Shopify: Bespoke Designs vs Purchased Themes

woman buying online

Let’s consider a scenario in which your e-commerce business is rapidly growing, perhaps much more than you ever intended. As you continue to have hundreds of sales on your small site, you realize it’s probably time to move on from your current platform and reassess your options.

If you’ve stumbled across this article, you could be in this position, and you’re looking for advice from a professional Shopify agency, even if you’re already on Shopify and want to update your website. You may be considering buying another theme or hiring an agency to create something more bespoke.  Alternatively, you could also just be browsing the internet for the best options when it comes to Shopify and having an e-commerce business. Whoever you are, and whatever you’re looking for, we have the solution for you.

Keep reading for our list of pros and cons of both bespoke designs and pre-purchased themes for Shopify. We’re going to be as unbiased as possible but keep in mind; we’re going to favor the better option when possible. This will most likely be the bespoke designs as they’re what we specialize in!


macbook with coding. Bespoke Designs


Bespoke Designs

By nature, we’re going to favor this option. Designing a bespoke website for a new client has to be one of our favorite things about being an agency. Having a bespoke design is great for brand experience and creates a sense of personality. We’re particularly interested in collaborating with the client to create a beautifully designed bespoke website that is something truly unique. Having a completely custom-built website that was made from scratch with your brand in mind has many advantages.


  • Custom-builds are flexible and can grow with your brand or business – Hopefully, you will be more successful when you have a bespoke website online which means you’re going to have to be flexible in that your brand image may change. Having a custom-designed website allows you to do this whenever you need.
  • SEO is better for custom builds – The reality of e-commerce is that you want to be above your competitors. One of the best ways to do this to ensure your SEO is better and higher than theirs, a custom-built website will allow you to do this over a theme. While SEO isn’t always your top priority, anything you can do to improve your brand and business is a huge advantage over everyone else.
  • Your website will be custom and not like anyone else’s  – Have you ever seen a beautiful website that has had a lasting impact on the way you perceive other websites? Those are definitely custom-built ones. If you want to stand out from the crowd, that’s one of the only ways to do it when you’re in the e-commerce industry.
  • Faster – When we say faster, we’re talking a lot faster than a typical website. Your customers and potential customers will be impressed. This is because there is much less code that doesn’t need to be there unlike some of the pre-purchased themes.


  • More expensive – We’ll be the first to admit the price of bespoke designs isn’t the most affordable price. However, this is because of the sheer amount of blood, sweat and tears (no, literally!) that goes into making a perfectly crafted website. You’re paying more, but you’re getting a better website in the end.
  • Better suited to bigger e-commerce businesses – Linking to the point above, we would definitely recommend only bigger businesses opt for a bespoke design. Price is something many businesses have to consider, and unfortunately, you may not have a custom-build budget, that’s why themes are still a great choice (or stay tuned for our half approach later on in this article!)


css code. Pre-Purchased Themes


Pre-Purchased Themes

The cost-effective way to enhance how your website looks and feels to your customers is to invest in a theme from the Shopify store. These can be a great fit for any newly launched businesses or anyone who isn’t quite sure of their industry yet. There are so many different options to choose from, and when it comes to theme selection, you may have a problem if you’re indecisive (there are hundreds to consider!).


  • They’re readily available – If you’re planning on moving straight from Squarespace, Magento or Woocommerce to the Shopify platform then themes are readily available at your request, and they look great. While we do believe nothing compares to a custom-built website, themes can look good if they’re used properly.
  • They’re fast to implement – Those of you who want a website up and running in a short space of time may prefer a theme-based website because they’re one of the fastest options in terms of implementation.
  • More affordable – The smaller businesses out there who still want a beautiful website without a huge price always find they will prefer a theme for multiple reasons. The main reason being that themes still make amazing websites; they’re just not AS good as the custom-built ones.


  • Your site may look generic – Having a more generic brand or business may mean that you’re less likely to stand out when compared to your competitors. There are also a few really popular themes, and while they’re good, they’re in use practically EVERYWHERE! We understand the website may not be the overall business itself, but it’s a major part of how your business comes across online, so it’s important to be the best in the industry.
  • The graphics and design are limited– Your ability to customize is limited to an extent because many themes only allow a certain type of design or customization on the site. This can be anything from the structure to the page styles themselves. You have to essentially adapt your design ideas to the theme structure which can be limiting.
  • You may outgrow the template and design – This is simply because, the more successful your business is, the more likely you are to outgrow the theme and its ability to make your customers happy.


laptop with a blog on the screen. bespoke design


Can You Tell the Difference Between a Bespoke Design and Pre-Purchased Theme?

There are few differences between the two when it comes to the aesthetic design. Custom-builds can be a fun and exciting prospect if you have a vision in your head which you’d love to come to life – agencies like us can make that happen by building it. Whereas pre-purchased themes are just as beautiful, but they often lack the personality of a brand, which is especially important if you have been creating an image through social media platforms and other marketing strategies for a while.

In terms of physical differences, the only people that would be able to tell the difference would be coders who could look into the code. They would be able to see the theme template or the custom-built code. However, the everyday consumer of your e-commerce brand isn’t likely to start looking into your code. Despite this, bespoke designed websites still take the lead in this race, for us anyway.

Why Pick?

With all that being said, you may not have to pick either a bespoke designed website or a pre-purchased theme. Why? You may ask! We at Future Holidays offer a theme framework for certain customers who feel it will fit their needs. If you choose this package, we will work with you to choose a theme close to your vision. Then, we create the customization on top of the theme so that it doesn’t look too generic or like the other sites with that theme, but at the same time, it benefits from a prebuilt structure.

This is truly the best of best worlds in terms of affordability and custom-branding as it allows you to add personality to the website but keep the cost down too. This half custom approach is an option many of our clients opt for since it is easier, more affordable yet you still end with a beautifully designed e-commerce website.

It’s time we admit that bespoke website designs are more fitting for anyone with a rapidly growing e-commerce business, simply because they’re a lot better – for the reasons we have listed above! Shopify is a great platform to host your website on, possibly the best around.