Custom WordPress development: Questions and answers

Custom WordPress Development isn’t a novelty anymore. However, it still raises a lot of questions among the users who are willing to consider it for their sites. Therefore, we decided to have a closer look at what custom development of your WordPress website involves and what are its advantages.

To begin with, let’s define what custom development of WP entails. It means that functionality and styles of a website or an application are manually written. Certainly, this process doesn`t leave aside ready-made technologies such as plugins, themes, server settings, and scripts. However, in essence, it is based upon tailor-made programming specifically developed by programmers and designers upon request.

It is essential to familiarize yourselves with the characteristics of customized development for WordPress in order to avoid misunderstanding and misleading expectations when choosing for it. There are plenty of agencies offering design and programming assistance but a vast majority of them work with page builders or WordPress Lego which are not the same as the customized sites.

Quite often when discussing websites buildout people think of picking up a premium theme that has been elaborated by some programmers and is available for sale on WordPress with further setting it up on the particular site.

Afterward, using page builder extensions such as Elementor or Beaver the site administrator develops a landing page. This brings about one of the frequently asked questions, namely:

1. Custom Build Website VS Page Builder: How Do They Differ?

In the numerous announcements from freelancers and advertisements from specialized WordPress companies or web development firms, it is possible to see offers such as “Custom Web Design”, “Buildout of a WordPress site”, or “Design of a quality and responsive WordPress website”.

While those offers might look attractive at the first glance, they often involve customization of a ready-made design and cost approximately $50 for the assistance.

These offers belong to the category of the page builders, as an entire development of a brand-new site from scratch involves much more, namely:

  • Mapping out of the development field. A programmer or a company checks an existing code, controls everything which should be migrated or re-integrated.
  • A comprehensive overview of the issues which should be managed before a new design would be developed.
  • Customized code and plugins prepared for a particular WordPress theme and functionality respectively. Given the scope of your project and specific requirement, a programmer or agency might need between a few weeks and a few months for this task.

Those steps allow creating a fully scalable, optimized, and individualized site that maximally corresponds to the specific wishes of the client. The drawbacks here are of course longer development period and higher costs.

In the case of a page builder, costs would be lower and development time would also be significantly shorter. However, such a solution offers rather limited possibilities given the theme and its capacities. Other issues like preparation and optimization are overlooked too as a website isn`t customized.

A page builder elaborates a premium theme with a predetermined design and certain characteristics. It creates the pages with the available instruments and components. Certainly, web designers can develop visual elements further on but this necessitates hiring a specialist.

2. Why Should You Opt for WordPress?

Lots of business founders and owners pose this question before they contact a WordPress development firm. This is a sound question as there are lots of platforms that enable creating a business website. They include entirely custom-built solutions like Node or Laravel.

However, WordPress is the best pick for an easily built and interactive website. Its main advantages are:

  • Being open-source with lots of free solutions and learning capacities available for regular users.
  • It has passed a test by time. It has been functioning for 18 years now and lots of issues have been resolved so it operates with a few errors which are regularly corrected in the updates.
  • Being PHP based, it can be managed by developers without little WordPress skills but knowledge of PHP.
  • Being a popular CMS, it is supported by numerous WordPress development companies.
  • For this reason, there is a huge community of WordPress users who can help out with some issues online.
  • It functions well on large and small sites.
  • It’s not just about blogs!

While WordPress is accessible and easy to use for lots of non-programmers, it goes along well with advanced tech stack. It can function smoothly as a Headless platform. There you can combine its data with REST API or GraphQL and create a customer view in the programs like React or Vue.js.

Moreover, WordPress is a perfect choice thanks to its multisite technologies as well as numerous e-commerce and multi-language solutions which can endorse businesses.

3. Is It Possible to Edit New Landing Pages?

Quite a number of site owners and administrators started using WordPress by investing in a premium theme and developing core landing pages with page builders. However, those builders have issues with responsiveness, speed, usability, and positioning of components because of the UX.

Afterwards, dynamically developing businesses contact competent programmers who will assist in scaling up the sites and elaborating them. Yet the outcome depends greatly on what the chosen programmers do, how experienced they are, and what skills and commands do they actually have, and even how much they ask for their services.

A programmer who normally asks not a high price would build a static custom design. This translates into an HTML/CSS document that outputs text on a page. It is impossible to alter such a file. And this situation is related to the question about possibilities to alter and edit the new landing pages.

There are several development solutions enabling editing a website`s content. They include:

  • Builder-like solutions using Gutenberg editor. This option demands knowledge and expertise with the Gutenberg API, React, PHP, UX and CSS to achieve best results.
  • ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) utilized for each on a page which should be edited.
  • ACF with Flexible Templates. This option means editable sections which might be reutilized to create custom landing pages with predetermined compounds.

In essence, it is possible to create a customized site with page builders which all employ premium themes. The flaw of this approach is that the site editors might distort the look and feel of the site. Besides, this option requires more time to implement in comparison with other approaches.

4. Building a New Website: What Does It Involve?

Perhaps this is the broadest question among those which we cover in this article and it deserves a full-fledged overview.

However, we prepared a brief description of the main stages which development of a new site normally includes. They are:

  1. To begin with, it is the preparation stage. This is when information is collected on the currently faced issues with the existing site and requirements to the new one.
  2. Then comes the design stage when ideas about design and content of the site are being formulated. A useful tip at this stage is to provide designers/developers with a brief sketch or outline which they can follow.
  3. Eventually, it is the development stage when the initial appearance or v1 of a website is prepared. Once such a version is ready, it should be tested before the release. Sometimes at this stage multiple additional requests pop up which would need to be integrated by developers too and prolong development period and increase the costs. If the latter exceeds the initial budget, those supplementary requests should be tackled in the post-release phase.

A vast majority of development firms strive to optimize the whole process, including development, demonstration of updates, and testing phase to try out the site, its features, and upcoming version updates. In order to achieve this, the following measures are taken:

  • A development and testing staging which allows users to see copies of the live site. The copies are shown only to the client and the programmers and frequently require an authorization or a password. Then the authorized users might disclose any new features and try them out.
  • A ticketing system which enables tracking requests and updates. It is frequently done in controlled management systems for example GitHub or dedicated project management software for example Asana or Jira.
  • A regular status update to monitor progress, emerging issues and showcase demos of the progress. Depending on the goals and requirements, those updates can be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The status updates should demonstrate to the customers the ongoing situation and serve as an invitation to discuss things which should be altered.

Admittedly, it is possible that some requests were not expressed at the initial stage of the project, so those status updates talks offer a great possibility to discuss them and their integration in the scope of the project.

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