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Premium(Premade) theme vs Custom theme

We will focus on the differences between premium and custom themes and how to choose the right solution for your project

WordPress has 3 main type of theme, the free themes from wordpress.org build and maintained by the awesome WordPress community, the premium or premade themes which are themes that you have to purchase on the themes maker site or a platform like Themeforest, finally the custom themes created from scratch by a web developer or a web agency for their client specific need.
In this article we will focus on the two last theme category which are the primary choices for professional WordPress site development, we will also explain how to choose the right solution for your project.

Premium theme (Premade theme)

Summary : Best choice if the client want to control all aspect of the site. Easy to setup but difficult to customize and maintain. To limit the maintenance issues the UX and Design must fit the theme option limitation.


  • Client can add page to the site and edit all the content by himself.
  • The price to set up is cheaper.


  • The Design of the site is based on options provided by the theme, not based on UX and business requirement.
  • It required to have a member on the client team ready to learn the theme usage and manage the site.
  • The design of the site can easily become dirty (because client has the ability the add/update page without any designer intervention).
  • Responsive web design UX limitation (because premade theme essentially use “Column drop” pattern).
  • WordPress Update (Core/theme/plugin) are more difficult to maintain . Bug appear frequently on premium theme after WordPress major update.
  • Custom functionalities are more difficult to implement and maintain.
  • Unwanted plugin are often required to make the theme working correctly.

Custom theme (Build from scratch)

Summary : Perfectly match the business and user needs. Required more time to setup but easier to maintain . It’s a UX/DESIGN first approach.


  • Get the best of WordPress without constraint.
  • Unique design match the business and UX goal.
  • Custom functionalities are easy to implement and maintain.
  • Admin is optimized for the client need ( easier learning curve / translation ).
  • Can be easily optimized for accessibility.
  • Can be easily optimized for page loading speed.


  • The price : like everything custom product the cost is higher than premade theme , do not fit low budget project.
  • The development required time (this justified the price).

Prices vs Customization

As you can see on the chart below it’s all about how much customization you need (design and program).

Our experience

At Studio-JT we have a long experience developing sites using all type of themes : free, premium and custom themes. Currently about 80% of our sites are custom themes. The experience show us that custom theme is the best option for our clients.
Lot of our clients who first request to build their site using premium theme came back to us after 1~2 years asking us to renewal their site with custom theme because they love WordPress but they usually do not have time to maintain the site themselves (add new pages using the page builder or add widgets) or they experienced some update issues when the premium theme is not compatible with the last version of WordPress.

Wrapping Up

Hope this post will help you understand the difference between premium and custom (premade) themes and help you choose the right option for your next WordPress project.


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