We at WebMeridian often receive a question: “What is the difference between a custom and a ready-made template?.. Which one should I chose for my online shop?”

Our team has decided to put the answers for the most frequently asked questions here, to make your decision easier.

So, there are three options with regards to design choice for your e-commerce site: creating a custom site design, buying a ready-made Magento template, or a “symbiosis” between those two options.

OPTION 1: CUSTOM DESIGN

Time investment: minimum 40 hours (for frontend development: the designer needs to create PSD files beforehand).
Things to consider:

  • With updating of the Magento version, custom-made templates don’t update automatically, as they are based on the coding traits of a set version. The settings may be tweaked or lost during Magento version upgrade.
  • Depending on the skills of the developer, the performance of the site (load time, indexation and other things important for SEO) may vary a lot.
  • As the time invested in creating a template from scratch is much higher, the cost will raise with every custom thing you want to see on your site.

In general, a theme created from scratch would be viable for a large business that is not limited in funds and want some traits and look that really differ them from everyone else on the market or in the niche.

OPTION 2: READY-MADE TEMPLATE (buying on Themeforest)

Themeforest - Milano

A part of Magento template – Milano

Time investment: several hours needed for the developer to buy, install and renovate/adjust the theme for your backend.

Things to consider: some more time may be invested in internal customisations that were not provided with the template.

The most widely used Magento ready-made themes are Ultimo (exists for both Mageto 1. and 2.; regular license $99 with 6 months support), Porto (regular license $99 with 6 months support; Porto 2 with Magento 2 compatibility exists), and Milano (regular license $94 with 6 months support; not compatible with Magento 2 yet). As they are very popular and used by many online sellers, you will have no issues with them, they upgrade easily with new versions of Magento, and there are many extensions that integrate easily with these themes.

People may chose either of the three based on functionality their site needs or type of e-commerce they lead. If you’re interested in differences between and peculiarities of use for these three front-end themes that are the most popular for Magento 1 and 2 shops, let us know through the comment section, and we will create an article about that.

OPTION 3: SYMBIOSIS

Swedish site on the basis of Porto Magento template with customisations

Customised Porto template

What it means: The developer buys a theme you chose and make stylisations based on your design (to match your corporate style – banner, colours, layout) and create the extensions that are needed for your best cooperation with your customers.

There will be no troubles with update of the Magento version if you use symbiosis method of front-end development for your e-commerce site.

Time investment: depends on the number of customisations.

Things to consider: 

  • Depending on the level of developer’s experience, there may be various troubles in performance;
  • If the number of customisations is really big, it might be easier to create a new design.

In general, custom-made design (something that is designed for you) is the best for big businesses who want to have a completely unique site compared to those existing on the market already and can invest hundreds to 2-3 thousands of dollars in it for the best user experience and result; ready-made Magento templates is the best choice for those e-sellers whose funds are limited, but who have a big amount of products to sell (if your business is just starting, might be a better choice to use smaller and easier CMSes like Shopify or Shopware – we can help with that, as well); a symbiosis between them is ideal for those online entrepreneurs who have tried ready-made themes and see that they need additional features, or for the site to match their corporate style.

If you have questions regarding the template that will suit your business, or you need to customise your existing frontend, team WebMeridian is here to help!

Send us an email at o.bakun@webmeridian.org with the subject “Template help” (or just leave a comment under thos article), and we will respond in no time.