Have you ever looked inside a Cracker Jacks box? They were all the rage when I was growing up….
What you find inside the box looks pretty much alike. Hard to distinguish one carmel-colored popcorn kernel from another.
There is not much in the box that stands out and catches your attention.
And yet there is one exception.
The message printed on the outside of each box says, “Prize Inside.”
While there are only a number of unique prizes, you never know which one might be inside your box. For the buyer of Cracker Jacks, that unknown made your box feel unique. And after you’d had enough of the sticky-sweet popcorn, you’d keep digging in the box looking for the buried treasure.
The prize, the one unique item in the sea of sameness, is what caught your attention—what kept you interested in that box of Cracker Jacks.
While you don’t want your website visitor to have to dig for her treasure, you do want her to find something unique when she lands on your website. Something that sets you apart as The One she wants to engage with and buy from.
One way to standout is with the design of your WordPress theme
When you install WordPress, you are also invisibly installing a WordPress theme (sometimes also called a template).
WordPress itself does not have an easy way to interact with your website reader without a theme. It’s like walking onto the car lot and buying an engine and chassis without the body, the seats and the steering wheel. You might be content to sit and listen to the engine purr, however, you will not be able to go very far. It is impossible to engage only with the engine and get where you want to go.
It is the same with WordPress. Without a theme, your reader would have a hard time understanding the chaos—the jumbled mess of words and images that would appear on his screen when he arrived at your website. Clearly not the ideal reader experience you seek to share.
One purpose of a WordPress theme design is to organize your content. It instructs the browser how to effectively display your website content on your reader’s screen.
Fortunately, you can select from many, many WordPress themes. Themes vary in price (and quality), from free in the WordPress theme directory to Premium themes available for a one-time purchase or as an annual subscription that includes support and upgrades.
All of these themes are available to—well, pretty much everyone.
To be unique, do you need a custom WordPress theme?
If all those themes are available to everyone, how do you create a WordPress website design that is visually unique if you use a theme that has been downloaded 100’s if not 1,000’s of times?
You might think that you need to create a custom theme in order to standout.
Maybe. Or might a customized theme be all you need? Adding those four letters ized to the end of the word custom completely changes your website design creation process.
So what exactly is the difference?
A custom theme features…
- Yes, a custom website design is awesome when done well.
- It is beautiful.
- It is unique so reflects your values to connect with your ideal customer.
- It is created specifically for you by a designer.
- It takes your specific business or non-profit needs into consideration.
- It is very expensive and time consuming.
- Since it is a big investment, we get attached to the design, making it hard, especially emotionally, to easily change or pivot when necessary.
- You likely need to pay for expensive developer time to help make future changes.
- Your custom theme may no longer work when WordPress (the engine) releases an update, leaving your site vulnerable to being hacked.
What if you don’t have the time or money to create a custom WordPress theme, yet you want a unique site?
Might you be able to customize a website theme design to successfully reflect your values and business or non-profit at a fraction of the cost?
A Customized theme features…
- When you install a WordPress theme with no changes, your site will look like everyone else’s site that is using that same theme.
- Unless the customized changes you need are simple, there will still be a technical learning curve, a financial cost or both.
- The existing theme is a proven foundation that works, so you can quickly customize aspects of the theme to create something unique without starting from scratch.
- It is less expensive because the time and cost of designing and testing the theme is spread over many buyers.
- When you purchase a WordPress theme with a subscription, you get updates and fixes that help keep your site secure for a minimal cost over time.
- You can choose a premium WordPress theme that includes a customizer tool built into the theme or add a user-friendly plugin* so you can make changes without hiring someone or knowing how to code.
- You can get a customized website launched quickly. Because the basics are in place, the time to launch is much shorter.
While a customized WordPress theme design is not a no cost option, it is significantly less expensive than a custom theme design from scratch. So unless you have really special needs, you will be able to create a customized design that meets your budget.
The cost may include—
- Purchasing a premium theme so you know you have a quality foundation to start. I recommend and use StudioPress, however they are only one of several quality options available.
- Your time as you learn how to make changes yourself.
- Hiring help cost-effectively because you’re making changes to an already solid foundation.
- Purchasing WordPress plugins that help you customize your site without having to learn how to code.
Those extra four letters ized, can shift your how-to-get-your-website-launched process. Customized allows you to use a prebuilt WordPress theme yet still be visually unique while creating a sustainable website design that reflects your values and still meets your budget.
How to know which option best meets your needs?
Hopefully you no longer feel like budget constraints limit your options. Because you now know what is possible even when starting with a pre-built theme, you can strategize to manifest your ideal website. A customized WordPress website theme design is likely all you’ll need to quickly have a beautiful, sustainable website that standouts and reflects your values.
Whether you are a offering services or selling products there are cost-effective resources for WordPress—which include plugins, premium themes, DIY courses and step-by-step books/videos. Or you can hire a developer to tweak your theme—that will enhance your online presence without having to take the time and spend the extra money required to get a custom WordPress theme design.
There are times when the product or service you are offering is so outside the box, a pre-built theme is simply not an option. Chances are if you fit into this latter category, you already know it.
And if you are not sure, create a roadmap, then try customizing a pre-built theme first. If you can’t get the results you need, you’ll be much clearer what you do need when you hire someone to build you a custom WordPress theme.
*Note: Here are some plugin examples. I have not tested these plugins.
Uplevel your website to reflect your unique offering and standout
What is your super power? We all have something unique to offer.
Share what helps you standout and connect with your ideal customer in the comments below. Now use that insight to customize your WordPress theme.
Not sure, what your super power is? Have too many super powers to decide just one? One step to help figure out your super power—ask yourself, how do you love to help your customers? Now share in the comments below.