Posted on August 22, 2017
Clients often come to us with ideas and excitement requesting certain website functionality. We believe virtually everything is possible with WordPress. Due to this, defining our scope of work is really about determining the development hours necessary to accomplish the client goals. Clients may not understand the complexity of their requests and explanation and education is required for us to work together.
We strive to provide flexible, high functioning websites that deliver maximum value.
Achieving our clients’ business goals is always at the forefront. That means that while we present options in website development, sometimes the best solutions is custom theme design, while others times the best solution may be to use an existing theme with some slight tweaking to suit.
Regardless, we start any website development project the same with the following considerations:
- What is the overarching goal and purpose of the website?
- What are the functional requirements to achieve those goals?
- What is the available budget?
- How long is the timeline?
Once we’ve determined the answers to those questions, we delve a little deeper.
- How can we achieve the stated goals while being good stewards of the project budget?
- Will making modifications to an existing theme deliver the desired result?
- If so, which theme should we choose? There are 10’s of thousands but we have favorite starter themes for these types of projects.
- Will the ultimate solution meet all of the needs of the client?
When an existing theme is not the answer, we discuss custom theme design.
Custom Theme Design – What Is It?
In a word, flexible.
Functionality, design and features are limitless in custom website development. If you can think it, we can create it. We outline the project, define the specifics, determine the cost and happily get to work putting it all together to serve your needs.
However, on a practical note, time equals money, so budget is often a reason that custom theme design may not be the answer that best meets the need of the client.
Another reason custom theme design can be challenging from a cost and timeline perspective is that we are often not using an “out-of the-box” solution for site features and functions as well. We will always try to keep costs down by leveraging existing open source software. Asking detailed intake questions is critically important as these features must be specifically determined during the project outline phase. Bespoke custom functionality can always be added, but it will increase the overall cost of the website.
If the budget is limited, it may make sense to discuss the possibility of using an existing theme to achieve a goal that closely meets client expectations.
This method can reduce the amount of time needed in development and therefore reduce the overall cost of the new website. Functionality requests may require custom coding, even when using an existing theme. However, the total hours needed are fewer than the requirements for custom theme design.
The biggest drawbacks to non-custom theme use include:
- Theme Bloat – Existing themes may utilize less efficient code and reduce the speed of your website. Every switch and toggle a theme includes adds some overhead that can result in longer load times that affect the overall health of the site.
- Overwhelm – While it may be possible for your website to have a switch and toggle to be adapted to every whim, it is never advisable. We prefer to keep both the code and interface minimalistic to avoid confusion and conflicting functions.
- Limited Options – Adapting an existing theme to specific requirements can be even more work than having created it from scratch. The chosen theme may use a methodology that is not intuitive to the end user and is difficult for developers to customize.
The bottom line boils down to a satisfying end user experience and remaining within budget requirements. Our job is to deliver a website that meets the vision of our client using the best technology. When a website vision is achievable through an existing theme, we determine a workable solution. Otherwise, we move to custom theme design and guide clients through the process.
Either way we meet our clients’ business goals by providing flexible, high functioning websites that deliver maximum value to our clients. In the end, that is the best fit for all involved.
Do you want to talk more about your theme design needs? Reach out to us. We’d be happy to talk further.