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Is Your Custom Website Really Just a WordPress Theme?

Have you paid handsomely for a one-of-a-kind custom website? Are you fully aware of how your agency, freelancer, or web designer of choice builds websites?

Unfortunately, many agencies get away with charging high prices for minimal web design work. WordPress is a popular Content Management System designed to make the web development process less of a headache. With its ease of use, thousands upon thousands of WordPress themes have been created to expedite the process even more.

This means agencies can churn out websites at a high rate and receive a high mark up for little effort.

Does your website design agency use pre-built free/purchased WordPress themes? Wondering if you’ve spent your entire marketing budget on a theme that cost your agency a whopping $50?

Here’s a quick way for you to find out.

1) Open your Internet Browser

To find our answer, we’ll be using a developer tool known as “Inspect,” “Inspector,” or “Inspect Element.” Most up-to-date browsers will have this tool in some form or fashion. For the sake of this demonstration, let’s stick to Chrome.

If you do not have Chrome, these steps will look different! Firefox is the next best thing.

2) Navigate to the Website You’d Like to Snoop On

For this article, I’ll show you how our website is built. Click here to open our website in a separate browser window.

For your own purposes, type your website URL or another website’s URL into the search bar.

3) Right-click on the Page and Select “Inspect” or “Inspect Element”

Step 2

This should pop open a section on the bottom or right-hand side of your browser window. This is where website developers can easily debug their websites in-browser. We use it to adjust styles and test what the website looks on different screen sizes.

Step 3

4) Click the “Sources” Tab

Within the left side of this panel, you’ll see a list of files, as well as some other elements. Because this is a WordPress website, it shows WordPress folders. This is an extremely easy way to see if a website was built using WordPress.

WordPress has folders named “wp-content” and “wp-includes” as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 4

5) Expand the “wp-content” Folder by Clicking the Arrow to the Left

This folder contains the design of the website. Within this, you should be able to see all plugins, themes, and uploads to the website.

Step 5

6) Expand the Themes folder

On our site, the Themes folder contains “/titan”, so when you click to expand the Themes folder, you’ll already be in the Titan theme. Within the Titan theme, you’ll see folders for .css and js—ignore those.

On other sites, there can be multiple theme folders within the main Themes folder. A site you may be investigating could look different from this example for that reason.

There’s also this gold mine: a style.css file. This is the tell-all file, and the main thing we’re looking for today.

Step 6

7) Click the “style.css” File

When you click on this file, it will load the CSS for the site. CSS is the coding language that tells your website content and data to appear a specific way.

The file name in your example may be named slightly differently. As long as it has .css, you’re golden. All you need to know about this file is that it will display the credit of the theme designer and developer. In our case, it has our Name, our URL, and a description. 

Step-7

If the website designer or developer did not create their own theme, it would look something like the following examples:  

Example-2

Example-3-

So, is your website truly custom or are you left with a WordPress theme modified slightly?

The web design and development team at Titan Web Marketing Solutions isn’t cool with this practice. We create websites from the ground up (starting with sketches and ending with 100% original code). And there’s a reason we do so.

Of course, it’d be so much easier to lift a WordPress theme off of the Internet and spend a handful of hours modifying it. Plus, if we charged far more than we paid for the theme, we could be rolling in money! But that’s not honest, and we don’t approve of lying to our clients.

At the beginning of our agency history, we used WordPress themes (gasp!) Clients have also come to us requesting that we use a specific theme. But every time we encounter this, we make sure to edit as much of the theme as we humanly can to give the client as close to a genuinely custom website as possible.

There’s a world of advantages to having a truly custom website, such as:

  • Comprehensive content strategy exclusively tailored to your business and desired audience.
  • Little to no design constraints – You’re not forced to have a design or website functionality constrained to only what the theme allows.
  • Full design control – If you don’t like how the design looks, let us know and we’ll change it. We have full control over the appearance and functionality.
  • You won’t run the chance of your website looking EXACTLY like someone else’s. Believe us, it’s happened. We can show you examples of clients who have come to us with websites that look exactly like their competitors.
  • A custom theme is typically lightweight and only has what is absolutely needed to have the site function. Purchased and free WordPress themes tend to contain extra plugins, code, and more you don’t need that will slow your page speed. Slow page speed leads to angry website visitors and low search rankings!

Are WordPress themes a terrible thing? No, of course not. They’re just another website design option, out of the many. What you need to beware of are those charging “custom prices” for websites that clearly aren’t so custom.

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