What's the difference between a theme installation and custom design

Due to an increase in customer enquiries, we have put together this post to discuss the differences between websites built via a theme installation or a full bespoke design. If you would like to know more about what type of project suits your business based on specification, expense and multiple other aspects then read on.

​What do we mean by theme installation

When we refer to theme installation we mean purchasing a premade website template from a third party developer and installing and setting it up on your website.

​The usual process of theme installation

  • First you will be required to fill out a design questionnaire which will give us a better understanding of what you want to achieve with your new website as well as what looks you do and don’t like design wise.
  • Once completed, our designer will collate a selection of trusted themes which match your specifications, and you can choose your favourite. Our team will then install it onto a new OpenCart website or onto an existing one.
  • Then, it’s up the role of our front-end developers to ensure that the colours and styles are in-line with your basic business branding guidelines. With any theme install we do, we initially include the costs of changing the colour scheme of the theme, but any other changes you would like to make the theme would be chargeable. As these are often reviewed once we have styled the site to match your business.
  • We then get started on migrating your data over if applicable. So we will migrate customers, orders, products, categories, ensuring that the move to your new website is as streamlined as possible.
  • We will then set up your store by updating all banners and graphics on site to match either your current website or your new requirements as well as your payment gateways and shipping modules.

​What do we mean by custom design

A custom design is something bespoke and unique to our business that our designer has created to suit your business model and also your users experience to ensure all parties are using a site built specifically with them in mind.

​The usual process of custom design

  • Initial confrontation regarding design, required functionalities, and gathering information on the business and also issues that it’s actually solving. We do this in numerous ways, from reviewing Google Analytics, to setting up heatmap tracking to get a real view of how your customers are interacting with your website currently and what changes can be made to improve the process for them, ensuring they can get from A-B in as few clicks as possible to increase checkout rates.
  • Design phase, our team will create some wireframes so you can see visually, how a customer would navigate your online business. In this section we will take into account ease of use, and also accessibility to a wide range of customers. Based off the research done in the previous section.
  • When the wireframes are complete, the design process begins. Our designer will create a design based on your requirements and branding guidelines to ensure it has the appeal and usability needed to improve user experience and user flow.
  • Once you are happy with the design, the project is then passed over to our front end team to begin transforming the design into the website.
  • Now the website has been created, we will create the functionality for the features in the admin area to give you control over elements of the front end and install any modules requested.
  • Final stages are testing both from Welford and you to ensure both parties are happy with the finished product, and address any bugs or tweaks which need to be made.
  • Once both parties are happy with the site, we will work on getting the site live!
  • It should be noted that we allow for minor changes within the restrictions of the specification signed upon, any major changes will be deemed as billable.

​Why would you choose theme installation?

Installation of a theme into a CMS such as OpenCart.

  • It’s a great option for customers who are starting up their online business and are wanting to reserve their cash for other expense.
  • It’s more readily available on the market place, which means it has a smaller turnaround time.
  • It’s a much cheaper alternative to a bespoke solution.

​Why would you choose custom design?

Custom installation of bespoke design, coded from scratch.

  • We will completely customise the website to match your requirements visually and mechanically.
  • You have more control over the look and functionality.
  • We work with you to create processes which mean the website does the work, rather than you.
  • It’s more of a valuable, long term business solution as it has been designed with you in mind and we’ve ensured that it is a website that will grow with your business.

​Drawbacks of theme installation

  • As we install the theme, and then allocate X amount of hours to make any amendments you require to match your branding (anything further than the allowed time will be chargeable). It’s worthwhile noting that with the theme being purchased from a third party, we aren’t responsible for the code provided. It’s recommended that with all theme’s you should look for developer support, we can make changes and update the source code but this too is chargeable.
  • It won’t offer you the freedom that a custom design would do.
  • The theme will more than likely include a lot of features you would not have a use for, this means your admin is overcomplicated compared to a custom design.
  • It’s possible that you may experience problems should your site experience a huge surge in traffic or even an overall increase in traffic.
  • Any changes made to the theme may cause issues with different screen resolutions/ mobile devices as the template has been built to work in its current form
  • If your website required any customisation the theme would not accommodate due to it not being a part of the base structure.
  • It’s generally considered not as good due to the fact that every business has it’s differences and in certain cases the one size fits all approach doesn’t work well in the longer term.

​Drawbacks of custom design

  • As it’s a completely bespoke solution, it takes a longer time to create which results in higher costs.
  • It can take a while to produce depending on the specification/ brief.

​How would it work from a management perspective?

Theme installation

Themes generally come with an array of features and functionality available in the admin area, given you more control over the look of the website. This is usually all available via numerous modules or a separate dashboard.

Custom Design

Any functionality control you have over the site will be built into the admin in easy to identify areas and instructions will be given in the form of a manual at the end of the project to help new staff use the system and also serve as a refresher for existing staff.

​How to determine which one is for you?

SO, you have all of the information you need to make a decision but you’re still struggling… don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. If you feel this way please get in touch with our team today. Due to the impacts of the coronavirus disease (COV-19), our preferred method of communication is via the contact form.