How to tell if you are buying a pre-made website theme vs custom website

2 Minute Read
Over the last few years, the proliferation of pre-made website themes have transitioned from trend to mainstream. 
To keep up with the demand and commoditization of web design, many design agencies have moved away from custom web design, and towards pre-made website themes.



The options can be overwhelming making it difficult for any business owner to decide on which option is best for his/her needs. Not all design firms disclose or are transparent about re-selling you a pre-made theme. It can make navigating the differences between firms and proposals really tricky. Especially if you want to invest in a custom website design, but aren’t sure if that’s what you are actually being quoted for by a firm.

Unfortunately, some design agencies and web firms tell clients that they are offering a custom website at an affordable price, while in actuality they are re-selling a pre-made theme and just spending a few hours customizing it.

We want clients to know what they are paying for upfront, so they can make an educated decision. Depending on your budget, priorities and timing, there is nothing wrong with considering a pre-made website theme vs custom website. You just need to make sure that your firm or designer is being completely honest with you when they tell you that they are giving you a custom website at such an affordable price.



How to tell if you are buying a pre-made website theme vs custom website:


1.  Do you want to know if a website, creative agency or a web design firm’s website is a pre-made WordPress theme?

The easiest solution is to copy/paste the company’s website domain name into a WordPress theme detector like WP Theme Detector.

If the site was built on WordPress, it will produce the results for you and display the name of the theme, author and parent theme, as well as provide buttons to where you can find and purchase that theme for yourself. If the name of the theme, or author matches up with the name of the firm, then their site is most likely a custom theme.

Here are some common pre-made themes that are used regularly within the design community. Information, not an endorsement of these themes: Extinct Child, Jarvis 3.5, Big Bang, Eight Degree, Enfold and Divi.

2. If you know how to view source code of a site, you can check there first to see if copyright details are displayed in the code. Searching for “/theme” should show you which theme is being used right after /theme.

3.  If your website firm or creative agency is using a pre-made theme for their own website, it is very likely that they will do the same for you and not offer custom web design.

4.  It is most likely a pre-made theme if the proposal or investment is $7,000 or less. With that being said, we have seen people pay custom web design prices for pre-made theme customization without knowing they were doing so.

5.  The word “custom” doesn’t appear anywhere on the website of the design firm or in their proposal. 


It is important to us, that in our collaboration with clients we continue to equip and educate them on their options, so they understand their choices in how they decide to move forward.


We don’t use industry jargon, or smoke and mirrors to get clients to buy something in order to profit off of their lack of knowledge or because themes are what everyone is doing now.

Instead, we want to contextualize what we do to what our client’s need is, regardless of whether it is working in our own Schooner or Galley themes or a custom website.


Learn more about our solution to this problem:


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