The number of online businesses is growing every single day. Statistics show that there are already over 12 to 24 million e-commerce sites worldwide. While that number means consumers have plenty of choices to buy from, that also means you will have to do a better job with your business when it comes to standing out.

One way you can do this is to change the look of your website. If you’re using WordPress for your site, you’re in luck, as WordPress has over ten thousand pre-designed free themes available to change up your website’s appearance. They’re also ready to be used, so it’s only a matter of finding a theme that you like and reflects your brand, right?

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But if you want to take it a step further, why not invest in custom-designed WordPress themes that you can tailor to your specific business? After all, they have many other advantages over themes that someone else designed.

And if you’re thinking about it now, well, keep on reading. You’ll find out why custom WordPress themes are valuable to your business. You won’t only transform your website’s appearance, but you’ll also truly level up your online presence.

What is a Custom WordPress Theme?

A custom WordPress theme is a theme that is made from scratch or modified code that is tailored exclusively for clients who commission its design. It’s different from premium themes, which are available to anyone willing to pay but lack the same level of uniqueness.

When you go for making highly customizable WordPress themes, you collaborate with a WordPress developer and focus on your business’s specific requirements for a website. This involves personalizing the theme’s appearance, features, and functionalities. The result will be a theme that ensures you have a one-of-a-kind digital representation solely for your business.

Why Custom Themes are a Great Investment for Businesses?

One thing you should note regarding ​​custom WordPress themes is the cost. Getting someone to build your website can range from $75 to about $115,000, depending on what you have done. That’s not even including the cost of WordPress website maintenance.  

So is the cost worth the investment? Yes–and in no particular order, here are some reasons why: 

  • You’ll have experts to help you out.

Since you have already gotten someone to develop and maintain your site, you’ll have fewer things to worry about. For example, they’ll be responsible for keeping the theme and plugins up to date and keeping your theme, website, and business secure at all times. They’ll also ensure that you’ll have ease of use when posting anything on your website.

  • You get a unique design that really suits your brand.

Getting a custom WordPress theme lets you have a website that won’t look like anyone else–very advantageous, especially if you need to stand out, right? But more than that, it will reflect your brand’s identity. You’ll get a design with elements that will make your website pop and leave a good impression on your visitors.

  • You’ll only get the functions that you need.

Plenty of pre-designed websites have plugins and other functions that may not necessarily reflect your business needs. But with a custom design, you can tell the designer what you’re looking for. They can also recommend to you what you’ll really need depending on your business.

That means you can be sure you’ll get a user experience your target audience will enjoy. Since your theme will not be bloated with features you don’t need, you’ll have a website with faster loading times. More importantly, you’ll have better conversion rates as a result!

  • Custom-designed WordPress themes are more flexible and scalable.

Whatever level your business is on now, it will not stay that way forever. Eventually, it will grow, meaning some of your needs, including website requirements, will change. If you’re using pre-designed or free themes, you can’t be sure they’ll meet your changing business demands. 

In contrast, custom WordPress themes offer the flexibility to accommodate future changes seamlessly. Your developer has the expertise to modify and enhance the theme based on your evolving needs. Whether adding new functionalities or adapting the design to align with rebranding, your developer possesses the necessary knowledge and access to the theme’s code, ensuring a seamless transition to meet your business’s changing dynamics.

  • You can already implement SEO best practices.

Since you have a brand already, you also likely have a marketing strategy ready for implementation. And with custom-designed WordPress themes, you can tell your designer to design with SEO or search engine optimization in mind. That means they can already think about how your website will be found by your target audience and what kind of design would make your visitors become paying customers. 

They can apply relevant keywords and list business data onsite, for starters. They can also develop the site structure better than pre-designed themes for better search engine visibility. And when you publish your site or go live, it should be faster for Google to index your site eventually. 

Who Should Use or Build Custom Themes?

While custom themes have great benefits, they can take a while to be built and are expensive. So when should you take the time to wait and save up for one? Here are four things to consider:

  • If you can actually afford it. If your business has a lot of investors and backers who see the value of investing in a theme that’s unique for your business alone, then go for it. Or even better, if your business has a lot of budget on hand already, then you should really get a custom theme for you. That way, you can have a theme that reflects your brand without compromising on other needs you might have for your business.
  • If you’re already sure about your look. If you have a business running right now and are unsure about your final look or branding, you might want to skip the investment in a custom theme for now. Focus on growing your business first–transition to the custom look and theme later.
  • You have a business with special needs. For example, you’re a restaurant. What if you can’t find pre-made themes with menu options or order forms? And even if there are plugins that offer those functions, you can’t be sure that the pre-made themes can support those plugins. A custom theme might suit your requirements better.

What should you keep in mind while creating a custom theme?

So maybe you’re now talking to a developer and inquiring about highly customizable WordPress themes. But before jumping into custom theme creation, keep these in mind:

  • Your objectives. The more you know what your theme can do and what it looks like, the better. Ask your developer everything you can about the design, its function, and the user experience you want to provide. A clear vision from you, the client, will help your developer ensure that the final product will meet your expectations.
  • The user experience. No matter what you want your theme to look like and what plugins you want to be installed, you must ensure that your visitors will have the best experience possible. Prioritize simplicity and readability over fancy visual looks and effects. Ensure your website has fast loading times and is accessible even to those with slower Internet connections.
  • Security. Ensure your developer follows WordPress best practices for security, such as installing plugins that improve security or deploying 2FA. That’s so you can be confident that your custom theme protects your website and, more importantly, your users’ data.
  • SEO. Incorporate SEO best practices into your custom theme. Do proper HTML markup, meta tags, clean URLs, mobile responsiveness, add the best SEO plugins, and so on for better website visibility and search engine ranking.
  • Documentation and ongoing maintenance. There should be a clear way to document the development process, as well as a way to trace any changes. That will help you and your developer with future changes, maintenance, and any troubleshooting that might be needed.

Importance of Testing Your Custom Theme and its Every Version

Since you have a custom theme built, this will be the first time it will be used anywhere. You won’t have any testimony or feedback about its performance. That means you should test before pushing your theme–and your website–live. It’s better to find out if you have bugs when testing than when you have already taken your site live.

Ask yourself the following during the testing period:

  • Functions and Performance: Are all your intended features working, or are any bugs or errors that need fixing? Is it responsive to different mobile devices? How are the site speed and loading times? Will visitors enjoy browsing your site for a long time?
  • Compatibility: Do your website and theme look the same in different browsers? Are they displaying correctly and consistently, even in different devices and operating systems?
  • Security: Are your site and theme really secure, or are there any vulnerabilities or loopholes? Are your visitors’ important data protected?

Remember, people who don’t have a good experience on your site will leave. And if you have theme errors, you’ll likely have to take down your website again to fix it. Both of these will affect your Google rankings, making your work harder when it comes to getting your page to rank once again.

Also, even if you’re not a tech person, don’t leave the testing to your developer only. Ask for a way to access the theme and test it, and give feedback as a user.

Test your Custom Theme Online without Hosting it on the Server.

How to Test a Custom Theme?

The best way to test a custom theme is to use a WordPress staging environment. That way, you have a risk-free way of trying it out and discovering any bugs when you tweak the appearance or add plugins. You can test all you want, even up to failure, without affecting your site’s SEO or risking a bad visitor experience. 

You can always set up a WordPress site for local development, but it is very time-consuming. For a faster alternative, look no further than InstaWP. You’ll be able to come up with a WordPress staging site in less than a second, all for free!

Using InstaWP for testing your theme

Here’s how to set up a test site with InstaWP.

1. Sign up for an account.


Do take note that you can use InstaWP for free even if you don’t have an account, but it will only be up for around 8 hours:


If you’re going to be doing a lot of testing, better to sign up even for a free account, as your sites will last for two days–more if you upgrade to one of the paid plans.


2. Click the + New Site button in the middle of the screen or the Add New + button on the upper right. Either will take you to the next screen.


3. In this next screen, you can choose WordPress versions and what kind of WordPress site you want to test. When you’re done, click Create Site.

4. Press Magic Login in the next screen to go to your WordPress test site.

5. You’ll arrive at your test site, which handles just like a real WordPress site.


With this test site, you don’t have to wonder how to install custom WordPress themes. You can simply upload it–again, just like a real WordPress site! And when you’re done testing, you can even export it to a live site.

Benefits of Using InstaWP

Why use InstaWP to test your theme? Here are some of its useful features:

  • It’s free. As mentioned above, you don’t even need to sign up for an account. There will be some features that you can’t access, but as for testing, you won’t have a problem. Do all the testing you want!
  • It saves you time. You won’t have to manually set up a WordPress test site. With just a few button presses, you’ll have a test site. All you have to do is upload your custom theme, and you can start trying it out.
  • You can test all you want. You can try different themes and install all available WordPress plugins you want. Even if the site crashes or becomes unresponsive, it’s fine. You can even change the code directly!
  • You can make templates. If you’re trying out different custom themes but want the same plugins installed, you don’t have to manually install the plugins for each theme. You can already save a template on your InstaWP dashboard–the plugins will already be in place when you deploy a test site.
  • It has different site tools. You get full access to the site with FTP, SSH, database editing, and even the capability for GitHub and Slack integration.
  • Details are easy to share. You can quickly share your login details with your team members. That way, they can test out your theme as well. And since it’s just a test website, even if someone does something wrong, you can breathe easily since it’s not your actual website.
  • Going live is easy. InstaWP has different ways of taking your site live. If you’re happy with your test and want to up your site, you can do it from InstaWP directly–no need to do anything else complicated.


A custom WordPress theme for your website is one of the best investments you can make for your business. You’ll get the look, feel, and functions that truly reflect your brand, ensuring a unique and memorable online presence for your customers.

However, to ensure the success of your custom theme, thorough testing is crucial. That’s where InstaWP comes in. With its user-friendly interface and hassle-free setup, InstaWP provides a risk-free staging environment to test your custom theme thoroughly.

Sign up for an account to try it today!