someone willing to go in and touch that code. You will probably have to have someone build you a completely new website from scratch. Too many things start to pile up, then you want to add more functionality to keep up with higher demands and eventually you will have a site that is so large that you can’t even load it in a browser. If you build a custom theme from scratch at the point that you are ready to go from a small company to a medium company, it will cost less and be lightweight. So lightweight, that is will easily expand into the next phase of your business. Don’t to forget to speak with the company building your new website and come up with a plan ahead of time to allow for expandable phases. Your investment into building from scratch will allow you to have a website that has a great engine but the body of the car can change as the style of cars change over time.
Reason #8 – Search Engine Optimization
Yoast is a wonderful plugin for SEO and I highly recommend it. Even when you build from scratch plug this bad boy in and it becomes a powerful tool to allow your site to be found by search engines. There are limitations when it comes to using Yoast, it isn’t the complete package. There are techniques that a developer who builds from scratch will know to implement so that together Yoast and your website will work together to get you in front of your customers worldwide.
Reason #9 – Build Relationships
I am going out on a limb with this one, but I feel that it is a good idea to find and build a relationship with your WordPress developer team. Find a company that you like and trust and build a strategy with them that goes beyond the initial website build. These people are not only experts in web, but most of them will also be required to stay on top of trends and new technology. If they don’t stay ahead of the game, they will quickly go out of business so it is pertinent they stay on top of the news. At Webtegrity, we have met with many many clients who for whatever reason do not have contact with their former website builder and can’t get their website up to date or change anything. They are then forced to re-invest in a new website, which could have been avoided if they had originally set up an extended business plan for their website. Lucky for us, they stumble into our doors and we are able to WOW them and prove to them that our methods work! We build a relationship with them and plan out long-term solutions. Sounds like a shameless plug for business but our clients are much happier and have a business website that is going to perform for them for many years to come.
Reason #10 – Uniqueness
I listed this one last, not because I think it is the most important, but because I think that when it comes to WordPress websites sometimes there is a lack of uniqueness. It is simply the nature of the beast. Unless you have someone build you a custom theme or custom plugin, you must choose from the openly available themes and plugins that everyone else uses. There are some wonderfully talented theme designers who create very unique stylist websites, but then thousands of people go out and buy it and then you have a bunch of sites that look practically the same. As a business owner, please do your very best to stand out above your competitors and have someone build you a uniquely from scratch website! It will be one of the best business decisions you will ever make!