Theme vs Custom Design

Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Blog

re: Website Magazine, “Benefits of Using WordPress Themes in Place of a Custom Web Design“, by Milan Jovanovic

Continuing our fight against misinformation…

Milan starts off with a good premise, that templates don’t have to look like everyone else’s designs, but then he goes astray by spreading misinformation about “premium themes”…

The great thing about premium themes is that you will be guaranteed that you will be the only person using that specific theme.

Um, tell that to RocketTheme, Web-Dorado, ElegantThemes, etc., etc.  One of the best definitions of “premium themes” can be found here, at where you will notice that no such guarantee is mentioned or implied.

A premium theme is one that you pay for and generally offers more features and built-in flexibility than “fremium” themes, but no exclusiveness is implied by the term “premium”.

Before I go any further, let’s clear up the confusion between “themes” and “templates” and “designs”.  In general, there is no difference between a template and a theme – they mean the same thing, unless you are working in a WordPress environment, in which case “template” becomes a more specific aspect of your “theme”.

Both themes and templates are ways of offering cookie-cutter tools for designs.

OK, now on with tearing poor Milan’s article apart…

Custom built websites are quite expensive with figures ranging from $5,000 and $50,000.

As a web developer, I think those figures look great and I hereby appoint Milan as “Web Pricing Dictator” and all clients should readily heed his guidelines!  🙂

In fact, ALL websites are “custom”, since the logo, text and many images used in any particular theme (premium or freemium) are going to vary from website to website.  But, we get it – by “custom”, Milan means not using a CMS, though he does not specify whether he is also excluding other frameworks such as Laravel, Yii, CodeIgniter, etc.

But still, most of those sites are getting built from between $1000 and $7500 or so.  I don’t know where Milan is getting his figures, but I’ll bet he’s never earned even the lower figure on a custom site yet, just based on his apparent knowledge.

Most of the themes are customizable.

This is likely to confuse some people, so let’s straighten this out – ALL themes, whether WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or other framework, are customizable.  Some have built-in customization features while others may require some coding, but they ALL can be customized.

All in all, when editing your website with plugins, you should remember that the use of too many plugins will cause your website to load slowly.

“Too Many”?  Drinking “too many” glasses of water can kill you. So what? You could have “too many” of anything in a website, custom or CMS and cause problems. While true enough, it’s a non-issue. Actually, it isn’t even technically true, because plugins are supposed to only load when needed. Unfortunately, most plugin authors are either careless or uneducated about this not-so-minor detail.

With the custom websites, you should be prepared to part with at least $2,000, which you spend on the content management system (CMS), which depending on the one chosen, can be difficult to learn and easy to get dated.

Poor, poor Milan seems terribly confused now.  A “custom website” does not require a CMS at all.  In fact, they are generally crafted using special text editors for coding, like Netbeans, phpStorm, Dreamweaver, etc.

I’ve got things to do, so I’ll hurry and finish this – Milan goes on to spread more disinformation about responsive websites.  In fact, when writing a custom site (i.e.: no CMS), developers often use frameworks like Bootstrap, to make coding for various screen sizes (not just the two Milan mentioned), a snap.

I do agree with Milan that a CMS is generally a much better way to go than a custom website, especially for any small business.  And I’ll add that WordPress has become the premiere CMS and the one I usually recommend.   I even agree that the Divi WordPress theme (& its plugin tool) are great, but so are the many other themes from

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