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Custom WordPress Development: Is It The Right Choice For Your Business Website?

Custom WordPress Development

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WordPress is one of the best website-building and content-management systems in the world. Without coding or web development knowledge, you can set up your WordPress site in a few hours using pre-made themes and templates from WordPress.

However, if you’re building a complex website or need more unique features, you might need to develop your website from scratch.

This is where custom WordPress developments come in.

This article discusses custom WordPress development and how it enables you to design your website more flexibly.

What is custom WordPress development?

Custom WordPress development is designing and developing a WordPress website from scratch without using a standard WordPress template.

When building a website on WordPress, you have two options: to choose a pre-made template or theme or develop the theme yourself. Pre-made templates are the easiest way to set up your WordPress business website. However, pre-made templates may not be enough when you want unique features on your site or want it to look different.

Developing a bespoke WordPress website means creating custom themes, plugins, and functionalities to give your website the desired outcome and performance.

custom wordpress development

Examples of custom WordPress websites

Here are some examples of custom websites developed with WordPress:

How do we know which theme the website is using, and if it’s a custom WordPress website coded from scratch?

There are 2 ways to know if a website is WordPress and which theme it is.

1. View page source

Right-click on anywhere in the post and search for ‘themes’

I did it for the Techcrunch website. You see the theme being used is ‘techcrunch’, which is a custom-made theme for the website.

View page source to check WP theme

2. Use an online theme checker

You can go to a website called What WordPress Theme is That and enter the domain name.

If the website is using WordPress, it will tell you the name of the theme being used.

Online WordPress theme checker

Difference between custom WordPress development and WordPress theme customization

The key difference between custom WordPress development and WordPress theme customization is in the theme and level of customization employed.

In WordPress theme customization, you use a pre-made theme and edit it to your preferences, while in custom WordPress development, you develop a completely custom theme that provides the structure and design you want for your website.

Developing a custom WordPress website from scratch needs much more coding work and is thus more expensive than customizing an existing theme.

If you have very specific needs for your website, special features, and functionalities you need, designing a custom theme is better than customizing a pre-made theme.

Accommodating all your desired functionalities within an existing theme may make your website slow or not user-friendly. Before going into “why you need a custom WordPress website,” you must understand there are two different WordPress platforms for developing a website.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Depending on your website needs, you can use the proprietary WordPress.com or the open-source WordPress.org.


WordPress.com is a version of WordPress that hosts your website and handles the site’s maintenance, updates, and security. It is an excellent choice for a hassle-free website creation experience with limited customization options.

It is more suitable for bloggers without heavy data activities on their websites. Signing up on WordPress.com, you’d receive 3 GB of free storage and a free domain name with wordpress.com as a subdomain. For example, weignitegrowth.wordpress.com.

However, you can use the paid package if you want a custom domain name and more storage space. Then, instead of weignitegrowth.wordpress.com, you’d have weignitegrowth.com.

But even then, you would be limited by features and not have the unlimited flexibility (the biggest advantage of WordPress) that you can get with WordPress.org.


WordPress.org is a version of WordPress that gives you complete control of your website, allowing you to pay for hosting and manage your site’s maintenance, updates, and security.

You can design your business website from scratch with page builders, build and install themes and plugins, and implement various features and functionality to suit your business needs. You can also install WooCommerce to set up an online store.

Related: WooCommerce vs WordPress

Difference between a custom WordPress website and a non-WordPress custom site coded from scratch

A custom WordPress website isn’t entirely custom, as you’re using WordPress’s existing open-source framework.

However, a non-WordPress custom website is coded from scratch. Here’s a table that better illustrates the difference between the two:

Custom WordPress Website Non-WordPress Custom Website
Built on the WordPress platform Coded from scratch
Built with PHP, HTML, CSS, and Javascript Built with any tech stack the developer chooses, which can be HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails, etc.
Maintenance and updates are tailored to the WordPress core Maintenance and updates depend on the development approach and technology used.
Requires less time and resources since WordPress has already provided the framework Requires more time and resources

Why you should use a custom WordPress website

There are many benefits to developing a custom WordPress website. Here are some of them:

1. Distinctive design

One of the key benefits of developing a custom WordPress website is that you end up with a unique website. You create a website that aligns perfectly with your brand identity and business objectives.

Unlike pre-made templates, which can limit customization, a custom website gives you complete control of the layout, color scheme, typography, and overall aesthetics.

You can leverage tools like Elementor, Divi, and Advanced Custom Fields to make your custom website distinctive and functional.

2. Enhanced SEO

WordPress has a good SEO structure, but with a custom website, you have even greater control over optimizing your website for search engines.

You can implement custom SEO features, such as optimizing metadata, creating SEO-friendly URLs, and improving site structure to optimize your website for better visibility in search engines.

3. Stronger security measures

Developing your website from scratch means you’d pay more attention to its security features beyond the basics provided by WordPress.

You create custom authentication systems and make regular security audits, implementing robust security protocols that protect your site from cyber threats and minimize vulnerabilities.

4. Scalability

Your business will evolve over time, and so should your website. With a custom WordPress website, you can build a scalable solution that grows with your business.

This becomes vital when adding new features, integrating third-party services, or accommodating increased traffic so your website can adapt to the upgrades.

5. Enhanced performance

The essence of custom WordPress development is often to enhance the website’s performance. This involves optimizing for speed, ensuring all web pages load fast, and giving the users a seamless experience on the platform.

Developing a custom website on WordPress allows you to eliminate unnecessary codes that appear on WordPress templates, which might limit your site’s performance. You also use web development best practices to ensure you have a website that performs optimally.

6. Brand differentiation

Ultimately, custom WordPress development enables you to build an outstanding brand. You eventually have a brand different from your competitor’s and create a memorable impression on your audience.

A custom website not only feels different to your audience but enforces your unique brand personality, giving your audience the impression you can go to any length to make them feel special.

Therefore, if you’re wondering how custom WordPress development helps your business, understand that it helps differentiate your brand from competitors and give your customers a memorable impression and experience.

why you should use a custom wordpress website.

How to develop a custom WordPress website

Here are vital steps you must take to design your custom WordPress website from scratch:

1. Define your goals

Even if you plan to hire a custom WordPress developer, you must first define the goals and requirements of the site. Identify what you intend to achieve with it and how you want your audience to feel while on the site.

This is also where you identify your target audience and their expectations of your site. Research your audience to understand their needs and preferences and, most importantly, know their critical questions.

While defining your goals, outline the features and functionalities you need on your website to actualize them. Do you want to integrate e-commerce, add contact forms, and use other features that help you collect your audience’s information and eventually sell it to them?

Pro tip:

A very important decision right now is how many features and functionalities you want for your WordPress website, and whether it needs custom development or customizing an existing theme is enough.

As mentioned earlier, custom WordPress development is much more expensive than creating a WordPress website based on a pre-made theme/ template, so you need to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine your goals and needs.

2. Design the user interface

Once you have a clear plan of what you want your website to achieve, the next stage is the user interface (UI) design. This is where you create wireframes and mockups to visualize the layout and structure of your website.

Create the UI/UX elements, such as navigation menus, buttons, forms, and other interactive components, with the idea of what you want the website to look like.

Ensure your UI/UX design is intuitive, user-friendly, and aligns with your brand identity. This is essential as the final outlook of your website is determined by the template created here.

3. Develop your WordPress site

This is a delicate stage in the website development process. Working with an experienced custom WordPress developer is essential to ensure your website aligns with the UI/UX design template.

Here, you will set up a development environment for your WordPress website. This involves installing WordPress on a local server or a staging environment. Then, based on your design mockups, develop custom WordPress themes that meet your desired requirements.

WordPress custom theme development is complex, especially for someone without HTML, CSS, and PHP knowledge. You’ll need HTML and CSS to design the theme layout and PHP to add custom templates and functions. However, this shouldn’t be an issue if you’re working with a WordPress developer.

To have a responsive website replicating the user interface design template, develop custom plugins with the required features and functionalities. Custom WordPress plugin development is as complex as custom theme development, but it’s necessary if your website needs some unique functions.

WordPress plugins are essential for optimizing your website’s performance, ensuring you have fast-loading and responsive pages across different devices and screen sizes.

4. Test your website

Before you launch your WordPress site, test it to identify and fix any bugs, errors, or compatibility issues. Test the site’s functionality across web browsers, devices, and operating systems.

Also, perform usability testing to ensure the website is easy to navigate and provides a seamless experience. You can do this by getting a small group of people from your target audience to use the site for a short while.

Furthermore, test for accessibility compliance to ensure your website is accessible to users with disabilities.

5. Launch your WordPress site

Once you’re satisfied with the design and functionality of your WordPress website, it’s time to launch it. To launch, you have to buy your domain name and hosting. Choose a domain name that aligns with your business name for seamless brand recognition.

Also, choose a reliable WordPress web hosting provider with a high uptime. This ensures your website doesn’t go down often, which might affect traffic and ROI. Web hosting platforms like SiteGround, Bluehost, Hostinger, and Kinsta stand out for WordPress hosting.

Most popular WordPress hosts

Best for performance

⭐ 4.3 on G2

30-day refund 

Best balance of price and performance

⭐ 4.4 on G2

30-day refund 

Best suited for limited budgets

⭐ 3.5 on G2

30-day refund 

Before you launch, configure your permalinks and transfer your website files from the development environment to the live server. Then, test the live website properly to ensure every button, web page, and feature is working before you make it publicly accessible.

6. Maintain and update the site

Custom WordPress website development doesn’t stop at launching the website. You must regularly monitor and maintain the website for performance issues, security vulnerabilities, and updates.

WordPress regularly updates its platform, and since you are using custom plugins, you need to update them constantly to ensure compatibility with new WordPress versions.

Also, you must regularly back up your website to prevent data loss. Take note of user feedback, respond accordingly, and make improvements to enhance the overall quality of your website.

You could also opt for managed WordPress hosting, where your hosting provider takes care of all the updates and maintenance for an additional fee. Kinsta is particularly good for that.

Best managed WordPress hosting

Dedicated & customized site management

⭐ 4.8 on G2

30-day refund 

Performance-driven automated updates & maintenance

⭐ 4.3 on G2

30-day refund 

Value-for-money automated updates & maintenance

⭐ 4.4 on G2

30-day refund 

The cost of developing a custom WordPress website

It costs between $15,000 and $85,000 to develop a WordPress website, depending on the complexity of the website and whether you’re hiring a WordPress development company, a freelancer, or an in-house developer.

If you’re hiring a company or freelancer, their region plays a vital role in the cost quotation you get. For example, if your WordPress developer is from a different region, you’d pay a different fee than you would if they were from your region.

Also, it would cost you less to develop a simple blog site than a complex website with custom features like e-commerce capabilities, custom forms, membership systems, custom visuals, animations, etc.

Challenges you might face when developing a custom WordPress website

Developing a custom WordPress website isn’t a walk in the park. You’d face challenges, and your ability to handle them effectively will determine the success you’d achieve.

Here are some common challenges you might face when developing a custom WordPress website:

1. Data-related problems

One of the critical challenges custom WordPress developers face is the site failing to connect to the database. This might happen for different reasons, such as a disruption in database connectivity, data loss or corruption, using the wrong info to connect, or issues with the hosting provider or server.

To avoid these issues, ensure the correct data gets uploaded to the server and use a reliable web hosting provider like Hostinger or Siteground. Also, every data migration process must be monitored to ensure complete and accurate data is uploaded to the server.

2. Plugin integration

There are tons of plugins on WordPress. But when developing a custom website, you’re most likely creating a custom plugin as well.

The problems developers face here result from plugin compatibility. This is because sometimes plugins can conflict with each other or with WordPress core, leading to unexpected behaviors or errors.

Also, poorly coded plugins can significantly impact website performance, leading to slow load times and poor user experience.

Make sure to minimize the use of plugins to only those that are necessary or well-optimized.

3. Slow website load times

You may want a visually appealing, complex, and sophisticated website, but for user experience and SEO, you also have to ensure it’s responsive and fast.

Slow website load times can result from unoptimized code, large media sizes, excessive HTTP requests, or server issues.

To address slow load times on your custom website, optimize your site assets, implement sound caching systems, and minimize the use of external or third-party add-ons.

How to find the right custom WordPress development partners

Custom WordPress website development is a complex process. Besides creating a user interface design, you’d need to create custom WordPress themes and plugins.

Because of the complexity of creating custom WordPress sites, you might want to hire a custom WordPress development company to develop your site. Here’s a simple process you can use to find the right company for your website development:

1. Know what you need

Before you set out to find a custom WordPress developer, you must understand what you need. This will help you find a developer who can deliver.

Determine what you want in your website and the level of customization needed. Going for a highly experienced developer might be too expensive if you want a small and simple website. Also, consider your goals, budget, and timeline.

2. Research and shortlist potential partners

Once you’ve identified what you need, look for companies or freelancers that offer custom WordPress development services.

You can search online through freelance platforms, WordPress-specific job boards, business listing platforms, etc. You can also ask for recommendations from colleagues, friends, and industry peers who have previously worked with WordPress developers.

According to Hostinger, some of the best custom WordPress development agencies are XWP, WPRiders, DevriX, WebDevStudios, Crowd Favorite, etc. If you’re going for a freelancer, you can find one on Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr.

Make a shortlist of the best partners and evaluate them according to your needs.

3. Evaluate experience and expertise

Once you have a shortlist of companies and freelancers that offer custom WordPress development services, evaluate their experience and expertise.

Look for developers with a strong understanding of WordPress core functionality, theme development, plugin development, and customization capabilities. Examine their past projects and see if they’ve worked on something similar to your project.

4. Discuss development cost

When you find a developer with the skill set and experience you want, the next thing is to discuss the development cost.

Some companies or developers offer post-site development services, such as maintenance services, upgrades, site migration, etc. Discuss the cost according to your needs and reach an agreement.

5. Sign necessary documents

The last stage after an agreement has been reached is to formalize it.

This is where you provide the contract detailing the scope of the work, payment schedules, expected deliverables, and other essential details. The developer or agency must also sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which prohibits them from sharing sensitive information about your project.

how to find the right custom wordpress development partners

How can you develop a custom WordPress theme?

To develop a custom theme on WordPress, here are simple steps to follow:

  • Set up your development environment
  • Create the basic theme structure
  • Convert your mockups or wireframes into a proper theme design
  • Develop theme templates
  • Customize the theme
  • Test and optimize the theme


Custom WordPress development offers extended flexibility and customization options, helping you establish a unique and compelling online presence.

While it’s easier to set up a WordPress website with a pre-made template or theme, developing your site from scratch means you determine the level of customization to give it.

You can work with a custom WordPress developer to navigate the complexities of creating a site from scratch on WordPress.

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