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Custom v. Modified WordPress Themes

I recently came across a post on ProBlogger about designing a custom WordPress theme for your blog. If you don’t already know how much I admire and appreciate WordPress as a blogging tool and content management system, then let me tell you now. I love WordPress!

designIn September, when I was in the process of looking for someone to redesign Too Shy to Stop, I had to decide if I wanted a designer who would modify an already-existing theme or someone who would create something completely custom.

(Pictured at left: Design is the part that you don’t notice, by anikki6)

Obviously, a custom theme is more expensive, but it’s worth the cost if you want your blog/website to look memorable and unique.

If you need a starting point, Revolution2 and Thesis (mentioned in the ProBlogger post) are basic themes that allow for a lot of customization. You will probably be very inspired if you spend some time looking at websites that use these themes.

For Too Shy to Stop, I decided to go with a completely custom theme, designed by Always Creative and programmed by Bill Erickson. I’m not going to lie; communicating my vision and needs to them was not an easy task. If you’re not completely sure what you want, a custom theme may not be the best option for you. However, I was able to point them to some websites (i.e. Slate and Salon) that I admire, and they found the common design denominators.

If you do decide to hire a designer to create a custom theme, don’t worry if it’s not perfect at first. You and your designer will probably go through several revisions before you are happy. Don’t settle for any design that doesn’t represent you as an individual or a brand. It’s part of the process!


  1. I <3 WordPress! So far, I’ve hacked my own code with mostly good results. But pro designers are great for achieving that signature vibe.

    Curious: What kinds of fees do pro designers charge to personalize an existing WordPress theme?

  2. great post man , this theme is really classy

  3. Laryssa Laryssa

    Yes, WordPress is amazing, and I cannot say enough good things about it. I highly recommend the book “WordPress for Dummies” by Lisa Sabin-Wilson ( She has a lot of great tips for jazzing up a WordPress site.

    When I was shopping around for designers, I found that a lot of people charge around $200 to personalize an existing WordPress theme. However, some of the themes cost money, and you have to purchase a license to use them.

    The most extravagant quote I got from a designer was about $20,000 for a completely custom theme made from scratch. You can do so much, and it fits every budget. If you know anything about CSS, you can screw around with the theme yourself!

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