Theme, Plugin, or Both?
One great thing about WordPress is that it is so versatile. If you need a feature, then there is probably a solution out there that can help you accomplish your goals.
Despite this, sometimes all of the potential options can become overwhelming. As soon as you pick one, you start to wonder if you made the right choice. In the end, your eye begins to wander to the other solutions thinking that they must be better than what you picked.
Again, this is the result of having so many potential options. Options are great, but they also lead to situations like the one described.
In the WordPress world, lately this dilemma often arises when deciding to choose a theme for functionality, or to use a plugin.
The correct choice depends on your situation.
When choosing a theme, there tends to be a larger learning curve as themes often leverage multiple plugins. If you are starting your project from scratch, then a theme could be a viable option. You’ll have plenty of time to come up to speed with all of the plugins necessary.
That said, you really need to examine what it is you are trying to accomplish. If the functionality you need can be delivered from a plugin, then you may have more freedom from a theme perspective. In other words, you don’t have to worry about being locked into a particular look or feel.
The choice isn’t always between a plugin and a theme. There are times when you can choose both. Sometimes themes have ways of uniquely using plugins that ultimately will give you more possibilities. By way of example, this theme has gone out of their way to build in LearnDash specific support and templating. They bring benefits of the theme while LearnDash carries the power of a plugin.
Before beginning your project, write down what functionality is a must. With that in hand, you can then see if you should leverage a theme, a plugin, or maybe both to meet these needs.