The Argument Against Pre-built WP Themes
Getting a custom WordPress theme can be both expensive and a great way to give your users a custom experience. But is it really necessary? I mean, there are some 10,000 themes out there already that can be purchased for a $100 or so, instead of shelling out thousands of dollars for your own theme. Why go the custom route?
Themes are Meant to Be Customized to Your Needs
When you buy a prebuilt WordPress theme, it typically comes with a lot of options. What background color do you want? What fonts? Do you want two columns or three? Here’s where the first and foremost issue arrives: yes, options are great, but every option you choose, there are 20 more that you aren’t choosing. That means a server full of a bunch of files you don’t need, that means a website that’s calling in a bunch of files you don’t need, and what you’re left with is all around bloat.
But most of all, even when a site comes with 50 options, not a single one of those was conceived specifically for your business. You’re getting the same options that are available to the rest of the world, and specifically aren’t getting the one option that’s best for you.
Just consolidating these files into one, not even touching the CSS itself to optimize it (see below), I reduced the pageload time by over a second.
Again, once you start providing users options, you need to start adding in code to support those options. More CSS calls. I see a lot of unnecessarily nested divs. Images that aren’t even close to optimized are abundant. I found one background image that was 1234px x 597px to be used in a div that’s only 960px x 140px large. Cropping it and optimizing it in Photoshop reduced the filesize from 17kb to less than 1kb. That’s just one file, and that file never should have made it into the production version of this theme in the first place.
Long story short, out of the box and customized, the Alyeska theme as implemented on my client’s site was throwing out some 78 http requests, taking over 11 seconds to load, and with a total file size of 937kb.
With the tweaks I was able to make, I reduced that to 43 http requests, 4.75 seconds load time, and knocked the total file size way down to 624kb.
So the bottom line is, having a custom site can easily double how quickly your site downloads (assuming it’s built by the right person), not to mention the benefits of having a site the experience of which is tailored specifically to your needs.