This blog post describes pros and cons of having a free Magento theme versus having a custom Magento design from a marketing perspective.
Free Magento Themes:
There are some pretty obvious advantages of using a free Magento theme:
- It’s free. – This one is a no-brainer, you don’t need to invest any money in it.
- It’s fast. – You don’t need to wait for it to be finished, you just download it and use it.
- It works. – Most of the free Magento themes work just fine with Magento out of the box.
However, truth be told, I believe the cons of having a free Magento theme give you enough reason to go for custom design:
- It’s unprofessional. – A visitor (your potential buyer) might realize you’re using a free theme. This will make him wonder, can he really trust your website? Is it a real company standing behind this online store? Can I really give my credit card to these guys? They probably aren’t a serious company if they don’t have money for the design that fits their company’s identity.
- There might be no support. – If something goes wrong, there might be no one to help you. Magento can change a lot at upgrade and some themes might start showing errors.
- There might be no support for new features. – Magento is constantly developing ecommerce platform and new features will always be presented. Some of the free templates might not keep up with Magento’s development and you’ll end up without the ability to use some of the cool new features that rolled out, wile your competitors with custom design will have this advantage.
- The free theme probably isn’t really optimized for best conversion rate. – Some free themes are done with conversion rates in mind, however, the conversion rate optimization usually depends on your niche and targeted audience. A design and layout that works for a certain company might not be so good in converting visitors into sales in your niche.
Custom designed Magento themes:
I will not list disadvantages of custom designed Magento themes since their disadvantages are already listed as advantages of free themes. Here are some really important pros for getting yourself a custom designed Magento theme:
- Unique design that fits your company’s identity. – This is extremely important if you’re into any serious business. Building a strong corporate identity is crucial for establishing a recognized brand. Your online store will not only make you profit with the sales you make, but it will also help build a brand image with your targeted audience.
- Someone you can count on. – If you choose a reliable company to create a Magento theme for your store, you know they will be there once the Magento upgrade comes to fix any potential problems. They will be there to help you change things around once the change is required and they will be there to consult you and share their experience and best practices.
- Unique features. – Your online store is specific, you are a member of some niche. Most niches will require some additional functions that Magento doesn’t support by default to make the best out of your online store. If you choose to work with experienced development company, they will be able to provide you with development solutions for your problems. This is something you can’t get with free or premium Magento themes.