Website Development: Custom vs Customized
Building a new website or redesigning your website can be a daunting task.
Your website is the front door to your business, and you want to put your best foot forward. Your site must be responsive and present well on all device types, tablets, desktops, and phones. The site must look attractive and be easy to navigate, enabling visitors to find the information they are looking for quickly.
These days, businesses have two options when it comes to their website: a WordPress site or a custom build. Today, we’re going to dive into the pros and cons of each of these solutions to try and help you determine which route is best for you.
So, what is WordPress exactly?
WordPress is far and away the most popular content management system.
(A content management system, or CMS, enables your employees to easily make changes to the content of your website without the need to involve a developer. You don’t want to have to call your website developer any time you need to make a small change or add new content. An intuitive CMS saves time and money.)
Software developers like FHGs can build a custom theme or customize an existing theme to provide a unique look and feel beyond standard WordPress themes.
If changing the configuration doesn’t meet your design goals, themes can often be used as a starting point for customizations that can create a more unique look and add additional functionality as well.
Now that we know what WordPress is, what are the benefits? And where are its drawbacks?
Pros of WordPress
Ease of Use
WordPress has a very intuitive user interface that enables non-technical users to be able to learn how to make changes to the website on their own.
Large Community for Support
Because WordPress is so popular, there are also a ton of resources for users to get assistance. Just go to YouTube and search for “how do I ???? in WordPress” and there will most likely be a bunch of instructional videos to help.
Using a pre-existing CMS saves a lot of money upfront because you don’t need to build core functionality (such as posting, media galleries, and menu settings) from scratch. WordPress provides a starting platform with all the tools you need to hit the ground running, including pre-built themes and templates.
Cons of WordPress
Wait, how can a WordPress site have both cost savings and cost increases?
Great question. And the answer is that it depends on your requirements and your end goal.
Customizing a theme or building a custom theme is a larger development effort so there will be an increase in cost. Using a standard theme and changing the configuration is less effort and therefore a reduced cost compared to custom.
Be Wary of “Breaking” Themes
When making changes to a theme that is purchased, you should be careful not to “break” support from the theme developer. Companies that develop WordPress themes offer ongoing support for these themes. When updates to the theme are released by the developer, they can be applied to your site to resolve issues with the theme or add functionality.
If you customize a theme is some ways, you will not be able to update your theme when changes are provided by the original developer as the updates released may overwrite customizations that were applied.[/one_half][/full_width_section]
Cookie Cutter Design
One complaint about WordPress is that many feel all WordPress sites look the same. This can be helped by customizing a pre-existing theme to configure something unique without building a full custom solution, but you still are required to work within the limits of the theme.
Because WordPress is so popular it makes an attractive target for hackers. If a hacker can develop an exploit for WordPress, this exploit could be used on a large number of websites. It is very important to update WordPress whenever security patches are made available to keep a site secure.
A custom site can be built using a variety of different methods, from a completely ground-up build to a headless CMS base. The idea behind custom-building your website is to create something that works for you, rather than something you need to workaround. Because of this, its benefits are fairly obvious.
Pros of Custom
The advantage of building a full custom site is that you are not limited by some of the constraints of a product like WordPress. You can design the site to look very different from the “standard” WordPress themes and you can even add custom functionality specific to your business.
Building a website from the ground up allows you to create custom workflows specific to your business needs. For example, if you need a specific user flow.
Cons of Custom
Building a full custom website can be a much larger development effort when compared to a theme-based CMS like WordPress, thus leading to a higher cost.
One of the biggest downsides of building a custom website is the need for a development resource that can make updates, fix bugs, and implement security patches.
Before deciding which route to go, it is a good idea to talk over your options with someone knowledgeable in website development that isn’t biased towards one approach. You should weigh your functional requirements, design requirements, and budget against the various approaches for building or redesigning a website and choose the path that best meets your business goals.