Off the shelf themes and frameworks can be great, they are an inexpensive, and fast, way to get a website up and running.
For simple, or time limited sites, they can be a sensible option, using an off the shelf theme does have drawbacks and limitations though.
Off the shelf themes can look stunning, but using one means you will be prioritising the theme’s design over your message. Your marketing message will be shoehorned into someone else’s design.
You can create a unique design, and tweak to make the theme close to this, but there will need to be compromise. It is unlikely the off the shelf theme will be flexible enough to match the design 100% accurately, in a way a bespoke theme can.
Besides, If you have gone to the trouble and expense of having the perfect, unique, design created, really the site should be coded bespoke.
Off the shelf themes need to be all things to all men, for instance the image in the introductory paragraphs needs to be able to align left, right, centrally, have rounded corners, drop shadow, text over the top with an overlay etc.
Great to have these options, and for non-developers these are required to create the site, but the site has to carry all of this additional, unused code, and that slows it down.
A bespoke theme will only use the code required to produce the layout, and nothing more. This means it is faster, more secure, easier to manage and will last longer.
Using a strong atomic approach to the site admin development allows new pages to be created and layouts modified easily.
Off the shelf themes tend to overly reply on plugins for functionality, of course some plugins will be required, but too often elements are added with plugins that should be coded into a theme.
A bespoke theme that codes functionality instead using plugins will mean you have more control over the code in use, and there will be less of it. So the site will be more secure, faster and easier to maintain, it will have a longer lifespan as well.
An off the shelf theme will use more code, and more plugins, making the site codebase larger, heavier and slower.
A bespoke theme will be leaner and faster, this is great for SEO especially given Google’s recent focus on speed. A faster loading site also uses less energy to process a page visit, so it’s better for the environment too.
The more code a site contains, especially where it has been written by different people, the more chance there is of vulnerabilities creeping in.
A bespoke theme will use fewer plugins, and a single codebase, so it is less vulnerable.
You do still of course, need effective security measures in place.
As with security, more plugins and a larger code base mean more work maintaining the site, and maintained it will need to be.
This is especially true when it comes to major updates, such as significant PHP version upgrades.
Bespoke sites are easier to maintain, and tend to age better, lasting several years longer than off the shelf themed sites. We have sites pushing 10 that are still performing well.
If you have had a design produced, and would like to discuss the options for creating a fully functioning WordPress site, get in touch, we’re here to help.