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Dahlia Keen | 15 Sep, 2023

Should You Start With a WordPress Template or Code From Scratch?

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Should you start with a Wordpress template or code from scratch? Is it better to use existing tools or to write your own HTML? I'll discuss the best tips for web developers in this article.

Coding a Website from Scratch

Thinking of designing a new website on WordPress? You have two options. First, you could start from scratch. Otherwise, you could save some time with an already-coded WordPress theme (also called a template).

Of course, templates smooth out the development process. However, you should note both pros and cons to using them. One common criticism is the lack of creative freedom you might experience when relying on a template. But if you’re looking for a fast-tracked path to a brand new website, a template could be the right fit. 

Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at each option to help you pick a WordPress path that works best with your goals and budget.

Maybe you’re well-versed in Java or Python and feel confident in your ability to code a website from scratch. Even if you only have basic HTML or CSS knowledge, you can still technically create a new website — it just might not be as interactive. 

Consider these pros and cons before working on your new website’s code: 

Pros of Coding over Using a Wordpress Template

Coding a website from scratch is the best option for people who need an entirely customized solution or want to incorporate advanced features that most WordPress themes don't offer. 

For example, you might want to create a membership site with special access levels for different groups of users. Plus, you want to offer free trials. In this case, you can’t accommodate this type of customization with template plugins alone. 

On the other hand, coding from scratch doesn't provide any out-of-the-box features like prebuilt layouts and design templates. In other words? You’ll take longer to create your site’s features. However, coding is also more accessible than ever before: Today, you can access plenty of open-source frameworks like Django or React Native without having to know HTML and CSS.

Choosing to code your website from scratch offers a range of advantages that cater to those seeking a high level of customization and control. Here are the key benefits you can enjoy with a custom-coded website:

  1. Unique Design: With a coded website, you have unparalleled freedom to craft a unique and distinct design that aligns perfectly with your vision. There are no predefined templates, allowing you to customize every aspect of your site until it meets your exact specifications. This level of creative control extends to every pixel on your webpage.

  2. Easy Updates: Coded websites facilitate straightforward updates, saving both time and money in the long run. You can swiftly implement changes, add new features, or refine existing ones without being limited by template constraints.

  3. Unlimited Functionality: Custom coding offers boundless potential for adding new features and functionalities to your website. There are no restrictions imposed by pre-existing templates, enabling you to adapt and expand your site's capabilities as your needs evolve.

  4. High Performance: Custom websites typically offer superior performance compared to WordPress-templated sites. Since all features on a custom site are designed specifically for your needs, they tend to load faster and operate more efficiently.

  5. Additional Security: Custom-coded sites often present a more formidable challenge for hackers. The unique codebase and the absence of common vulnerabilities found in widely used themes can enhance your website's security and protect against exploitation.

  6. Custom Solutions: A custom-coded website can be tailored to serve virtually any purpose, whether you're building a simple blog or a complex online store. Unlike pre-built frameworks that may not align perfectly with your objectives, custom coding ensures your website precisely meets your requirements.

  7. Full Control: Coding from scratch provides you with absolute control over your website. This level of control enables the integration of advanced features and functionalities that might not be achievable with pre-made themes. However, it's worth noting that this flexibility requires a certain level of programming knowledge, particularly in HTML and CSS.

While custom coding offers these advantages, it's important to recognize that it demands a deeper understanding of web development.

If you're already proficient in HTML and CSS, transitioning to coding shouldn't pose significant challenges. However, for those seeking a quick and hassle-free solution, WordPress themes remain a viable option. The key is to determine your priorities, weighing the level of customization and control you desire against your proficiency in programming.

Custom-coded websites are a powerful tool in the hands of those with the technical expertise to harness their potential.

Cons of Coding over Using a Wordpress Template

If you’re not a coding expert, you’ll save time and money using a WordPress template. The learning curve is high — talented programmers spend years building up their experience. Even if you take a JavaScript course or Python certification, you’ll still need some time before creating a custom site. Plus, beginners are more prone to making mistakes that could hurt your site’s user experience — and your wallet. 

The end result is more time and money invested when you could have breezed through development with a template instead. 

While coding a website from scratch offers significant advantages, it also comes with a set of disadvantages that can impact your project. Here are some notable drawbacks to consider:

  1. Expense: Developing a custom-coded website often requires hiring skilled professionals who possess in-depth knowledge of web development.

    These professionals can be costly, and while their expertise allows for complete customization, it may strain the budget of new businesses or individuals with limited financial resources.

  2. Risk: Coding a website from scratch carries inherent risks, especially if you lack programming knowledge or don't have the budget to hire experienced professionals. In such cases, DIY coding can result in costly mistakes that may detrimentally affect your site's functionality, performance, or security.

  3. Time-Consuming: Building a website from the ground up is a time-consuming endeavor. Developing features such as social media integration or custom management solutions demands a substantial investment of time and effort.

    Even if you opt to outsource the work, finding the right fit among developers can be a time-intensive process, involving the review of online profiles and conducting interviews. This time commitment can be a significant factor, particularly for businesses seeking a quick online presence.

    And if you outsource? Finding the right fit will take time too, as you sift through online CVs, and conduct interviews.If your company lacks the necessary manpower or budget, templates are a quicker option. 

  4. More Bugs: Custom-coded websites are susceptible to errors, which can lead to more potential issues in the future. These bugs might manifest as compromised security, missing plugins, or unexpected technical glitches. Ensuring the reliability and stability of a custom-coded site requires rigorous testing and ongoing maintenance, which can be resource-intensive.

In summary, while coding a website from scratch provides extensive customization and control, it's important to weigh these benefits against the potential drawbacks.

Expenses, risks, time commitment, and the possibility of encountering bugs should be considered in the context of your specific project goals and resources.

For businesses with limited budgets or tight timelines, using templates or pre-built frameworks can offer a quicker and more cost-effective solution, albeit with some limitations on customization.

Ultimately, the choice between coding from scratch and using templates depends on your unique circumstances and priorities.

When to Use a WordPress Template

WordPress is a popular platform for building websites, and each template is backed by years of tweaking and widespread adoption across countless businesses and students.

Let’s look into pros and cons of using a WordPress template to build a website.

Pros of Using a WordPress Template

WordPress templates can be a lifesaver in getting you off the ground. They come with the basic functionality and design you need to start building a website, and they can save you hours of work trying to figure things out yourself. 

Let me expand on this.

  1. Easier Maintenance: WordPress templates come with pre-designed stylesheets and layouts, simplifying the process of maintaining your website's content. Unlike coding from scratch, you won't need to delve into the intricacies of the code to make updates, making routine maintenance much more accessible.

  2. Fast Load Times: Speed matters on the web. WordPress templates often come optimized for performance, leading to quicker page load times. This enhanced speed not only improves user experience but can also boost visitor engagement.

  3. Easier Updates: Managing updates is a breeze with templates. All changes are centralized, typically occurring within the template's framework. In contrast, custom-coded websites may require alterations in multiple files, which can be a time-consuming and error-prone process.

  4. Quick Access to Plugins: WordPress themes provide swift access to a wide array of free plugins. This convenience can save you money, as custom websites often involve additional fees for third-party plugins.

  5. Faster Development: Templates expedite development through automated plugins and pre-built features. Tasks such as creating navigation menus and updating older content become more efficient, allowing you to focus on the unique aspects of your site.

  6. Increased Security: Security is paramount. Using a well-maintained theme reduces the risk of vulnerabilities. Regular updates from the theme developer help fortify your website against potential threats, safeguarding your business from data breaches and identity theft.

  7. Decreased Stress: Building a website from scratch can be overwhelming, especially for those with busy schedules. WordPress templates offer relief by simplifying the workload, alleviating the stress of juggling multiple responsibilities.

  8. Proven Effective for SEO: Templates often come with built-in SEO features. This means your website will be better equipped to attract visitors through improved Google rankings. User-friendly features like easy navigation menus and identifiable icons further enhance the user experience, contributing to your site's SEO performance.

  9. Quality Control: Investing in a reputable template ensures quality control. You can trust that there won't be significant issues down the road, as experienced theme developers rigorously test and refine their products.

  10. Cost-Effective: Templates typically come with a fixed fee, minimizing the need for additional expenses related to updates, outsourcing, and custom development. This cost-effective approach allows you to allocate your budget more efficiently.

  11. Better ROI: Beyond saving money on professional web design services, templates empower you to focus on return on investment (ROI). Your website's success isn't solely about aesthetics; it's about driving traffic and converting visitors into paying customers. With more time and resources at your disposal, you can prioritize strategies to maximize your website's impact on your business.

In summary, opting for a WordPress template presents numerous advantages, particularly for those seeking a streamlined and cost-effective approach to web development.

These templates offer ease of maintenance, performance benefits, enhanced security, and SEO capabilities, ultimately contributing to a better return on investment.

Whether you're a business owner with limited coding experience or a seasoned developer looking for efficiency, WordPress templates provide a compelling solution for building effective and user-friendly websites.

Cons of Using a WordPress Template

Let's explore some of the drawbacks associated with using WordPress templates. While they can expedite the website development process, they do come with certain limitations and considerations:

  1. Similarities to Other Websites: One notable drawback is that you're not alone in using a WordPress template. Many others may opt for the same template, potentially resulting in websites that closely resemble one another. This lack of uniqueness can be a concern, especially if you're looking to stand out from competitors.

  2. Limited Customization and Design: Although templates often come with predefined styles and color schemes, they may not align with your brand's identity or values. Customization options can be restricted, varying from template to template. Some templates limit you to specific plugins or provide minimal flexibility for design alterations, while others might not allow any modifications at all. These constraints could hinder your ability to fully align the website with your vision and requirements.

  3. Limited Functionalities: WordPress templates are bound by the functions and features inherent to the chosen template. This limitation can curtail your creative freedom when designing your site. If the template lacks a specific feature or functionality you require, you may find yourself constrained by the template's limitations.

  4. Tweaking the Template: Another aspect to consider is that adapting the template to match your design and layout preferences often involves tweaking the template's underlying code. This process can be time-consuming, especially if you're not well-versed in coding. It's crucial to assess whether the effort required to make these modifications aligns with your project timeline and expertise.

In summary, while WordPress templates offer a convenient way to kickstart your website development, they come with trade-offs. These include the risk of your site resembling others, limited customization options, potential restrictions on functionality, and the need to invest time in adjusting the template to suit your preferences.

Your decision between using a WordPress template and coding from scratch should be based on a careful evaluation of your specific project requirements, design aspirations, and the trade-offs you are willing to make for the sake of efficiency and expediency.

Is it Better to Use a WordPress Template or Start from Scratch?

The choice between using a template or coding from scratch ultimately depends on your specific website goals and preferences. Let's break down the key considerations to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Website Purpose:

    • Template: If your primary goal is to create a business website or an e-commerce platform to promote products and services, starting with a template can be a practical choice. Templates are well-suited for these purposes, offering pre-built structures that can save time and effort.
    • Coding: On the other hand, if you're building an informational blog where you require a high degree of customization, especially for features like sidebar widgets and menus, starting with code might be more appropriate. Coding allows for complete control over these elements.
  2. Aesthetic Preferences:

    • Template: Templates come in various styles, from minimalistic to modern, and can often be adapted to suit your preferred aesthetic. You can customize fonts, colors, images, and more within the template's framework to align with your vision.
    • Coding: Coding provides unparalleled control over your site's appearance. You can implement highly customized fonts, colors, layouts, and design elements. However, this level of control may require more technical expertise and can be time-consuming, especially for beginners.

Ultimately, your decision hinges on how much time and effort you're willing to invest in making design decisions for your website. Both methods have their merits, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

It's worth noting that you're not locked into a single choice forever. You can start with a template for the sake of expediency and transition to custom coding as your project evolves and your skills grow.

Remember that the key is to align your choice with your specific goals, skill level, and design aspirations. As your website develops, you can always reassess and adjust your approach to ensure that it best serves your needs and objectives.

The flexibility to switch between methods provides a valuable opportunity for growth and adaptation in your web development journey.



Starting your website can be intimidating, especially if you’re unfamiliar with popular programming languages. That’s why it’s important to consider your options before diving right into website development.

The biggest benefit of using a WordPress theme is the significantly shorter time it takes to create the site — often just days rather than weeks or months. But if you have special design requests or don’t want to limit your options, coding from scratch may be better.

Hopefully, you’re a bit closer to deciding on your WordPress development path! If you’re interested in learning more about web design, check out our course roundups.

Want to start from scratch? Don't worry, there are resources to help. Check out my guide to the best HTML courses.



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By Dahlia Keen

Dahlia Keen is passionate about helping people find meaningful work in a career they enjoy. A creative writer for, she is backed by years of experience writing resumes for diverse industries, and she has helped hundreds of professionals land their dream job.

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