Since first coming online in 2003, WordPress has grown from a simple and easy-to-use blogging platform into the most recognized and widely used open-source website builders and CMS (content management system). The simplicity of WordPress lies in its WYSIWYG builder and templated modular design. WYSIWYG stands for ‘what you see is what you get’. This format for web development functions off a recognizable editor system that is reminiscent of Microsoft Word and other popular word processing applications. This type of website design is more commonplace now, but at the time it was developed it represented a major democratization in web development. Today, the WordPress platform accounts for 34% of all websites, and has a 60% share of the CMS market. Every one of those WordPress sites operates off a theme which is one of three types – a Custom WordPress Theme, a Premium Theme, or a Free Theme. In this white paper we’ll be examining the differences between the first two theme types from a business perspective.
Building with WordPress: Plugins and Modules
Rather than requiring in-depth knowledge of HTML, CSS or other coding languages, someone using WordPress could create a professional appearing site if they knew how to use a word processor, and were able to navigate the streamlined WordPress interface. To further customize a website a user was able to stack modules for different elements of a web page (ex: Header, Body, Image Gallery), and further customize the look of their site by selecting one of many available pre-made themes to fit their website needs and desired aesthetic. This ease of use and high level of streamlined customization allowed WordPress to surpass its rival Blogspot and grow from a site builder that was popular amongst amateur content creators to one that could be used in a more professional capacity for businesses and organizations from small to large.
Plugins function on WordPress much in the same way as apps on a smartphone. The development of accompanying WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce for ecommerce, Yoast for SEO, Akismet for spam blocking, and Jetpack for security and site analytics have further enhanced the business functionality of WordPress. And, while the platform has gained much popularity in being accessible enough for the layperson to build a website, it still maintains a robust back end that allows for professional web developers to customize code, add features and tweak functionality to create truly unique websites. With all the available functionality that WordPress offers, it can be somewhat confusing to know what is the best approach to take in creating a website on the platform.
At Sayenko Design, we are often approached by businesses that have heard about WordPress, and its many advantages as a platform, but are seeking an answer to one of the most common questions in website design – should we find and purchase a Premium WordPress Theme or have a web design agency create a Custom WordPress Theme specific for our business?
Below, you’ll find a summary of the advantages and drawbacks of each approach, and be presented with a few use case scenarios to see how these differences impact the development and operation of business websites. If you are debating whether to go Premium or Custom with your company’s site, we hope the following helps you to better understand each approach and make a more informed choice.
Premium and Custom WordPress Themes Explained