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Building a WordPress Site, Now What?

By August 9, 2016 No Comments

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a PHP-based, open source website and blog creation platform, and a powerful content management system (CMS). There are a variety of reasons to use WordPress to build your website or blog, not the least of which is the level of customization available.  Someone with no development experience could, in theory, set up a blog or a website using one of thousands of available themes, basically a template.  Or at the other end of the spectrum, a developer could create a fully custom site with no help from a theme.  And of course between those two extremes there are semi-custom options from slight theme tweaks to total theme overhauls.  So, when you’re working with your clients, which route should you suggest for them?  

When Should You Use a WordPress Theme?

If budget is your main consideration, using a WordPress theme might be the best solution.  There are a lot of free and premium themes to choose from, as well as a large variety of providers.  Using an existing theme also allows you a quicker time to market, which means that you can have your site live more quickly and for less cost.

Some things you’ll want to consider if this is the route you decide to go:

  1. Make sure the theme provider you choose keeps their themes updated so that you don’t experience issues when WordPress releases updates.
  2. You may need support for your theme.  Some providers offer this with the theme purchase, others do not.  It’s important to know what you’re getting into, and have a source ready should you require support.
  3. Using a theme is cost effective, but you’re locked into the design decisions and aesthetics of the theme.  Make sure you can live with everything because making changes will mean hiring a developer.  

When Should You Customize a WordPress Theme?

Maybe you want to work within a budget but also allow yourself some creative freedom.  Choosing a theme that gets you really close to what you’re looking for, and then doing some tweaks, can be a nice middle ground.  You’re not spending the time and money on a fully customized experience, and you’re not completely locked into decisions that someone else has made.

Some things you’ll want to consider if this is the route you decide to go:

  1. Not all tweaks are small tweaks.  You may request a change to your theme that feels simple, however the implications from a development standpoint may be anything but.  Be sure to check with your development partner before you commit to a change.
  2. There is cost associated with tweaking a theme.  Even edits that are visually simple, like changing a font or moving a content block, may require a developer to go behind the scenes and make changes to the theme’s code.
  3. The more edits you make to a theme the more important having ongoing support will become.  If the theme provider updates their theme, the tweaks you made might not be compatible, and this could mean down time or errors if WordPress releases updates.

When Should You Go Completely Custom?

If you need something completely bespoke to fit your needs, or something that completely ties to the brand in a unique way, then you’ll want to consider creating a completely custom WordPress site with a custom built theme.  Creating a custom look from scratch can allow for increased design flexibility and create solutions to client needs that require no concessions or compromise.

Some things you’ll want to consider if this is the route you decide to go:

  1. Costs are higher with a completely custom look.  Expect an increase in costs associated with digital strategy, design, and development at a minimum.
  2. Timelines will be longer.  A fully custom site may take two to three times longer to design and develop than a site using a standard, out of the box, theme.
  3. Ongoing support will be required.  As with any other option, if you are creating a fully custom website you will want to be sure it is maintained and that any updates to WordPress are solved for in advance.

What Themes Does RocketBuild Use?

RocketBuild works with our partners to first decide if a theme is the right foundation for their project.  If it is, we work to help choose the best theme to fit their needs.  Since most are very customizable, you could theoretically use the same theme for every web project you did, and no two would look alike.

Here are a few we like.  We weren’t paid to mention these themes or the site offering them for sale, and this is not an exhaustive list, it’s just a few we’ve enjoyed recently.

 

WordPress Infographic

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