WordPress is a popular content management system for developers worldwide, though it began in 2003 as a mere blogging platform. There are multitudes of free and premium WordPress themes and plugins available with nearly limitless customization options to fit your every need. Many developers use WordPress as a CMS, but often make the mistake of starting with a pre-built theme instead of creating one from scratch. Using a pre-built theme can have its benefits, but when it comes to designing a custom site, this choice almost always causes more work rather than making development easier.
Common Misconceptions About Developing From a Pre-Built Theme
1. It will save development time.
Seeing an already put together layout may appear to be a time saving solution, but in reality trying to customize a website that’s already built usually ends is more time spent trying to dissect how everything is put together. There are a million different ways to organize a WordPress site, with page templates, post types, and content areas created by plugins. As you are developing you may find that how the original creator organized the theme does not best fit your needs, and results in a website that is clunky and hard to use for both clients and web teams.
2. It will be easier than making a theme from scratch.
Delving into WordPress theme development can be daunting at first, but with hundreds of tutorials and resources, it’s not nearly as hard to learn as many think. Any developer who already has experience working with basic PHP, HTML, CSS, and jQuery can learn to 4develop a WordPress theme. One of the most challenging first steps is learning how to organize and work with a theme’s file structure. For this, blank themes can provide an excellent starting point to work from. A blank theme I commonly use is here: https://themble.com/bones/ and comes with all the basic files you need to get started.
On the flip side, it can be very overwhelming to sort through and make changes to an already developed theme, especially if the person sorting through it doesn’t understand the basics of WordPress theme development. And when creating a customized design, more time will be spent tearing down what already exists in the theme than it would take to just start building from scratch.
3. We need a responsive/fluid website
Yes, many themes offered from theme libraries are responsive to work across mobile devices and browser widths. However, the key to building a good responsive website is to start from the ground up. If you keep a responsive layout in mind as you design and develop, making elements fluid falls into place much easier. Making layout elements responsive shouldn’t be forced, but instead should come more naturally as the browser width gets smaller and isn’t something you can pluck from one layout and apply to another.