Should I update my custom theme or purchase a new theme?

By Ilana Davis

Who’s frustrated with your theme 🙋‍♀️

Both Shopify and Squarespace have many themes to choose from, yet folks still prefer to buy custom themes that fit their needs. Sometimes custom is the only way to go.

Generally speaking though, you can usually find most of what you need in a pre-built theme. A few tweaks can get your theme the rest of the way.

If you have a theme right now that is lacking in some form or fashion, it might be time for you to make a decision. Here are some options:

  1. Work with what you’ve got already
  2. Hire a developer to create a new custom theme just for you
  3. Purchase a pre-built theme

Use what you already have

Nothing says you have to make a change. Sometimes, a few tweaks can make a website feel brand new.

Minor changes can be easily done without breaking the bank. Depending on how much you want to change, you could have a “like new” website in as little as a week or two. Sometimes, a Website Rescue is just what the doctor ordered.

If you’re in the non-responsive boat, sticking with your current theme may be a poor decision.

Hiring a developer

This is a great option if you have the funds. On occasion, creating a custom theme makes sense if your needs are truly unique and if you can justify the expense of a custom theme.

However, I want to clarify one thing.

Let’s say your theme is not responsive. You could hire a developer to make it responsive, but there are a lot of unknowns.

The code quality of your current theme has a significant impact in the cost and timeline. Developers take a big risk jumping into someone else’s code so they may charge more than expected or they may find that much of what needs to be done, takes a lot longer than expected. If the quality is relatively good, an experienced developer may be able to do this fairly quickly and at a lower cost.

If a developer tells you it’s “easy”, I’d have cause for concern. “Easy” is a relative term that tells you absolutely nothing. Ask lots of questions or have someone you trust to help vet a developer.

Regardless if you are updating a custom theme or creating a new custom theme, interview potential developers before moving forward. Make sure you fully understand what’s involved, their support policies during and post launch, the timeline, their refund policy, how often theme updates are made and if those updates are included.

Purchase a new theme

First, there are plenty of free themes in Shopify and anything from the Brine family in Squarespace provide enough flexibility for most sites. Yes themes can get up there in cost, but quality themes like Turbo from Out of the Sandbox on Shopify are worth the expense.

Keep in mind that when you install a new theme, regardless of the cost, you have to put in the work. Themes won’t transfer everything over exactly as you have it, especially when you have a custom theme.

You can hire someone to help get your new theme up to snuff or do it your self. Both are great options. You just have to decide if you want to invest the time into your website which may take you much longer and leave you feeling like it could be better. Or you can invest in a professional that can often make it look like you spent a lot more time and money while giving you a website that may generate revenue for you much quicker.

Remember, anytime you make changes to your store, I highly recommend you create a backup of your theme.


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