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A few weeks ago I was scrolling through my social feed when I saw someone asking for help on a WordPress website and one of the first things I asked was “what theme are you using and where did you get it?”

First off, not all themes are created equal. They are built to function on individual Content Management Systems (CMS), with the most popular being WordPress. WordPress is our personal preference at Circle City Digital. We prefer it because currently, 25% of all active websites today are using WordPress, meaning it has a large support community and a large directory of plugins to utilize.

Before we get into the specifics of how themes work, we should start by covering the basics. A website theme is a framework for websites, which is similar to a house’s framing. Without a theme installed on a Content Management System also commonly knows as a CMS, the website will have no function.

The theme is where everything starts when creating a website. The theme is the underlying structure for the design and the content. WordPress does have free themes built within the CMS, but we recommend spending a few extra bucks to get a quality WordPress theme with extra functionality and pre-built pages that you can use to piece together your website in a custom-like fashion.

Pre-built themes are much faster to get up and running and manage, but they all have their limitations.  A good real-life example of a pre-built theme is a house that is built in a planned community or builder community. Yes, there are several models and house layout to choose from, but you can’t knock down walls or add on an extra bathroom. Pre-built themes are built to leverage their existing structure for budget, time and design efficiency.

On the other hand, you can build a custom theme that allows for limitless changes and functionality with specialization. With a custom theme, we can knock down walls, add extra rooms and even give you a three car garage. However, with these customizations, your budget is going to increase and time is sacrificed for the sake of design and development customization.

Ultimately, the decision between pre-built vs. custom themes comes down to a few answers.

  • Are you looking for a unique design built specifically around your business’ wants and needs?
  • Do you have the capital for such a design/build?
  • Is time a critical element in your website launch time frame?

With your new knowledge and these questions in mind, you are now prepared with the knowledge to choose how to choose the best theme for your company’s new website design.