Why Do WordPress Theme Customizations Cost So Much?

If you just want to create an informational website to generate leads or you need to sell a few products online using a simple shopping cart, customizing a stock theme could save you time and budget. We often get requests to modify an off-the-shelf WordPress theme where we have charged $2,000 – $5,000+. If a premade theme only costs $50-$100 and the website is seemingly built, why is it so expensive to insert some content?

Content Doesn’t Fit Perfectly

With custom web design, you design the website from the ground up based on the target market, brand, content and functionality requirements. With a premade theme, you skip the design phase, insert the content into the theme and hope for the best. Oftentimes, the content will not fit perfectly like the theme’s demo so we will need to modify the theme to make it work with custom CSS. Modifying page templates is much more difficult than coding from scratch so if you need a lot of changes, you will need to shell out for a custom WordPress website.

Learning Someone Else’s Code

There will be a learning curve as your web developer needs to get familiar with the theme author’s code, read their instructions and create custom content to fit your brand and theme. Seemingly simple changes like changing fonts, colors or page columns can take longer than you think.

Adding or Removing Functionality is Not Easy

When you are buying a premade theme for $50-$100, the author has to sell it thousands of times to make a profit. In order to sell it over and over, themes have to include every conceivable feature and content scenario possible. However, it is impossible to cater to everyone so undoubtedly you will need to add or remove functionality based on your requirements. If you want to tweak the theme without losing the ability to later update the theme, you will have to use a child theme, which inherits its functionality from the parent theme. Say your theme has a contact form module but you need your form to send out an autoresponder when someone fills it out. Your web developer would then need to install, configure and customize Contact Form 7 to match your stock theme, which takes more time.

Plugin Incompatibility

Just like any other theme, it can be incompatible with plugins you want to use. If this is the case, time is required to find another stable plugin with similar functionality and customize it to match the look and feel of your theme.

Adjusting for Mobile Devices

Once your website has been inserted, time is required to test how it renders on popular mobile devices like iPad, iPhone, and Android both vertically and horizontally. It is a big, tedious job to ensure that your content blocks stack properly and that your images, fonts and spacing get sized down appropriately. Ideally, your premade theme has a section for custom CSS so you can use media queries to refine how the website looks on mobile devices.

Revisions & Refinements

Whether it’s customizing a premade theme or building a custom WordPress website, there will always be revisions and refinements. With a premade theme, sometimes you just have to settle for how something looks or functions because what you want may not be possible.

In Conclusion

Do the above issues amount to 20-50 hours of web development work? Based on our experience, we think so, or maybe even more. There is no such thing as a simple website. If you do opt for a stock theme, pick one that fits your content and needs and accept that it may look generic or you might find yourself having to start over with a custom website. Please contact our San Francisco web development team if you need help modifying a premade theme or a custom responsive WordPress website.

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