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Graphic & Web Design

Why you maybe SHOULDN'T have a Wordpress site built.

Posted on: 19 August 2017

There’s probably thousands of posts and articles extolling the virtues of Wordpress and why it’s simply the best thing you’ll ever do for your business. Unfortunately though, these articles and posts tend to be written by folk who want to sell you a Wordpress site… and they don’t always have your best interests at heart when they tell you you need one.

Wordpress development done properly is great but the amount of developers actually doing it properly are getting few and far between.

When developed for at it’s absolute best, Wordpress is an excellent platform for building a fantastic content managed site… most will charge you through the nose for that, but are they actually doing what they claim?

Judging by the displeased clients who occasionally come my way having already (or just) got a Wordpress site, they’re either not happy with it or the developer doesn’t want to know about fixing it… the percentage of developers doing a ‘quick’ job is getting higher every year.

Install Wordpress, buy and install a theme, tweak it for your client’s requirements? Really?!?

Sounds a tad easy doesn’t it? There’s a growing number of Wordpress developers who ‘churn out’ sites at a fast rate by letting someone else do the hard work for them, by buying a pre-made theme and simply ‘tweaking’ said theme to fit your business and branding. It’s quick, dirty and allows them to get a site done quickly whilst putting in the minimum time and effort. Though you won’t be charged for the minimum time… you’ll pay through the nose for their cut corners.

Meet Lisa (not her real name)

Lisa came to me after being twarted trying to get her website finished by the (fairly big) Sheffield (and London) based web development agency she commissioned to build it. We’ll not go into the ethics of charging someone for a site that wasn’t finished to a client’s satisfaction and save that for another time.

I downloaded a copy of her site to my server to take a look and make the edits she requested and this is what I found;

  • There was no custom theme designed. A $59 theme had been installed and all changes to the look and feel of the site were controlled by the control panel the theme came with.
  • The control panel didn’t work properly and often changes made to the design of the site were not reflected in the live site.
  • The theme didn’t contain any editable template files so completing the edits the client required me to do were practically impossible.
  • The Wordpress interface was bloated with plugins that the client didn’t need, didn’t use or had no requirement for. Most were very out of date and causing issues with how the site loaded.
  • The site didn’t look too bad on desktop view but viewing in mobile though revealed a whole host of layout issues.

The above five points would also seem to indicate why the developers themselves were unable to make the edits the client requested and kept Lisa hanging on for 3 months finally refunding her and washed their hands of the whole affair.

In addition to this content the developers had added to the site for the client were actually causing the layout to break on mobile and tablet devices, not great at all.

£800 for half a job and a site that doesn’t work the way you want it to and a developer who won’t fix it? Doesn’t sound right to me. Still want that Wordpress site you’re being pitched now?

I’ll build you a Wordpress site if you really want, but the alternatives are usually better, give a more professional result and can do everything Wordpress can do and more. Don’t get me wrong Wordpress is still a great piece of software if used professionally and many 1000s of people worldwide use it and develop for it incredibly well. I have no beef with Wordpress… just some of the unscrupulous folk who develop for it.

My process always runs like this:

  • Bespoke design is created to the client’s specifications and needs.
  • Any amends to the look and feel are actioned at this stage
  • The page templates are coded up in valid HTML5 and CSS
  • The templates are incorporated into a content management system (CMS) and any content the client has is loaded in and any tweaks made to the design and code to incorporate ‘real’ content.
  • The site is loaded onto my development server for the client to add any further content or approve.
  • Site goes live when the client is happy.

I find the above process works incredibly well and any client who sees a fully working site first instead of visuals (either flat image files or coded individual page visuals) should be suspicious of which corners their developers are cutting in order to get to this stage. Any agency who delivers the “Install Wordpress > Install Theme > Tweak” workflow will miss some or all of the above steps. They’ll save time… but the client will ultimately lose some/all creative input on the design process.

Don’t get something sold to you… expect better.

by Nik Gill   |   Posted in: Clients, Web Design,

Nik Gill

Nik Gill

I’m Nik and I’m a graphic designer from Sheffield. I love design, be it web design, logo design or Print Design and I’m generally excited by fabulous design!