I’m often asked about the differences between quick ‘throw together’ theme website builds and websites designed and built from scratch. In this article, I’m going to briefly outline the pros and cons of both of these web design solutions.

Theme Built Websites

As the cheaper option of the two, theme built sites tend to be the more favoured by small businesses but the reality is this cheaper option could well have negative effects in the long term when it comes to online marketing. During initial consultations, a lot of the businesses I’ve worked with have expressed their desire for me to use pre-coded structures (themes) in an attempt to save money, and I certainly don’t blame them, after all, who doesn’t like to save money where they can? As an online marketer as well as a web designer it’s my job to ensure my clients know the pros and cons of theme built sites before moving forward.

The issues:

  • Unnecessary bulk  –  The big problem with the vast majority of themes is that they try and cater to everyone’s needs, be it an online shop, portfolio or brochure website. This is great to the untrained eye,  but as a result, the client’s website is left with hundreds of unused lines of code, redundant plugins, images and files left on the server.
  • Design Limitations  –  As a designer, this is one of the most frustrating downsides. Themes tend to come with their own pre-built pages and elements
  • Slow Load Speeds  –  As a result of the above, theme websites can be notoriously slow to load. This is also due to excessively large CSS and Javascript files. Load speed is a crucial Google ranking factor and as a result of slow page, loading clients can experience a negative impact on SEO. Click here to read about the importance of page load speed.
  • Lower Conversion Rates  –  It doesn’t take long to make a first impression on a potential client. If your website is slow and clunky you could well be losing potential leads and business you didn’t know about.

The pros:

  • As mentioned at the beginning, a theme built website does have the advantage of being cheap and is good for establishing that first presence on the web for freelancers/businesses that are just starting out. However, this should be a temporary solution.

Website Design & Developed From Scratch

Yes, this is the more expensive option, but a website designed and developed from scratch is built to last and be an ongoing marketing tool that works seamlessly with Google and it’s users. This method also has the advantage of being totally bespoke, allowing the client to get the exact look and feel they want while also giving the designer more control, allowing them to design not just for aesthetics but most importantly for the highest possible lead conversion rate.

The issues:

  • Price tag – In comparison to theme builds the price is higher, but if designed and developed correctly you certainly get your moneys worth in the long run…

The pros:

  • Completely bespoke – Here’s the chance to stand out from your competition, a great bespoke web design project starts with in-depth competitor research, and the final product establishes your business as a key player in its industry/sector.  There are no limits on design.
  • Fast load speeds & Google optimised – Using the latest development techniques a bespoke website will be fast to load. Everyone hates slow loading websites and often don’t bother looking at your website if it takes longer than 6 seconds to load), don’t lose these potential leads! Fast page load speed is also a good Google ranking factor. If you’re interested in gaining business from SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), stop yourself ‘falling at the first hurdle’ by getting a website designed and developed from scratch.
  • Lead conversions – What every business owner wants their website to achieve. A bespoke website is designed and coded to be the ultimate marketing tool: easy to use navigation, clear call to actions, seamless interaction & aesthetically pleasing are some of the main characteristics a website should have to turn those everyday users into leads for business.