A Project Manager’s Guide to Building a Highly Functional WordPress Website: Advice to Clients and Agencies

WordPress is the most prominent Content Management System in the digital arena today. Over 34% of the entire website sample space is courtesy of WordPress’ plug-ins and themes. It may seem confusing, at first, to choose from the gigantic pool of CMS’s available. But once you have narrowed it down to the most popular and equally efficient CMS- WordPress- your worries shall disappear in thin air.

A lot of WordPress clients are confused between the three options offered to build a website, i.e., Free Theme, Purchase Theme, and Custom Theme.

Through the medium of this blog, we’ll try to uncover the efficiency of the three options and find out the most flexible one – from a Project Manager’s point of view. We must remember that as a service provider our main goal is to guide our clients to fulfill their requirements.

Free Theme

Free Theme is the most convenient form of using WordPress as your content management system. It includes choosing an appropriate theme from the list of presets offered to you and working with it until you get your desired website.
It is the easiest way to build a website, but as the saying goes, everything free comes with certain limitations.

Purchase Theme

The Premium Theme is a collection of pre-set themes that enables developers and clients to choose from a pre-defined list. Prominent themes like Theme Forest or template Monster allow both parties to visualize their website without having to go through the pain of coding over 1000’s of lines. In addition to choosing from a list of prefabricated themes, a developer is allowed to make changes to the functioning of the website by using a set of plugins.
While it is easy to download a theme and build a website around it, sometimes an extra set of codes could affect the speed of your website.

Custom Theme

A custom theme website is built from scratch and involves an intense client-developer discussion about the look and feel of the website. When building a custom themed website, one may use the PSD to WordPress process, which involves creating an original design in photoshop and integrate it into WordPress. The process to create a custom themed website is something like this:

  • Brainstorming session with the client to figure out their requirement and create a rough outline
  • Get an approval of the wireframe created
  • Go through the Layout Creation Process and get the Colours approved
    Slice the layout into a responsive HTML
  • Add the desired content and functionality
  • Quality Assurance
  • Site goes live

As a project manager, it becomes imperative to understand the efficiency of each theme in various cases. While the Free Theme is the cheapest way to go, it may not be the correct way. Due to its inflexibility, not-so-unique options, and unreliability, it may be an option to choose when your hands are tied.
To identify the correct usage of the two themes, i.e., Premium Theme and Custom Theme, we shall look at criteria within which they may fit.

Project Manager’s Advice on choosing between Premium theme and Custom Theme

As a client, if you require a small website that fits within a limited budget and which doesn’t need major functional changes, then the Premium Theme is the right way to go.
Before building a website, both developer and client must sit together to chalk out a rough sketch of the website. This process could save a lot of lines of unnecessary coding and re-creating a website later.
Let’s consider a case that justifies the usage of a Premium Themed website.
If your client chooses to build his website within the premium theme, despite having the requirement of a custom theme, that is where you, as an agency, stop him and discuss the implication before plunging into building it. But let’s say you plunged, anyway. Then the order of events that take place are something like this:

Update Mishap:

You pick a premium theme from the list of pre-sets and modify it to suit the client’s needs by adding a thick layer of codes into it. Later, when WordPress releases an update, the website may crash due to the incompatibility of the codes you’ve added.

Additional Feature Crash:

Let’s say that the update did not affect your code. So in yet another case, when the client wants you to add a new feature, this would mean a plunge into a forest of codes to make sure that the additional set of coding doesn’t crash your website.

Now, after various trials and errors, you decide that when the criteria are to build a unique website that will require modification, constant updation to inculcate updated features, and high speed as a result of less coding – Custom wordpress theme development is a suitable option for you.

The Takeaway:

Each theme has its pros and cons; as a developer, you need prowess to chalk out the usage of the theme according to the situation. You can only create a highly functional website when you truly understand the nature of each theme and its best fit.

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