August 16, 2019 by Ben Chafetz

Ready-Made or Custom-Made Theme For Your Magento Store?

You need a suit.

You could go for a custom-made Armani for $4,000.

Or, a Marshall’s special Van Heusen for $99.99.

Both will do the job.

So how do you decide?

It depends on your needs.

If you’re closing a big deal on a private jet, you may need that Armani.

If you just need a suit for a company event, the Van Heusen will do just fine.

The same goes with choosing between a cutom-made theme vs. a ready-made theme for your Magento storefront.

It depends on your needs.

If you need a highly-customized site with complex functionality and unique product configurations, a custom-made theme may be the way to go. Like the custom-made suit, a custom-made theme is more expensive, but you can modify every little detail, and get exactly what you want – no compromises.

If your business and products are more standard, you could find everything you need with a ready-made theme. Like an off-the-rack suit, with a ready-made theme, you can pick its color, size, and style, and get something that looks pretty good.

So which is it?

Custom-made or ready-made

Let’s explore the pros and cons of both…

Ready-Made Magento Themes

The screenshot below is from Magento’s ready-made Luma theme that comes standard with every Magento installation.

Ready-made themes are designed to be a sort of “one-size-fits-all” for your Magento store.

They’re a great option for those who are just starting out with Magento, and are not ready to commit to an expensive, custom theme. 

You can choose from a large selection of ready-made Magento themes from the Magento Marketplace or a website like ThemeForest.

Now let’s look at the pros and cons of ready-made themes:

PROS 

  • Low cost – This is, by far, the biggest factor that influences eCommerce entrepreneurs to use pre-built themes. These themes are designed to be sold to hundreds or thousands of stores, so they can be developed and then sold at a very low price, compared to commissioning a custom website theme. In many cases, you may only need to pay $100-$200 for a high-quality ready-made theme. 
  • Good support – If you choose a high-quality theme developer, you’ll find that you’ll get extensive support as part of your purchase. You’ll be able to ask questions about the theme, troubleshoot issues, and ask other users about any problems you’re having to find solutions. However, the level of support you get is highly dependent on the theme developer you buy your theme from. 
  • User-friendly – The most popular Magento themes are mostly all going to be user-friendly, with features like responsive web design, a great user experience, and reasonably good loading times. 

 

CONS

  • Quality is inconsistent – When you shop for a pre-built theme, you’re often taking a gamble on theme quality. For example, a theme that initially appears to be high-quality may end up being chock-full of “spaghetti code” and unnecessary features, causing your Magento 2 website to slow down. It may take some trial and error to find a theme that works for you, and even if you do, it may not be up to the same standards as a custom-built Magento theme. 
  • Customization is limited – When you use a pre-built Magento 2 theme, your website will never truly reflect your brand perfectly. You can make some minor adjustments to its branding, color, and other such changes, in most cases, but the level of customization is incredibly limited compared to a custom theme.
  • May not have the functionality you need – It may be possible to add some additional features by doing things like installing extensions from the Magento Marketplace. However, you will have a hard time adding custom features that must be built from scratch. 

CUSTOM-MADE MAGENTO THEMES

Believe it or not, Coca Cola runs on Magento.

Here’s their custom-made Magento 2 theme:cInstead of purchasing a ready-made, pre-built theme for Magento 2, your other option is to hire a web developer or a development team to create a custom theme. You’ll tell them all about your needs, your brand, and the way you want your site to look – and they’ll build the site from the ground-up.

Naturally, this is not cheap. But custom Magento 2 themes have a number of great advantages that make the investment worth it.

Let’s compare the pros and cons now of custom-made themes:

PROS

  • Exclusive, branded design – When you commission a custom Magento 2 theme, it’s completely yours. You’ll collaborate with the developers and designers working on your project to create a storefront that perfectly matches your branding, shows off your products, and functions smoothly for your customers. There will be no other website that looks just like yours – unlike with a pre-built Magento theme.
  • Customizable functionality – By collaborating with your development team, you can add custom features and elements to your website throughout the entire process of building the theme. And, in the future, you can use the same team to add more features, as necessary.
  • Better compatibility – If you’re planning on using a specific set of plugins, certain payment gateways, or a particular API for your website, you can tell your development team, and they will ensure that your theme is totally compatible with your selected plugins and add-ons. 

 

CONS

  • Long development times – Web developers and designers work fast, but the process of developing a custom Magento theme takes collaboration. It can take months – or even up to a year – to complete your project, depending on the complexity of your theme.
  • High upfront cost – Hiring an experienced, professional web development team for a Magento 2 build is not cheap. On the low end, you may spend $4,000 – and on the high end, the costs can climb to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 
  • Maintenance & upkeep fees – Unless you have a lot of experience with web design and administration, you probably won’t have the technical chops to maintain and update the site completely on your own, or fix errors and bugs by yourself.

    There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but that means you’ll probably need to pay to keep your development team on retainer to get support and maintenance for your site. 

Ready-Made Vs. Custom-Made – What’s Right For Me? 

If you’re just starting out and don’t want to invest a lot into your Magento site, a ready-made theme is perfectly acceptable. When you’ve outgrown the features and functionality, you may need a custom theme. 

So think about these pros and cons, and consider your own budget, preferences, and the size of your eCommerce business. If you do, you’re sure to make the right choice. Need help choosing, or building your own Magento theme? Get in touch with 121eCommerce now, and see how we can help. 

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