So, you’ve decided it’s time for a website overhaul. If you’ve been talking to a prospective new development team, you’ve most likely been hearing one of two recommendations for your new site’s framework: WordPress or Custom.
There are pros and cons to both options; knowing which is the best fit for your company will ultimately ensure you get a website that furthers your business objectives, both with the site’s initial launch and as it evolves. Here are some key factors to consider when making the choice:
We’ll discuss the points above in this article. But first, let’s define the difference between a WordPress site and a Custom framework.
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that allows developers to put together a website using pre-built code and pre-designed templates. The platform allows an organization to get a website online at a budget-friendly cost and with a quick turnaround time — as long as the website is designed and built with relatively strict adherence to the pre-built code and design, without little modification to functionality or overall look and feel.
A Custom website framework is just what the name implies: the website design and code is built and customized to the exact specifications an organization wants and needs. The costs can be higher (but aren’t always!) and yes, there is generally a longer design and development time involved. Some benefits of a Custom website include site speed, robustness and enhanced user-friendliness.
What does this mean to you? Read on to learn the benefits and pitfalls of both WordPress and Custom website development.
Your brand is unique. It is the personality and soul of your organization; it is everything your company stands for and everything it delivers. With your company website being your digital calling card and the hub of your digital marketing efforts, it should go without saying that it should be designed and built to be as unique as you.
As a Custom website is designed specifically for your business and from the ground up, you can rest assured that there is no other company out there doing the same thing. The website design should be created to be consistent with your company’s brand guidelines and all other marketing collateral.
WordPress frameworks and templates are not designed from the ground up to be consistent with your company’s brand. Rather, they are retrofitted both design-wise and programmatically in an attempt to create a branded website, and the results are often a “sort of” branded website, one that has partially branded content but an overall design and framework that is anything but.
As WordPress themes are pre-designed and sold to the masses, there’s a pretty good chance that at least one other organization is using the theme — most likely quite a few more. If you’re looking to stand out from your competitors, you may want to consider a custom framework that is designed and built to be unique to your company’s brand and online operations.
There are a lot of WordPress themes out there, many of which are free and many that come at a very low cost. But, buyer beware. The initial theme purchase and cost of getting your new WordPress site up and running is just the beginning. Unless you intend to use your new theme as is and add no additional features or functionality, (forms, a photo slide show, ecommerce, etc.), you will most likely have to buy additional WordPress plugins, some of which can be $100 or more and some of which require an ongoing monthly subscription fee for use.
Additionally, the costs associated with maintaining a WordPress site do not end after the initial launch. WordPress requires regular updates to the framework and plugins in order to keep the site running smoothly. Without these consistent and constant updates, the site slowly (or quickly) begins to break down until at some point the site no longer presents a it should, if at all. Developer fees for maintenance vary, but we have had disenchanted companies come to us complaining of $5,000 plus that their prior developer wanted for general monthly maintenance, for pretty basic websites.
Custom websites also have maintenance fees. Annual website hosting fees, domain registration fees and security certificates are typical fees associated with both Custom and WordPress sites. However, Custom website frameworks do not use plugins. They also do not utilize a pre-built framework that is constantly being updated which in turn requires constant updates to the site’s framework. The Custom sites we build have a minimal to no monthly maintenance fees, only the annual hosting and domain associated costs.
So at the end of the day, the initial cost for Custom may be more but the ongoing (and ultimately total) cost may be much, much less.
WordPress sites are down and dirty: they can be retrofitted with a few design elements and up and running in a matter of hours. They require no planning in terms of design or development and they require very little actual design or development. That said, they can be launched quickly. If you are looking to have a website live within the week, WordPress is probably your best choice.
A Custom framework, on the other hand, takes time to implement. Our process for implementing a Custom website includes a planning phase, a creative/design phase, a development phase and a testing/debugging phase. And these phases require thought, research, planning and time. On average, our Custom websites take 3 weeks to 6 months to implement, depending on the scope of the website. If you have the time, Custom is certainly an option.
A good design and development team, when tasked with implementing a custom site, can create and code pretty much whatever you want and need. Programmatic features can be built that may not be available as a pre-built piece of code. A custom development team is not limited to what’s already available out there; if you can dream it, they should be able to build it for you.
With WordPress, the development team is limited to what the WordPress framework and chosen plugins allow.
Have a special requirement that’s specific and unique to your company’s offerings or online operations? Custom is the way to go.
So who makes these WordPress themes and plugins? There is a slew of WordPress theme developers on the planet and most of their themes are sold through a theme database site like Envato or Theme Forest. And unfortunately, once you have purchased your chosen theme or plugin, the tech support from the developer of the theme or plugin becomes next to impossible if not nonexistent. Have a problem with the theme you bought? Too bad, hope you can figure it out. And chances are the WordPress developer you hired has no clue how to fix the issue because he didn’t make the theme, either. Troubleshooting and technical updates become a time consuming nightmare, one that your developer will most likely charge you for as much as it takes to fix, if it can be fixed at all.
With a Custom site, the development team dealing with technical updates and troubleshooting issues should ideally be the team that built the site. As they wrote the code, they should be able to make any technical updates without problems.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea of the benefits and pitfalls of both using a WordPress and a Custom platform for your website. If you’d like to discuss this more, get in touch.
We are a team of nimble creatives and developers in Reno, Nevada. We design, create, code and produce effective work that gets our clients noticed and produces measurable results.
We approach all of our projects and client relationships with a set of guiding principles; these are the core values that help to make us different and better.