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Custom Web Design vs WordPress Theme: Which Is Better?

Custom Web Design vs. WordPress Theme: Which Way to Choose?

Are you looking for a chance to go online with your brand new website or do you need to update the existing project to make it look more stylish and interactive? Website owners crave for a richer feature set to keep their visitors engaged. Whether you need to build a growing digital store or professional business portfolio, you will firstly need to think about its appearance.

Considering you plan to build your future website on WordPress, which is one of the most popular and longest-running CMS available today, you actually have two different paths to choose from:

  1. The first one is to hire a professional team of developers to create a brand new and unique web design from scratch.
  2. The second way to opt for ready-made WordPress themes representing thousands of responsive templates for any website type and business category.
  3. The third solution is to launch a WordPress website with a visual editor.

The third option proves to be the simplest variant for an ordinary user, who intends to create one-of-a-kind website design without investing into premium templates or using free themes.

Best Services to Create Unique WordPress Design

Pinegrow – The Best WordPress Template Software

Product Name:Pinegrow
Official Website:
Number of Websites:312,525
Free plan:No
Paid plan:From $12/mo

Pinegrow – is a contemporary desktop software, the main area of application of which goes down to starting websites from scratch. It is also possible to edit ready-made web pages, using the integrated toolset of the platform. The system works quite well equally for beginners and web design experts. Non-techies can get access to its simple WYSIWYG editor to design a responsive website with no coding skills required. Qualified web developers, in their turn, can customize the selected themes via using their HTML, CSS and PHP knowledge.

The major Pinegrow features include:

  • Advanced Template Editing. The software provides a bunch of tools/features to deal with the website editing process with ease, such as a smart WYSIWYG tool, collection of web editing elements, content formatting features and more.
  • Content Block Customization. Pinegrow lets you pick and customize multiple blocks to form your web page layout and structure, making it possible to edit texts, modify code elements, add new properties, links and other elements.
  • Bootstrap/Foundation Support. The platform ensures advanced Bootstrap and Foundation support, offering a high end tool set required to control/adjust visual settings.

As to the pricing policy, Pinegrow somewhat differs from its competitors. The software offers monthly subscriptions that let you use the system for a limited time interval. Their cost starts from $10/mo. At the same time, the system sells one-time licenses you can use whenever you want. There are three of them here. The price of the most affordable package constitutes $49.

Semplice – WordPress Portfolio Theme Builder

Product Name:Semplice
Official Website:
Number of Websites:-
Free plan:No
Paid plan:From $99

Semplice – is a self-hosted niche website builder, which is used with the only goal – portfolio development and customization. The system offers a set of tools used for portfolio design. No coding skills are needed to work with the system, which makes it a nice solution for beginners, who have little or no web design expertise at all. The platform grants access to the source code, unlimited drag-and-drop tools, blogging and SEO features.

The list of Semplice benefits encompasses:

  • Easy Template Editing. The website builder has an intuitive dashboard, where you can access and edit pages all in one place, working with multiple elements – modules, content blocks and covers.
  • Unique Design Customization. The platform does not offer ready-made themes yet there is an opportunity to create unique website design from scratch, applying visual, image and animation effects.
  • Visual Content Editor. The service offers unlimited design customization options, letting users add and edit sections, customize margins, change fonts and background colour schemes, add buttons and images, use typography tools etc.

Semplice is a downloadable software, which is not subscription-based, however. Instead, the system makes it possible to choose from several lifetime versions. The cost of the cheapest package currently constitutes $99.

Elementor – WordPress Visual Editor

Product Name:Elementor
Official Website:
Number of Websites:4,519,504
Free plan:Free system
Paid plan:From $5/mo

Elementor – is a world-known WordPress plugin created for advanced web page development and customization. The platform offers multiple drag-and-drop options and a simple interface that lets newbies start professional web pages with no HTML/CSS coding knowledge required. The software currently powers millions of web projects around the globe, granting access to a broad range of editing features.

Some of the most remarkable Elementor pros are listed below:

  • Advanced WP Compatibility. The plugin is compatible with all WordPress templates – both free and paid, delivering access to impressive design tools, visual customization options, enhanced typography settings, interactive animation effects etc.
  • Inline Editing Support. Elementor allows editing the available content blocks and sections with no coding required, using over 80 design instruments.
  • Third-Party Integrations. The software makes it possible to integrate external add-ons and widgets to ensure advanced website functionality in terms of marketing, eCommerce, project promotion etc.

Elementor is absolutely free to download and install. This, however, restricts the freedom of design customization because of the limited integrated feature set. To make use of the advanced functionality of the software, you will have to pick one of three premium subscriptions. The most cost-effective solution is a Personal Plan, the price of which is $5/mo.

WooCommerce – eCommerce Plugin for WordPress

Product Name:WooCommerce
Official Website:
Number of Websites:37,447
Free plan:Free plugin
Paid plan:Hosting – from $2.95/mo

WooCommerce – is a feature-rich eCommerce plugin for WordPress, which allows starting all types of web stores, ranging from small web projects and up to large digital shops. This is an open-source shopping cart plugin that comes with numerous customizable mobile-ready eCommerce themes and high end design editing tools. The use of the plugin implies a certain web design background to launch feature-rich online stores.

Some of the most stunning WooCommerce merits encompass

  • Out-of-the-Box Functionality. The eCommerce plugin offers multiple niche-specific features required for professional web store development and customization, such as geolocation support, discount implementation, application of inventory management tools, checkout options etc.
  • Detailed Product Page Customization. The software allows creating and customizing products pages by uploading physical/digital items, adding descriptions, reviews, images, detailed settings etc.
  • Marketing Solutions. The system lets users control their web store parameters and statistics, create and promote product catalogues, set up search filter settings along with tax/shipping/payment details etc.

WooCommerce is completely free to download, install and use with web store development purposes. The software, however, requires hosting and domain name connection. The most preferable solution here is Bluehost, which is officially recommended by WordPress for quality website hosting. The cost of the cheapest Bluehost plan is $2.95/mo.

What Is Custom Built Website?

Custom web design means creating your future website style from scratch. In other words, you will need to hire a team of professionals who will redesign or create a new site and page layouts, animation, visual effects, fonts, etc. Web designers will also implement some of the UI/UX features, create custom forms and elements for the project, ensure website mobile adaptation, and other crucial aspects depending on your requirements or needs.

The approach will work out for business owners who wish to implement a unique and individual approach to customers offering exclusive features and website functionality. At the same time, the process is extremely time-consuming and expensive. Does it really necessary for smaller and simpler projects? Keep on reading the article to find the answer.

What Is the Custom WordPress Theme?

WordPress boasts the biggest hub of themes and templates. Users may opt for thousands of ready-made website layouts despite the niche or business they represent. All WP themes are developed by third-party or independent developers who make templates available for the public after the release.

WordPress Themes WordPress Themes

Some coders and programmers are ready to share their themes for free. Others introduce premium templates with a richer feature set, more up-to-date design, and other perks for a fixed fee. We will discuss the price a little bit further. All templates are available as a part of the open-source CMS meaning you are free to modify or customize them in case of PHP/CSS coding experience.

Moreover, any WordPress user has a chance to create his or her custom theme with the help of WordPress Codex. It provides a set of useful technical tips and instruments to design a website of your own. Unfortunately, the feature will never work for non-technicians and newbies while opting for ready-made templates is a faster and easier way to deployment.

While both custom build website and WordPress themes serve actually the same goals, this article is to stress the key advantages of both solutions as well as the main downfalls. Which one is better and why? Which path will meet your individual requirements in terms of budget or technical issues? Which one is better for newly established projects as well as for growing business? Let’s try to answer those questions.

Custom Web Design

When implementing custom web design, you actually get a website with features created from blank to meet your specific business goals. A website will feature a unique appearance with custom-made capabilities and functionality that are tested by the team of experienced professionals.

You may implement any form, element or block you want to have more users involved. The solution is good for growing companies and corporations looking for a strong web presence as well as powerful rebranding opportunities.

Custom Web Design Pros:
Custom Web Design Cons:
Unique Design and Functionality – custom-built websites are developed from the blank canvas. You will define the way it will look like as well as features it might have. None of your niche competitors will have the same site.
SEO Optimization – SEO is not only about editing URLs and meta descriptions as well as indicating focus keywords. Custom-built sites are more attractive for search engine crawlers. They love unique projects, which means higher SEO rankings in addition to proper content scanning.
Scalable Projects – a growing business never stops its development. It means you may need a fully-scalable website that provides fast adaptation with the up-to-date technologies ensuring smooth operation. Custom-built websites are more scalable if compared to custom WordPress templates.
Huge Pricing Tags – hiring a team of custom web designers will literally cost you a fortune. The price may range between thousands and hundreds of thousands depending on the project complexity and features you need to implement. Moreover, get ready to pay more every time you need to update your site as well as add new features or modify existing ones.
Time-Consuming Process – creating custom-built websites tales much time. The process consists of several stages including stereotyping, development, testing, maintenance, etc. The process may take up to several months. This will never work in case you crave for a fast deployment

WordPress Themes

WP themes are still the best bet for bloggers, small business companies and other website types that do not require extra complexity. There is no need to overpay or wait for weeks in case you want to launch a photographer’s portfolio or a small online store. WordPress themes have everything you might need to serve your goals in terms of customization, adaptation, SEO or content management.

WordPress Themes Pros:
WordPress Themes Cons:
Low Costs – WP themes are available for users with any budget. You may get a free template and customize it or opt for paid Premium themes that are still 30-50 times cheaper if compared to custom web design.
Fast Deployment – WP themes do not need any time for development. They come with ready-made layouts. All you need is to handle some baseline settings when getting started, add content, and go online with your ready-to-use website. The entire process will take you not more than a couple of hours.
Great for Newbies – no special skills or knowledge are required to work with WP themes. However, if you still want to get involved in PHP/CSS editing, templates will provide you with such an opportunity.
Flexibility – the range of themes is growing each month. Users may pick the one that suits their business and other needs. All templates refer to various categories from eCommerce, healthcare and B&B niche to eating out, portfolios, landing pages, one-page sites, and more.

Most Templates Look the Same – once the template has got public, any user is free to download it and customize. It means that your template may be used by thousands of website owners across the world. You should not expect design exclusiveness to stand out. On the other hand, users have enough tools and plugins to customize the existing layout.
Minimum Support – creating WP websites means you are actually on your own with millions of users like you sharing their experience on topical forums. This is actually the only source of info in addition to some independent video guides on YouTube while custom-built sites consider developers support on each stage of the development process.

Some may also say WP themes come with limited SEO optimization capabilities. The problem may be solved using different plugins. Moreover, we may come across numerous websites built on WP custom themes that have reached the top.

Which Is Better: WordPress Theme or a Custom Design?

25% of all websites on the web are built using WP themes. This fact proves that WP templates still work whenever you need to establish a solid online representation. Moreover, they fit users with any budget while custom web design is for those who ready to pay thousands of dollars. Let’s take a look at price tags and development costs.

WP Custom Theme Price

As we have stated before, users with limited budgets may opt for free templates in order to build a website at zero cost. The key problem is that practically all free themes have basically the same structure and typical layouts with no exclusive features to stand out in addition to thousands and millions of downloads. It means you will need to customize it somehow or have the website that looks the same as millions of others.

Premium and paid templates might be a good solution to this problem. They come with a more engaging design, up-to-date visual effects, different page layouts, and overall site structure. If you decide to choose a premium theme, it may cost you from $30 to $300. For that money, you get improved stability in addition to enhanced flexibility.

Custom Built Website Cost

Hiring a team of web designers is a much more expensive approach. You get a team of professionals who know all the latest graphical concepts and UI/UX trends as well as have a bunch of instruments to bring to life any design idea.

Experienced web designers use various graphic software as well as prototyping platforms not only to create a website structure but also to test how the features work and ensure the project’s smooth operation. The service is far from being cheap:

  • Hiring a full-cycle design agency will cost you from $3,000-$5,000 for a simple website with minimum ages and no special features.
  • A Fully functional website with options you need will cost you from $10,000.
  • Complicated projects start from $20,000 and higher.

Do not forget about website maintenance and support. You will need to pay for that separately. Moreover, further modifications or upgrades, which will be necessary at some point of the business development, will also cost you at least several hundred.

Of course, you may hire freelancers and cut down on web design expenses. However, working with freelancers comes with the lack of guarantees. You are responsible for all risks that refer to qualification, service quality, and other crucial issues.


While more and more sites appear on the web each day, there is always a place for custom web design. The option is the only chance for huge companies and well-established corporations to stand out. However, it makes no sense for smaller companies or individuals with simpler projects who only get started.

WP themes deliver a full set of features you may need from the start as well as to grow. They do not require any technical skills and are perfect for newbies. Users may save time and money, which might be a crucial factor for some companies.

Website builders appear to be another way to go online that is worth mentioning. Designed to help newbies create sites with zero technical knowledge in minutes, advanced software delivers ease of use thanks to WYSIWYG and drag-and-drop functionality, super easy integration, ready-made responsive templates packed with relevant features and add-ons. What is more important, website builders come as an all-in-one solution without the need to manage hosting, domain or security separately.

Simply choose the path that suits you the most and go online with your professional website!


About the Author

I'm Howard Steele, the founder and editor-in-chief of this website. With over 10 years of web building I know how complicated and tiresome this task can be for a non-IT person. Can’t decide which service to choose? Feel free to ask me for advice. Just describe your website needs, and I’ll gladly help you.

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