Build it from Scratch or Customize a Template?

James recently did a little research on what other graphic designers and WordPress site developers are charging for their services. It’s good to know what the competition is doing and how we compare.

He noticed some wild pricing extremes. One site offered themes at two different rates, one low, one high. There didn’t seem to be much difference between the two services, either.

I offered the suggestion that the more expensive option probably meant the designer built new themes from scratch versus customizing template themes.

This prompted more questions. “Why reinvent the wheel each time?” James was perplexed. “There are thousands of templates. How many ways can you make something look different above the fold? Why push this to customers when they could save money on templates and still have a unique site?”

They were good questions. Why would anyone want to start fresh each time and charge clients when they could easily take a pre-existing theme and slice a unique design over the layout or customize certain layout areas?

Maybe I’m missing something, but I can’t see enough value to justify the cost and effort.

What Do Customers Want?

It’s often said there is nothing new under the sun. This is especially true for themes. There are only so many ways to arrange the layout within a given space before you begin to repeat yourself.

A good designer can take any pre-existing theme on the market and make it look unique and different. There’s no reason to spend thousands of dollars having a theme built from scratch when there’s probably already a template out there built to the specs you seek.

Consumers – the people who are going to buy from you – care about appeal, quality, credibility, and solutions. They don’t care if the RSS button is two pixels lower than the next guy’s site. They don’t care if the sidebar column is a little wider or a little narrower.

Buyers care about a trustworthy-looking business that sells something they want.

The Best Car on the Lot

Think of cars. What attracts buyers? The shape, the color, the sleekness, the emotional feeling that comes from a glance at a Solstice or a big-ass Ford 350. Those features invite drivers to step closer, maybe open the door, even sit inside.

The look encourages people to linger and buy. How the car is built doesn’t really matter.

When was the last time you got down on all fours in a car dealer’s parking lot, laid down on the ground and slid under the frame to see where the gas tank was located? When you bought your last car, did you care whether the tank was three inches to the left or 1.5 inches to the right?

Of course not. You bought the car because it looked nice, felt good and drove well. It responded to your needs.

Car manufacturers don’t built new models from scratch every time. They don’t invite a customer into their factory and build a car just for that person. Car manufacturers use existing models and make them better, shaping new designs. They improve on what has already been built.

Why? Because it saves time and money, and it gets the job done.

I’m sure purists will be quick to step up and defend building new themes for each client that comes along. They’ll say that unique is the only way to go, top to bottom, head to toe.

Remember: There’s nothing new under the sun.

Tweak to Your Specs

With all the site themes and templates out there – and there are thousands – you should be able to find a theme with good coding and the features you need for your site. With a creative design and a little bit of customization, your site will look perfectly unique.

Maybe you can’t find exactly what you want in a site layout. We still bet that you can find something close to your vision – close enough that you can use it as a base and have it tweaked just right.

Don’t have a site built from scratch if an existing model gives you the foundation of what you want. It just makes sense to save some serious time and money.

Don’t get me wrong. Creating themes from scratch does have its place. If you’re a developer and have a great idea for a layout or feature that you haven’t yet seen after looking at what’s out there, then sure. Go ahead. Build from scratch. Have fun.

But if you’re just Joe Average looking for a nice site that brings in business, ask yourself if you really need to spend that much money for unique framework. Wouldn’t your money be better spent on an appealing, credible, trustworthy image instead?

We’re always seeking ways to help people do better in business, save money and still have a professional site. We’re in this business to help clients get what they need and earn revenues from it without draining their cash flow.

We’ve never suggested building a theme from scratch simply because it doesn’t make financial sense.

So before someone tries to convince you that a unique theme is the best way to go and that investing thousands of dollars in moving around the layout is going to make a difference, stop. Consider carefully. Think about your goals. Figure out the best areas to spend your money for the most returns.

Then figure out whether a from-scratch theme will have the most impact on your sales – or your wallet.

Post by Agent X

Agent X is the name many mysterious and intriguing people take on when they guest post at our site. Their mission is to slip in like a thief in the night, leave you with entertaining, valuable and useful content, and slip away again - without getting caught.