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Free vs Premium vs Custom Made WordPress Theme

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When it comes to the most popular CMS in the top 100 websites* and choosing the way your site/blog/online store looks, you have 3 options:

  1. Grab multiple free themes and stick with one.
  2. Demo multiple premium theme and settle with one.
  3. Order a theme made just for you.

What’s the best option?

Usually the right answer would be free or custom made. Let’s go over some reasons behind saying such a thing and making all premium theme developers pour hot coffee on us.

Free themes are great because you can try as many as you like and then move on to doing whatever you need to do: focus on creating awesome content, promoting your site etc. If the content is viral it will not make a difference if you paid 30-50$ for a theme or 0$. People will still like it, comment on it, share it, etc, which will help you gain recognition, earn trust, authority and all that. After that, you can decide on creating a theme tailored to your style, your clients and your product or service.

Why is a custom theme better than a premium one?

There is one major thing that we don’t like about premium themes: excessive code. It’s not the developers fault. Because everybody wants to sell as many themes as possible, they try to create the theme as flexible as possible. Therefore, the user has many options available to configure and customize the theme.
And here lies the problem: this advantage turns into a disadvantage.

All that customization comes at a price: much more sql queries, inline css, and scripts laying in the head or footer. And of course, a style.css file which is perhaps twice as big as it should be.

So what?

Well, this means 3 problems:
– speed: your website loads slower
– optimisation: do you think all that code there is good?
– plus, you are not really unique: changing the font, a color and maybe moving the sidebar doesn’t really make you stand out, does it?

*One thing to add here though. In case you are trying to create your first online store, then a premium theme made for one of the top plugins would be a better idea than a free one.

What does a custom theme look like?

Well, the custom theme has the options YOU want and need! Then it should be SEO friendly (not SEO Ready like we said before). And finally, it should look smashingly and custom tailored for your audience and your product or service. Perfect combo.

But the most important part…

We are big believers in conversion optimization. This means that once a site is “done” the work doesn’t stop there. You put it out there, get traffic and study the users. After collecting enough data you start changing parts of your site (text, photos, colors etc) to improve it. You cannot do this with a free or premium theme (unless you have a developer standing by in which case it would be better to create a custom theme).

So there you go, if you want to start small or you really have no idea if “this online thing” is going to work, then go for WordPress and find a free theme. After things start picking up, order a custom theme (shameless plug: you can call us for that) and meet your online success.

*Source: http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/04/11/wordpress-completely-dominates-top-100-blogs/

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