What is WordPress?
Lets first explore what WordPress is. By definition WordPress is a free content management system used to build and maintain websites? What exactly does this mean for you? It means we can use WordPress to provide a cost effective content management system to allow you to edit the contents of your website.
We use WordPress because it’s developed and maintained by thousands of developers across top global companies like MTV, The New York Times & BBC. It’s constantly being updated and new features are being added which allows us time to focus on what really matters, your website!
What is a WordPress Theme?
A WordPress theme is a collection of “generic” pre-built websites. These websites are purpose built to be customised to suit your brand with the ability to edit colours, add functionality and change layouts to suit. They are typically designed to fix a specific industry and built as a “All in one” solution. A good theme normally starts at around £60.
Themes provide a cost effective solution that allows small businesses to get online, relatively quickly without breaking the bank. If you’re not interested in a custom design and are not particularly concerned with the optimisation of your website then a theme could provide a great solution to you and your business.
Here is a list of popular themes:
Cons of using a Theme
Now that we’ve covered what a theme is and what to be careful of when dealing with agencies that use themes let's take a look at some of the cons of using a theme:
Speed is vital for the success of your website... Google now penalises websites that have a long load time. There has been multiple studies that show that if users wait more than 3 seconds for a website to load they will drop out and go somewhere else. Not good news when you’re trying to gain more business through your website.
Themes are known for being slow, they use up a lot of resources because they need to accommodate multiple theme options and functionality, for example: colours, layouts, sliders, fancy page scrolls and a load of plugins. What you end up with is dozens of features that load on every page leaving you with a really bloated website that will cause you massive performance issues and can be a potential nightmare to try and fix. Even if the options are not being used, they'll still be running in the background slowing down your site.
Themes can be optimised but they will never be able to perform as good as a custom WordPress website.
Best Practices and Formatting
While many theme websites might look great visually there can be a lot going wrong under the hood. Clean code is important for performance, functionality, readability and most importantly scalability. A badly coded theme will cause the website to break often and slow down your site dramatically. Sloppy development will make it incredibly difficult for anyone else to inherit the website and make changes. Theme developers can get away with bad practices as their audience is non-developers who won’t be able to spot the issues.
While a theme might provide custom functionality you are very restricted in changing any of the functionality, it’s been hardwired into the theme. Meaning you’ll likely have to make do with workarounds. E.G You might need to have a staff page with bios and images, the images might be small but if the images inside the theme layout are large images you’ll have to make do as you won’t easily be able to reduce the image size outside the parameters of the theme. A lot of the time your website needs don’t quite fit the parameters of the theme and your site ends up looking messy.
In similar fashion to the best practices a lot of themes simply outright violate SEO standards and can have a very negative effect on your search engine rankings. Some pre-built themes do offer SEO optimisation out of the box but a lot of the time these won’t work for your needs as a pre-built themes SEO is more of a “one size fits all”.
A theme is a pre-built template so you wont be getting any custom design, it won’t be original and it will look very similar to other websites. That might not be an issue to you but what is more of a problem is when you start to add content. Because of the limited nature of a theme it can often feel like trying to put round pegs in square holes when adding in your own content.
A quick explanation of a Custom website
Custom Sites are made from scratch, the design and functionality would be completely tailored to fit your companies needs. This gives you complete control of the look and feel of your website.
They are much faster than pre-built themes as you don’t need to have dozens of features on the site. It’s bespoke to the client so only the styles, colours and functionality that the site is using will run, no hidden scripts will be running in the background. This means the site will have minimal code to load compared to a pre-built theme making it faster and more likely to rank on search engines.
Because it’s completely custom it will give you the flexibility to create a design that is completely tailored to your business and audience. Meaning we can design a perfect user journey that will be optimised to get the most out of your website visitors.
If you’re looking at getting a new website built make sure that you're getting your money's worth. Do the research and make sure you’re not getting ripped off. A Pre-built theme can be a great solution if you are on a budget but be sure you’re aware of the cons and the limitations.
Here at Volley we’re experts with web design and always adapt the way we work to fit your needs. Are you on a low budget? We'll help you with a theme. Have you got the budget for a custom build? Then we’ll design and build a custom website perfect for your company. Whatever your needs we’ll be able to help you one way or another. We’ll be honest on our approach and give you as many options as you need to cover your circumstance.
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