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When to Use a Custom Coded WordPress Theme

Written by 
Emory Rowland 
15 March, 2018

Want to start a WordPress website? If you don’t know where to begin, and the options seem overwhelming, it can be easier than you think. Many opt to go with WordPress because it is very user-friendly and affordable. If you decide to start with WordPress, you can choose to go with either a custom coded or standard theme based website. What are the differences of both and what will work for you? Let’s take a look.

theme based custome coded themes

Custom coded WordPress website

A custom coded WordPress website is coded to your specifications. Typically, most coding companies start with a new installation of the newest default WordPress theme or use a framework like Genesis or Thesis. The layout, design, and functionality of the theme can be tailored to suit your dreams. Default WordPress themes are free.

Custom coded WordPress websites are a great choice because they are designed for functionality and can give close attention to the specific type of user experience you’re after. Because they are coded from the ground up, they take longer than simply choosing a default theme from the WordPress theme directory.

These sorts of websites cost more than default WordPress themes, because of the amount of work needed. However, the website is designed for smoother usability, is completely customizable and will be different than any other website.

Theme based WordPress website

A theme based WordPress website is one which has pre-made coding and layout. There are potentially thousands of themes to choose from. These pre-coded themes are popular choices among web designers because it allows them easily to get a nice looking website up and running quickly. The only remaining steps to complete the website are to add in content and images to posts and pages, and any plugins which may be needed. Some of the fancier WordPress themes cost money. Even so, premium themes cost less than custom coded themes.

Main Considerations

If you are trying to choose between a custom coded and theme based WordPress website, here are a few things to consider.


To buy a prebuilt WordPress theme, the average cost is $30-$50. A custom coded website can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars.


Custom coded themes can take weeks to design and code. If you are dead set on having a custom coded WordPress website, then make sure you have planned for the time that it will take. Some designers are so busy that they even have a waiting list. On the other hand, theme based designs can be bought and put to use right away. Since the majority of the coding is done, all you need to add is personal touches.


Many WordPress themes come with prebuilt functionality like responsive design, SEO configurations, custom post types and other options. For users who are looking for a relatively simple website, these features may seem useless. If you are working with a designer to make a custom coded website, you can skip these features if you don’t need them.


Ease of Use
Some theme based designs are easier to work with than others and offer tools to make customization easier. However, if you really want a theme to match your brand, it will probably require tinkering with CSS and PHP. On the other hand, if you have hired a designer to create your website, then you won’t need to worry.


Code Issues
Some WordPress themes can have problematic code that presents security issues. Unfortunately, some are coded poorly and not up to standards. Themes that are not coded correctly may take longer to set up. With a custom coded theme, this is usually not going to be a problem.


When it comes to being unique, custom coded themes are the winner. Theme based designs can be edited but present limitations to the non-coder. 

Which is best for who?

As you have read, there are pros and cons to both types of WordPress theme designs. Which option is best depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Let’s take a look.

Personal Blog – Bloggers who are looking to set up a small personal blog, will probably find that theme based designs are a great choice. They are affordable, have many features that bloggers need, and can be set up quickly.

Local Small Business – For businesses, either a theme based design or a custom coded theme will work. Theme based are cheap and easy to set up. However, custom coded websites provide a unique website that offers functionality and customization. Some will probably start with a theme based website, and may eventually have their own custom coded website designed, as the desire to expand design and functionality develops.

Corporate Website – Corporate websites often need a website that is custom coded. Because they are large entities, they need functional, clean websites which are different from any other. It reflects the brand and is likely worth the investment in the long run.

Ecommerce – For ecommerce websites, both types of websites will work. Smaller operations may find that a theme based design will work while providing the customization that the owner needs. A custom coded website will allow for more growth later down the road.

As you can see, there are some big differences between both types of websites. You should now have a basic idea of what type of WordPress website will work for you. Which do you prefer, a custom coded or a theme based design?

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