WordPress vs Custom Website Design – Summary
You should use WordPress if you have a limited budget but want to set up a website quickly and to maintain it yourself, without needing the help of your web developer.
You should use a custom website with coding if you want immaculate coding, with more security and flexibility, and can afford to pay your developer regularly for all website changes and updates.
A website is very important for a small business, and you know you should use the platform that suits your business best. If you want to build a website for your business, you have probably heard of WordPress.
WordPress is one of the best website platforms for small businesses, but is WordPress good for professional websites?
Or should you hire a web developer to build a website from scratch for you?
In this blog post, I’ll explore the pros and cons and pricing of both options, so you can make an informed decision about which route is right for your business.
What is a custom website?
With a custom website, you don’t have to depend on pre-built templates to create your website. You can get a tailor-made website that uses a design, color scheme, and layout that matches your brand story.
WordPress is a website platform and content management system with which you can create all types of websites for your business, without any coding. It started as a content management system only for blogs.
Now, you can create both simple one-page and 5-page websites, as well as large-scale, complex websites with WordPress.
WordPress only contains your content, and you will need to sign up for a website hosting platform and server that will host your website.
Website platform alternatives to WordPress for creating sites without coding could be Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, etc.
WordPress website pros and cons
The biggest advantages of WordPress websites are that they are:
- Easy to use and maintain
- Offer a lot of flexibility
- Quick to launch
- DIY, no coding knowledge required
The biggest drawbacks of WordPress websites are usually that they can be:
- Not as flexible as custom websites
- More vulnerable to crashes and hacks
Custom website pros and cons
The benefits of using custom websites are that they offer:
- 100% flexibility in terms of design and features
- Faster page loading
- More security
- More robustness
However, custom websites can be:
- Very expensive
- Time-consuming to launch
WordPress vs custom website – Design & flexibility
WordPress is an open-source content system, which means that anyone can create features to use in WordPress through plugins.
So you can add a lot of customization to your website by installing plugins that provide you flexibility.
Note that while WordPress has plenty of free plugins, you may have to pay for some of them. Usually, most plugins are freemium.
However, while WordPress provides more flexibility than other website platforms, you are still limited to a certain extent to the themes and templates you use. If you want to add very custom functionality, you might need to do some coding.
A custom-coded website, is, however, 100% flexible. You can add any feature, any design, and any functionality you want depending on the specific needs of your business.
So while WordPress offers the most flexibility and customization options among website builders, it can still be less flexible than a custom website that is coded from scratch.
WordPress vs custom website – Performance and security
WordPress plugins provide you flexibility, but they are also external coding, so they might also make your site less secure. Hackers also target WordPress sites sometimes to steal data.
One way to protect your site against that is always to use SSL encryption for your website, and make it HTTPS.
Both WordPress and custom websites can provide a fast, secure website with a good user experience.
However, the coding for custom website development is cleaner than the code for a WordPress website.
You can make easy UX improvements for your WordPress website, but custom websites can be specially coded for a fantastic user experience.
Custom websites do not have to process vast amounts of data from plugins, themes, and other components of WordPress websites. They can load the data more efficiently.
Custom websites are thus faster, more secure, and have a better UX than WordPress websites.
WordPress vs custom website – Cost
Cost is a huge factor for most businesses.
In a WordPress website, you pay for the website builder, theme, and hosting, so your costs depend on the size of your website and whether you have a free or premium theme. These costs are still much lower than what you pay a web developer for a custom-built website.
Average WordPress premium themes are priced around $99 annually, high-quality hosting like Siteground is around $300, and a website builder like Elementor costs $99.
If you can manage your website yourself, your annual website costs would be less than $1000.
The costs of creating and maintaining a custom website can run up to thousands of dollars, as you pay for the expertise of the web developer.
The content management system of WordPress is free, whether you use WordPress.com or WordPress.org.
If you use WordPress.org, the only costs you need to pay are for:
- Domain name
- Website builder
These also cost a few hundred dollars every month, so they are quite manageable.
On the other hand, a custom website may come with unlimited flexibility, but it also raises your costs significantly.
The more features you want, the more expensive it becomes, obviously. But even for simple websites, the cost of a custom website development can be $10000 or more.
While you might be able to find a cheap designer who will do it at a very low price, chances are they’re not going to do a very good job. Because for a custom website, you are not just paying for the site, you are paying for the developer’s professional knowledge.
Why should anyone offer their high-quality expertise for cheap?
If budget is a constraint, a WordPress website, even with a little custom coding, is much cheaper than a custom website created by a web developer.
WordPress vs Custom Websites – Search Engine Optimization
Organic traffic and SEO offer lots of benefits for small businesses, that include brand awareness, lead generation, and conversions.
It is one of the best ways for getting your website noticed by Google and other search engines.
Two major components of search engine optimization in terms of your website optimization are technical SEO, content SEO, and off-page SEO.
Content SEO, which mostly includes keyword research, content creation, and content optimization, on-page SEO, is the same for both WordPress and custom websites.
When it comes to technical SEO of your website with aspects like rendering and website architecture, custom websites have an edge over WordPress as you can optimize them to the maximum with proper coding.
However, this could also mean an increase in cost.
Besides, there are plenty of WordPress websites that can achieve high SERP rankings with search engine positioning strategies.
Whether you choose WordPress or a custom website eventually will depend on your customized SEO strategy.
In my opinion, you don’t need to get a custom website only for SEO as you can do a very good job of it with WordPress websites as well.
WordPress vs custom website – Maintenance
Creating a website is not a one-time activity.
You have to keep working on your website regularly, at least to add content and do your ongoing SEO maintenance.
WordPress has a bit of a learning curve, but it is still relatively easy to use and learn, even for beginners and non-techies. You can do most of your website maintenance yourself.
You can easily create and edit pages and blog posts, and even upload audio-visual content to the media library.
With a custom website, however, you will have to depend on your web developer to regularly update your website.
So not only do you have less control, the costs are higher as well.
If you want to have more control over the regular maintenance of your website and minimize maintenance costs, you should opt for a WordPress website over a custom website.
WordPress vs custom website – Time to launch
A custom website is built from scratch and takes time.
Depending on your designer’s experience, your website launch time may be less or more, but since it is not about customizing an existing content system and theme but building it from the ground up, expect it to take time.
You will have to spend hours discussing what you exactly want, wait for the developer to show you the website structure and wireframes, have lots of discussions, and then there is the actual coding time.
It could take months to launch a custom website.
WordPress vs custom website – Support
Even if you have an issue with your WordPress hosting or theme, you can contact your provider or your theme marketplace to help you troubleshoot.
Plus there are extensive communities and forums for WordPress online where you can find answers.
However, you will never have the one-on-one support from a coder and developer that you will have with a custom-coded website.
In a nutshell, if you are okay to maintaining your website and troubleshooting if required yourself, WordPress is a good option. But if you don’t have the time to deal with any website issues and can afford to outsource everything to a professional, definitely go for a custom website with coding.
Flexible WordPress theme vs custom website design
There are thousands of themes that you can use with WordPress. WordPress being an open-source platform, any developer can create a new theme or template that you can use for your WordPress website.
These themes can be free or premium, the ones offering more flexibility usually being paid ones.
Flexible WordPress themes are fantastic if you want to create a very good-looking, responsive, and customized website that matches your brand and business, relatively quickly. And all of it, without any coding knowledge and within an affordable price range.
Custom web design is more expensive and takes longer to build, but it also gives you much more freedom in terms of aesthetics and functionality – plus you get something that’s truly yours, completely unique.
A flexible WordPress theme that gives you the option to customize your site significantly is still cheaper than a custom website design built from scratch.
A custom website, however, could be made more unique, faster, and more secure.
A midway solution – Custom WordPress website design
A custom WordPress website design is when a professional customize an existing WordPress theme or template to create a bespoke WordPress website for you that perfectly matches your brand and your website objectives.
A custom WordPress website design combines the best of both worlds of WordPress themes and custom websites, as you get a very unique branded website without paying huge developer fees.
If you have the time to create your own customization, it is always possible, but there is a bit of a learning curve.
You will usually see WordPress website design packages that offer you different options and costs depending on the number of features and pages you want in your website.
Of course, you can also hire a developer to create a WordPress theme or template from scratch for you.
But then you might ask, if you are creating a website from scratch anyway, why not directly create a custom website with coding? Why use WordPress custom development?
The biggest answer is cost.
If a developer uses the basic content management system of WordPress and only creates a custom theme, then it’s less effort than if the developer has to create the entire platform of the website.
So often, a custom WordPress website design is the solution that many small businesses choose.
How much does it cost to have a WordPress website designed?
A professional may charge $3000-$5000 for a custom WordPress website design that meets your brand and business needs.
If you need a lot of added functionalities, the price will go up accordingly.
This is such a good breakdown Poulomi. I love using WordPress dot org because it works perfectly for me. However, I know its drawbacks. My developer even talked about setting up a shopping cart to sell through my blog once for a commission-free, full profit, fully customized experience. But all of those updates and edits you speak of are a bit rich and inconvenient for me and our readers. Dot org it is, for now.
Thank you, Ryan! Indeed, WordPress.org is the best because you get the CMS for free and you can use a powerful host for good performance. Custom websites are really better for much larger scale businesses and websites. Small-scale businesses really don’t have the need and money for that.
In fact, many large-scale businesses also use CMS platforms like WordPress for their business websites.
What about both. My website is built on WordPress, but I’ve just had the old, purchased theme replaced by a custom theme to make it less “sluggish” and more responsive to users’ needs.
Thanks for your commenting! Your point is exactly what I addressed in the section on custom WordPress website design. It is often a good solution to create only the theme instead of designing the whole platform from scratch.