Pros and Cons of Using an Off the Shelf WordPress Theme

WordPress is easy to learn, simple to use, and no matter your knowledge on how to build a website, you can create one that works in just a few minutes.

There are good reasons why WordPress has become so popular since its inception in 2003. If it all sounds too good to be true, it should be noted that WordPress is not perfect. While it arguably offers advantages that makes it perfect for beginners, there are some limitations as well. This includes the use of templates which are the core of the WordPress system.

What is a Template? As the name implies, it is program that is pre-built for you to select the colour and arrangement of information on your website. In other words, it provides the pattern that people see when they visit your website. By using a pre-built template, you can quickly assemble and present your content to the public.

There are many, many templates that are available. While most are free, some will require a small purchase price. But having a pre-built template means saving a considerable amount of time and effort, but at what cost?

What follows are the pros and cons of using off the shelf templates when building your website. This will help you make the best-informed decision about whether off the shelf templates are right for your needs.

Using A WordPress Template – Pros

Fast Set Up: Arguably the best reason why an off the shelf template is best is that they are available and easy to set up. You can considerably cut the time needed to create your website by using a template that is already built.

That means you add in the template, upload your content, and you are basically ready to go. It helps that templates are designed to cut the workload considerably, so all you need to do is add what you want instead of designing the appearance of the site itself.

Inexpensive: You can find many templates for free or go to a site that offers professional versions for a price. While $50 may sound like a little much compared to the many free ones that are available, the truth is that those with a professional appearance are quite good and easily distinguishable from the cheap ones.

Plus, if you understand how to set up the template, you will be quickly on your way to creating your website with a template that is clean, professional, and stands out.

High-End Design for a Fraction of the Cost: You can hire a theme designer that have large teams of support which translates to getting a high-end template for your needs. You’ll need to look for the ones that have established a strong reputation and provide an excellent portfolio of their work. But when you find one, they can really make your website stand out.

The themes they provide often come with the following.

  • High Quality Animations
  • Transitional Effects
  • High-End Finish

You can choose from the unlimited number of design styles and themes that are designed to fit into your industry. By choosing a high-end designer, you can really upgrade the appearance of your site for a nominal cost.

Using A WordPress Template – Cons

While the pros seem to be positive ones, the cons are considerable when you select an off the shelf template.

No Personalisation: There is an old saying in business that it is better to be different than better. This means that for you to succeed on the web, your site needs to stand out from the crowd. Using a pre-built template means you are stuck with the basic design. While you can make some changes, it is often not enough to separate your site from others who have used the same template.

Plus, changing an off the shelf template can be difficult to accomplish. This is because some of the programming used cannot be removed. Plus, you may make changes which prevent the template from being updated which makes it worthless over time. Changing too much of the template is arguably more detrimental than leaving it alone. Which means that either way, you are stuck with a template that does not work fully for your needs.

Slow Load Time: This is one of the biggest detriments to choosing an off the shelf template as many of them are loaded with neat effects and animations that may look nice but slow your website down considerably. This is because every effect adds Javascript which takes more time for your website to download to potential customers.

When you consider a wait time at least five seconds for your site to download, one out of four will leave before they even see your full website. That’s 25% of your potential customer base gone and with little hope of returning.

This is arguably the biggest danger to using off the shelf templates is that it may slow your site down so much that it becomes detrimental to your success.


There are few overnight success stories for web-based businesses. Almost all require time to build an audience, gain their trust, and become a reliable resource for products, services, or information. This means that the template you use should stand up to the numerous changes and updates that will be needed as your website grows and expands.

The issue with many off the shelf templates is that they are not designed for such changes. New updates, different themes, and added features which are commonplace with custom-designed templates are not as easy when you purchase a pre-made template off the shelf. And while they may work right away and keep working over the next several months, at some point an update, upgrade, or change may cause issues that prevent them from functioning properly.

This is one of the biggest dangers with off the shelf templates is that a simple update may cause havoc with the template itself. Plus, if you do not discover the issue right away, it will affect how people see your website. This is why you will need to change out your off the shelf templates regularly to keep them properly updated.

Poorly Built for SEO and Limited Improvements:

The many off the shelf themes which are available are generally not well suited to follow the best SEO practices. This means that the keywords, key phrases, and other information you can add to boost the search results may not reach their full potential with an off the shelf template, although a custom built WordPress website can contain the best elements of WordPress without the bad.

Plus, while they can be customised by a WordPress expert to enhance the SEO quality, that brings the risks of future updates changing its SEO effectiveness. In other words, what you add tomorrow may alter the SEO of today.

And, the combination of previously mentioned issues such as being low speed, bloated, and quite slow will affect the SEO ranking for your site. One of the more overlooked aspects is that Google for example accounts for website speed as part of the search rank calculation. This means that you may find your links ranked lower and lower with the main reason going unnoticed if you do not frequently check the download speed.

In the end, choosing an off the shelf WordPress theme may not be right for you. If you are serious about building a successful website that reaches the maximum number of people, then choosing a high-end designer to create a proper template is the answer. A website designed by an expert will have all the features you want, withstand updates and upgrades, and be tailor-made for your SEO needs.