A WordPress Themer Versus a WordPress Developer

There’s a huge pool of talent in website design and development. Look at talents axed towards the use of WordPress and we see even more groups; WordPress developers, themers, and plugin creators. What is the difference and what does your business need?

What is a WordPress themer?

Before diving into the types of WordPress users, let’s give some context. WordPress is a content management system allowing users to manage content without needing to know a lick of programming. The convenience of WordPress is that by using it correctly a website’s theme can be swapped out without having to rewrite every bit of content each time — the look and feel is its own module: the theme.

A WordPress themer is usually a designer who relies less on coding than a developer. A themer will often find an existing theme which meets most of a client’s requirements and then tweaks the look and feel to match a branding standard.


Themer’s are usually less expensive than developers and plugin creators because the brunt of the work has already been done by a theme developer. A lot of themes are feature rich and relatively easy to customize on a short amount of time. Websites can be deployed faster this way than by starting from scratch.


While a themer costs less they’re often not as good at customizing themes which need to perform very specific tasks. If a pre-made theme doesn’t offer a specific feature which is crucial for a particular business model, then a solution might end up being hacked together through a combination of various plugins with some seriously limited coding. Solutions MacGuyvered together can potentially make a site more vulnerable to attacks (especially when more plugins than necessary are needed to workaround a single feature).

And since theme developers want a return on investment they will add as many features as possible into one theme. This can give a lot of flexibility but it can also bog business owners down in options. It can cause headaches when a website’s layout breaks while making a change that seemed simple or when it causes a website to be a lot slower than it should be when working in the administration dashboard.

What is a WordPress theme developer?

The WordPress developer is like the themer, however, their skill set tips towards the programming side instead of the design. They also develop websites from scratch and don’t rely on a themes found online. WordPress developers take a client’s requirements, have them put together by a designer, then chop up the design file into HTML, CSS, and javascript.


A WordPress developer building a site from scratch has the flexibility to develop a website which meets client requirements to the letter. They have no constraints and don’t have to work around any limitations. Also, since the custom themes they create only have the features requested and needed, clients are not bogged down by a plethora of options and their dashboards only have the necessary administrative pages needed by each business.


Developers who implement custom themes from scratch are a lot more expensive. Turn around time for a project can be a lot longer since there’s no jump off point.

Some developers might decide to take shortcuts which can add vulnerabilities. This lowers website security. And developers unfamiliar with WordPress best practices might use techniques which would break the website upon upgrading WordPress to the latest version.

What is a WordPress plugin developer?

While we grouped the plugin developer into this subgroup of website service providers, they actually tend to have a different role. As mentioned, WordPress is a very modular system allowing users to slide in features at the click of a button. For WordPress websites which don’t need an overhaul, but might require new features, a plugin developer is likely the best solution.

Developers typically meet clients in person, gather requirements, and then build these new features separately from the current site so that the integration of these new features is seamless. There is a lot of overlap between a WordPress theme developer and a plugin developer as they both have the same skill set. But for websites starting from scratch, a theme developer would be able to roll all of the required features straight into a fresh theme.

The WordPress plugin developer shares the same pros and cons as the theme developer. Here at Impeka, we classify ourselves as theme and plugin developers, it’s a lot more pleasant to create a measured solution right from the starting line!

What do you need for your next project?

If you need help figuring out the best options for your business, drop us a line at [email protected].