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Niche vs. Multipurpose – Which WordPress Theme to Choose?

In the last several years, the trend of multipurpose WordPress themes has grown like a wave of tsunami, and a lot of business owners took advantage of all-in-one designs to build their online presence. But what exactly is a multipurpose theme? How does it differ from a regular one? Which one do you need to buy?

A multipurpose theme, as the name suggests, is created to suit for different purposes. It includes a large number of pre-designed pages, extensions, widgets, shortcodes, is compatible with the most popular WordPress tools, and can be used to create almost any type of a website. Whether it is a landing page, an online store, a business website, a portfolio, a magazine, or almost any other site you have in mind. Of course, such mega themes are not created equal. The kinds of sites you can create with a multipurpose theme depend on a theme itself. However, the main selling point remains the same – you can have an all-in-one website creator tool for as little as a price of an ordinary theme.

A niche theme, on the other hand, is built with a specific purpose in mind. Such themes may not have large quantities of pre-built pages, and you can hardly find a huge variety of included plugins in there. But even so, it features a niche-oriented design, and may include tools relevant to your business.

Let’s examine the differences and similarities of niche and multipurpose themes in detail. We’ll take two examples: Grecko, a multipurpose corporate theme, and Jacqueline, a spa salon niche focused theme.

Design

The design would probably be the most important aspect when choosing a theme. The way our website looks says a lot about our business, and we all want to have a clean and memorable brand identity that would resonate well with our customers. Also, a personal preference may often come into play. We can pick one design over another just because we liked a particular color scheme, or a theme layout. Luckily, the number of themes, from which you can choose is extensive, and you’re not limited to only a few options.

Often multipurpose themes tend to have a very neutral, corporate design. Since they want to appeal to multiple businesses, the theme designer often chooses to use blue or green accent colors, sans-serif fonts, and clean layouts with a lot of white space. The main advantage of a simple design is that it would be extremely easy to personalize it, and fit into a variety of niches. In most cases, the theme features allow to customize it easily.

Another thing quite common for multipurpose themes is a variation of available layouts and elements. For example you can find a theme with several header and footer layouts, or a number of home page designs.

Grecko theme, for example, features 8 different header designs.

The downside of a multipurpose design is that you may end up with yet another website that looks like every other site on the internet. Of course, it’s not often the case, but such possibility exists. The alternative for a multipurpose design would be a niche-specific approach.

Niche themes tend to put a special emphasis on design and brand identity, since in this way they bring additional value to the customer and point out the uniqueness of its brand. Such designs prefer to use colors associated with a specific industry. In many cases, a theme designer thinks through the theme’s layout and makes emphasis on the UX of the site. For example, if it’s a site for real estate listings, you may find a search form on the front page of your site, which helps visitors to find a suitable offer faster. If we take a medical template, a designer tends to use colors associated with a medical field, such as blue or turquoise. Jacqueline theme features a peach pastel accent color, and lightweight fonts, which evokes the feeling of relaxation and is typical for SPA websites.

Functionality

However, it’s not only the design that dictates our decision and makes us choose one theme over another. The collection of plugins and tools that comes with a theme also have a large impact on our choice. If a theme has passed the ‘design test’ and looks great enough, we want to dig in deeper and see what it’s got under the hood.

Multipurpose themes tend to include a large number of tools into their package. Some people may find the abundance of plugins, widgets, and theme options overwhelming. However, if you invest some time in learning about a theme and playing around with its settings, you’ll get used to its toolset and might even miss it if you change your theme in the future. As for the plugins, you can always deactivate those you don’t use, and turn them on again in the future, if needed.

Here is an example of some widgets available in Grecko theme:

If you choose a niche theme, there’s also a slight learning curve in getting accustomed to your theme. However, the options are usually more user-friendly compared to a multipurpose theme. Since you have a niche theme, it doesn’t need to cover all of the possible theme uses, therefore you can adjust only the aspects related directly to your business.

Niche themes include plugins and functionality that can be useful for your industry, such as an appointment manager plugin in Jacqueline.

Complexity

Sometimes multipurpose themes can be overwhelming for beginners. If you’re a person who has never dealt with websites before, let alone WordPress, creating a site using an all-in-one theme may take time and effort.
A large theme includes a lot of options and tools, and although you don’t require all of them to create a website, there are some essential plugins and settings pages that you need to get accustomed to in order to manage your site successfully. Depending on a theme author, you may find a rather excessive number of options for customizing the design of your site, some of them in unexpected places.

A niche theme may also feature a number of tools you need to get used to. However, in most cases it’s not as overwhelming as in a multipurpose theme.

Overall, if you’ve had experience with WordPress and websites in general, it would be easy for you to get started with either of the themes. If you’re a beginner, expect to spend some time on exploring the ins and outs of each theme, especially if it’s multipurpose.

Speed

One of the most common problems one can encounter with multipurpose themes is speed. Large themes tend to load slowly, because of a large number of database queries a theme sends to the server. The theme options, plugins, styles, and other components take time to load and in some cases it can really annoy your users.

The reason it may load slowly, is that a shared hosting environment may be limiting to some themes. If you’re using a cheap shared hosting, you may want to upgrade to an individual plan so that your theme perform better. Also, you may want to invest in a CDN service and a caching plugin, which would help to load your content faster.

Although speed may be an issue for a multipurpose theme, it is definitely solvable.

Depending on what kind of niche theme you’re using, they tend to load faster than mega themes. However, if you want to use them to their full potential, they would also be better off on a dedicated server, with a caching plugin and a CDN.

Copy

The tendency of the last several years is going away from “Lorem ipsum” texts in the templates. All the texts in the template should be relevant to the topic. As you can understand, this is especially important for the niche templates. When you buy a niche theme, you don’t even need to write your own copy, just adjust and optimize the existing texts for your project and it is ready to go.

Multipurpose themes also feature custom texts. However, as they are designed to fit multiple types of projects, the texts there might need more profound customization.

Conclusion

In most cases the choice between a multipurpose and a theme depends on your needs. If you value flexibility and a large number of options, a multipurpose theme may the just what you need. Being a fully fledged website builder tool, it can be successfully used by developers to create themes for clients fast.

Niche oriented themes are for those who value simplicity and need a targeted solution for their needs. If you know exactly what you want from a theme, and you’ve found just the right one for you, why spreading out and go for multipurpose? Niche themes often come with specific functionality designed to cover the needs of your industry, and therefore can be more useful for your project.

At the end of the day, both multipurpose and niche specific themes can fit into your project well, as soon as you enjoy their design, and they provide you with necessary functionality. So go on, grab that nice-looking theme you’ve been hesitating to buy, and start building your project today!

Aigars

Frontend web developer and web designer specialized in free and premium WordPress theme development. Started to learn to code 2 years ago and now I am familiar with CSS/HTML/JavaScript (jQuery) and PHP. Obsessed with application performance, user experience and simplicity.

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