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Bespoke Website vs Theme Website


When taking the plunge and investing in a new website for your business or for yourself, there are a number of things to consider before making a decision on the approach you wish to take, whether to invest in a completely bespoke website or, opt for an off-the-shelf theme; budget and time can often be the deciding factors.

To hopefully assist in this decision-making, this article gives an insight into the difference between both options and highlights the pros and cons for each approach which should be considered when proceeding with a project.


Bespoke Website

A bespoke website is created from the ground up and is completely unique to your business or yourself, design and development wise. A bespoke site naturally costs more than a pre-designed theme and in turn, due to the amount of work involved in creating, designing and coding everything from scratch, timeframes for a project as such can take a number of weeks.

Initially, time is spent getting to understand the business, the premise for the website and the goals for the potential audience that it will be attracting. This discovery phase will better inform the approach for the project and will help draw up a suitable sitemap, features list and outline the functionality that’ll need to be developed.

At each stage of your project, there is a consultative approach and we welcome client involvement in order to achieve the end goal. Projects are completed to a brief but it’s understood that potentially a lot of money is being invested and a collaborative approach is important.

Pros of a bespoke website

  • They’re easier to develop further in the future:
    • As custom code has been written for a bespoke site and the code isn’t dictated by a theme, or written by an external source, for future developments, there are no limitations as such, anything is (technically) possible.
  • It’s easier to achieve your exact requirements & you’ll end up with a polished end product:
    • Functionality and features can be tailored to your exact needs. Yes, plugins may be required for assistance if something is going to be overly complicated or time-consuming to develop from scratch, budgets permitting, but for the most part, you’re more likely to get a site that you’re completely happy with, with little compromise.
    • The end project is likely to be of a higher quality than a pre-designed theme. Bespoke sites allow for full control over the design, making it unique and personable to you or your business needs. There are no restrictions in terms of how a bespoke website is designed, from an aesthetic point of view.

Cons of a bespoke website

  • They’re more time consuming to create:
    • Unlike a pre-designed theme, there are a couple of extra phrases required for a bespoke project, Information Architecture and Design, both of which take time. Then, there is the site build itself, based on the approved designs; a full custom development can take some serious man-hours!
  • They can be costly:
    • Due to the amount of work and effort that goes into a bespoke project, the overall price of a project as such can be costly and in theory, the sky’s the limit!


Theme website

When creating a website using a pre-designed theme, you’ll undoubtedly end up with a smart end result within a smaller timeframe and at a lower cost, however, it’s important to consider that achieving exactly what you’re after, aesthetically and from a functional perspective too, could be more challenging than it seems.

If budget and time constraints are a deciding factor, then a pre-designed theme is your best bet. As there is no need for involvement from our design team (as the theme will have the style in place, other than your logo or any particular branding, e.g. colours and/or font styles), the development budget is spent installing and setting up the theme to suit your agreed sitemap and intended user journey, providing a base for content population.

Changes to the layout and functionality of a theme can be easier said than done and the need for bespoke custom code could become a necessity that you should be aware of. There are restrictions with a theme and the amount of editability is limited but more often than not, theme websites do a great job!

Pros of using a pre-designed theme

  • Affordable & quicker to create:
    • Once purchased and installed, it’s a case of removing, altering the content and the hierarchy of elements and features on the website in order to answer the brief for a project.
    • Unlike a bespoke project, websites built using a theme don’t require as much client involvement in order to get up and running, which in turn, saves on cost.
  • Mobile responsive & modern design:
    • The majority of the pre-designed themes available on the market now consider mobile devices which is a win!
    • In addition to being mobile compatible, there is a huge choice of themes online catering to every style or business sector. There is bound to be something modern, stylistic and suitable for your needs!

Cons of using a pre-designed theme

  • More compromises:
    • When using a pre-designed theme, site’s generally tend to be less flexible in terms of what can be achieved from an aesthetic point of view and the admin editor.
    • Comprises may need to be considered in order to achieve something close to what you desire.
  • It’s likely to use multiple plugins:
    • Theme websites can use a multitude of plugins in order to incorporate more technical functionality or to help a site work in a particular way. It’s recommended that plugins are updated by a developer in order to avoid breaking the website.
    • Plugins can slow down the speed of a site. There is also likely to be code that’s never used (due to pre-built functionality) and this can also contribute to speed limitations.

Both bespoke and themed websites have their advantages and drawbacks. At WDL we offer high quality, conversion-focused websites that fall in 3 categories; Bespoke, Custom and Custom Plus. Get in touch with us today to discuss which of our offerings is the best for you and your business.