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WordPress Guide to Premium Themes vs Custom Themes

By May 25, 2021October 16th, 2023No Comments

If you are looking to build or create a WordPress website, you’ve probably come across this word: themes. But what is a theme? Themes form the basis of the design or layout of a WordPress site. Think of it as the foundation of how your website will look and function. There are two main types of themes: premium themes and custom themes.

Whether you are just starting out or are wanting to upgrade an existing website, themes are very important. If you already have a website that you want to update it is important to know what type of theme you currently have, and if you are planning on building a website to know what type of theme you want.

Each type of theme has different pros and cons. This blog takes a look at premium and custom themes, the advantages of each, and will help you know what type of theme will best meet your needs.

What is a premium theme?

A premium theme is a pre-built website design. This means that someone has already designed the look of the site, and you simply have to purchase it and add the content. Some of the most popular premium themes are Divi, X Theme, Avada, and Jupiter, although there are many more.


Premium Themes vs. Custom Themes

Some pages created with the X theme.

Premium Themes vs. Custom Themes

A home page created with the Avada Theme.

What is a custom theme?

A custom theme is a framework built from scratch to meet your designs. This allows you to have complete control over the design and function of your website. It will be created to meet your every need and vision. A custom theme is definitely the way to go if having full control over the design is the most important thing to you.

What are the advantages of premium themes?

A premium theme allows you to get started quickly. You simply have to purchase it, install it on your website, and then you can begin to add content immediately afterwards. Premium themes are an easy, ready-made option.

There are a lot of different options for purchasing premium themes as well. There are websites, such as, that allow you to browse through hundreds of premium themes and find one you like.

Premium themes are also budget friendly. If you do not have a lot of money to spend, or if money is your main concern, then a premium theme might be a good option for you.

What are the disadvantages of premium themes?

When you buy a premium theme, it comes bundled with a variety of features. This allows you to find a theme with features you like, but it also means that if you you choose not to use certain features, the code for that feature is still on your website. All this extra code creates a heavy load and as such a premium theme generally makes your website load more slowly.

With a premium theme, your website will only have the features available in the theme demo. What you see is what you get with a premium theme, meaning it is difficult to make drastic changes to a premium theme. So if you are looking for customization, you might want to think about a custom theme.

What are the advantages of custom themes?

With a custom theme, you get to design your website so that it looks exactly how you want it to look. This gives you control over the outcome of your website. Having a custom theme means that your site will be unique to you and your company.

Since it is custom, you also get to choose the specific features you want your website to have. This means that there won’t be any unwanted features on your website, which thereby allows your website to load faster than a premium theme would.

What are the disadvantages of custom themes?

Since a custom theme is created from scratch, it takes custom development to change or rebuild any of your site’s core infrastructure.

Custom themes vary in cost, but they generally cost at least twice as much as a premium theme to build out a website. Again, since it is being developed from scratch, it also takes about twice as long to build as a premium theme. On this note, it is important to consider what matters most to you: cost or design. This may help you make your decision.

Where can I find a premium theme?

If you have decided to use a premium theme, a good place to start is on either Themeforest or at

How do I build a custom theme?

In order to create a custom theme, you are most likely going to need to hire out the design and creation of the website.

ThemeSupport specializes in creating custom websites. Here’s a brief summary of how the process goes when we are building a website:

The first thing we need to receive before we can create a custom theme are mockups. A mockup is an illustrated version of how you want your website to look and function. Most mockups are created by designers using mockup tools. (Examples included below.) You will work with the designer on how you want your site to look and function.

After your mockups are complete, send them to ThemeSupport. We will then create a draft of your website based on the designs you send us, and work from there until the product looks and functions exactly as you want.

If you are a digital marketing agency and have a client who wants to create a custom theme, we offer white-labeled development services. There will be more information on this below.

Please contact us with any of your questions about building a website by either leaving a comment below or entering your information into the sidebar on the right.

What are some mock-up tools?

Some of the most common and popular tools for creating mockups are Photoshop, InVision, and SketchUp. Each tool allows a designer to create a prototype of your website based on your specifications. Mockup tools allow whoever is designing to more easily make adjustments in the prototype before your website is under construction.

Below are some of the main features of each mockup tool.



Premium Themes vs. Custom Themes

Adobe Photoshop allows you to create the design of your website and save it as a document. Photoshop is great because it works with almost any type of image file, but the main file type is a PSD (Photoshop Document). A PSD allows you to individually edit each layer of your document, as opposed to most image files which only have one layer. Another plus is that many developers, including ThemeSupport, specialize in PSD to WordPress development. Photoshop is a great tool for designing, but it does not allow your document to be interactive as it would on a real website.



Premium Themes vs. Custom Themes

InVision allows you to make your mockup interactive. It can also work with Photoshop so that you can easily transform your 2-D file into an interactive prototype. An interactive prototype means that you can see how your website is really going to function. For example, in an interactive prototype, you can click on the tabs in the tool bar, and it can take you to the different pages on your website even though the site isn’t actually up and running yet. This type of interaction is so important because you can see how your site is going to function and work when it’s built, and identify problems early on.



Premium Themes vs. Custom Themes

SketchUp allows you design in 3-D. Although most websites are currently still 2-dimensional, SketchUp lets you turn a 3-D design into a 2-D document. This type of document is the mockup you’ll send to a web developing company, such as ThemeSupport, in order for them to start building your website.


Premium Themes vs. Custom Themes

This is an example of a website mockup.

What is white-labeling WordPress development?

White-labeling is when a company creates a product, such as a website, that another company can rebrand as their own. Another way of thinking of this is outsourcing. So if you are a marketing company and a client approaches you with the desire to create a custom website, but you don’t have the expertise to do so, you can use white-labeled development to build the website.

White-labeling is a very common practice. ThemeSupport provides white-labeled and outsourced development for digital marketing agencies who need help developing a website for their own customer. We specialize in creating both white-labeled custom WordPress themes and can also build a white-labeled website based on a premium theme.

What if I have a website, but want to update it?

This is a great question. There are a lot of variables that determine if your site will be able to migrate, or transfer to a new website. The first thing we need to know is what kind of theme do you have? If you are currently using a WordPress theme, we can easily help you move your site to a new WordPress theme (or customize your existing one). If you use Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly, we can help transfer your site to a more powerful WordPress website. Things get a little tricky if your website already has a custom theme; with anything custom, it will take custom development to redesign or change your website. We can do a flat rate or fixed cost quote to migrate a website from a PSD to a custom theme.

If you have multiple websites, and want to combine them into one, we can help with this as well!

These are just a few things you will need to know if you want to update your website. Some other questions to consider are: Do you want to have a WordPress website? Do you want to have another custom made site? What is your vision when you say upgrade your website? Contact us with your questions, and we would love to help you!

ThemeSupport can build a custom WordPress theme.

ThemeSupport can create a custom WordPress website for you!

As previously stated, we need the mockups of your website before we can begin to create your site. After reviewing the mockups, we can create a customized quote and go from there.

Along with creating custom websites, we can also help customize your WordPress theme as well! Some things we can customize on a WordPress theme are the home page, plugins, or adding on an e-commerce option. If you have a PSD file, we can help with PSD to WordPress development.

To see all of the WordPress customization we offer, click here.

ThemeSupport can build a website based on a premium theme.

We can also create a website for you based on a premium theme.  As with other premium themes, you get to choose the look and feel of it.

When we build a website based on a premium theme, we make sure it’s mobile responsive, SEO optimized, and made to your satisfaction. What we would need from you is all of the content, video, or images you want included. We would also need your company logo. From here, we can create a website for you.

Making the Final Decision. 

If you are looking to build a website, the main thing it comes down to is what is most important to you: money or design. If you have a tight budget, or don’t want to spend a lot of money on a website, a premium theme would be a good choice for you. But, if the design is really important to you, then you should go with a custom theme. This will allow you to have the website looking exactly how you want. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but both are good options. It really comes down to your needs and priorities.

We would love to help you with whatever type of website you decide to go with. We can help you in creating a custom WordPress theme, customizing a WordPress website, or helping you maintain your existing website. Contact us using the form on the right with your questions or concerns, and we will get back to you soon!


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