Healing Arts Web Design

For Clients, WordPress

When to Invest in a Custom WordPress Theme (and When Not To)

If you’re serious about your business, you need a professional-looking website that’s user- and SEO-friendly. To build one, many web designers recommend WordPress, a Content Management System (CMS) that can be used as an off-the-shelf template or to create a completely custom site.

To determine if your designer should customize a template or build a one-of-a-kind site for your business, you need to know the difference between the two and what you’re paying for.

What’s the Difference between a Template and a Custom WordPress Design?

In a nutshell, it’s the difference between having a more generic look and feel versus a thoroughly branded online experience. It’s also the difference between spending upwards of five hundred dollars for a web presence versus thousands of dollars for a dynamic online marketing tool.

Both site types have their place, but appeal to different audiences.

For a newer or smaller yoga business on a tight budget, a template can be a fantastic option. But for an established yoga studio, whose strength lies in differentiating itself from competitors, a custom site is often needed to fully capture the business’s image and underscore its reputation for quality, reliability and trust.

Template Sites: Choose a Theme and Plug In Your Info

With a WordPress template, you can quickly create a professional but basic web presence. Think of it as an online business card that points people to your company and provides useful information about your products and services.

Some premium WordPress themes help jumpstart the layout and style of your site, saving you time and decision-making. For example, Yoga and Health & Wellness themes—with their soothing colors and often minimalist vibe—are designed with the wellness community in mind.

To buy a WordPress template, visit a site that sells them, such as WooThemes.com or ThemeForest.net. Your web designer can help you narrow your choices and select a template that suits your business and style. Prices for the themes generally range from $75 to $150, plus whatever your designer will charge to help with installation and customization.

Once you’ve bought and downloaded the template, your designer can customize it with your images and other content, and activate any available functionality. Purchase a hosting account and a domain name and voilà! Your business website is born.

Custom WordPress Design: Build from the Ground Up and to Your Specifications

With a custom site, it’s a whole other ballpark. Instead of fitting your business concept into a predefined template, everything—from navigation to layout, to graphics to functionality, to image and content placement—is per your specifications. Style, logos and colors reflect your brand, and everything ties in seamlessly with any existing marketing materials.

Your designer starts with the goals and preferences you have in mind—like having a teacher directory, a multi-author blog, and coding that will make your site easy to edit, social media friendly, and fully responsive (so that it resizes to fit any screen). Once you’ve decided exactly what you want, and how you want your site to look and interact with visitors, the building begins.

Between your input and your designer’s artistic and technical skill, you end up with a one-of-a-kind website that’s visually stunning and highly functional. It showcases your brand’s unique appeal, products and services, which adds value and drives business.

Plus, since you’ve designed your site to contain exactly what you need — and nothing you don’t — it loads fast and runs smoothly.

When a Template Will Do

A template is often sufficient for businesses that are just starting out and/or have little to no branding. If you need something online while you grow your clientele and map out your business plan, a prepaid WordPress theme will save you time and money and get your name on the web now.

On the downside, because you’re constrained by color schemes and other design limitations, you face the challenge of fitting your concept into someone else’s web design.

When Custom Design is the Way to Go

With a custom WordPress site, you can stand out from the crowd in a way that completely captures your business’s personality and offerings. This is especially important for larger wellness companies that have an established name within the industry.

Besides really branding things up, your designer can also add advanced functionality that lets clients better engage with your business online. Examples include interactive forms, calendars, class registration and site-protected (i.e., member only) pages.

The Bottom Line

When choosing between a WordPress template or a custom WordPress design, budget is obviously a factor—but not necessarily the deciding one. To determine which site type is better for your business, ask yourself:

  • How visually impressive do I want my site to be?
  • How important is branding to my business?
  • How important is it for my site to have advanced functions?

If your answer is “very” to any or all the above, it pays to invest in a custom WordPress theme.

If you have no branding, are just starting out, or only need a basic online presence, save money with an off-the-shelf WordPress template. A good web designer can customize it to reflect your business and still make you look like a pro!

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About the Author:

Dara Holland is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She writes online content and business articles for clients ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. She’s also a fitness enthusiast and dog park regular. Learn more about her at DaraHolland.com.

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