By Bill Oxford
Much has changed over the past few years in the world of website design and construction. And most of the changes are for the best. For example, WordPress has matured from a simple blogging platform to a website-building powerhouse. WordPress is an open-source blogging tool and publishing platform powered by MySQL and PHP. Most importantly, it is an easy-to-use content management system (CMS), enabling users and clients to update their websites without frustrating coding, complex software, or paying a webmaster. And what’s even better is that there are thousands of free plug-ins with amazing functionality—especially for search engine optimization—which would have cost a fortune in custom coding just a few years ago.
According to Alexa’s Top 1 Million, WordPress is used by 15% of the world’s top sites and as of August 2011, 22% of all new websites are driven by this tremendous application. It is currently the most popular CMS on the Internet.
Custom vs. commercial themes
There are two ways to create a website in WordPress. One is by designing an interface in Photoshop, spending weeks making client changes and tweaks to the design, and once approved, coding the design into a WordPress theme, all the while hoping everything works with the ever changing WordPress core operating system.
The second way is to buy an existing premium theme and customize the design to the client’s taste. This method has many benefits. It is faster—much faster—because most of the design is built into the theme but not in a rigid way. Think of it as a website framework on steroids. The customizable web frame is LOADED with design options and features you would never get with a custom WordPress theme.
At Oxford, we specialize in customizing premium WordPress themes to create a unique look and brand for our clients.
Why we use commercial themes
At Oxford, we only develop websites using premium commercial themes. There are numerous sound business reasons for this:
- Exquisitely coded and rock solid
- Numerous design variations for customization
- Supported by well attended, 24/7 customer support
- Thoroughly tested and updated constantly with new features
- Fully documented with users/instruction manual
Let’s explore this a little further.
Exquisitely coded and rock solid
For any of our licensed, premium WordPress themes to get accepted for online sales, they are “wire brushed” to ensure that their coding and structure is sound. The inspectors are ruthless, and most submitted sites never pass inspection during the initial submission process. What does get accepted is perfection.
Numerous design variations for customization
A premium WordPress theme has to appeal to a wide audience and that means the design must offer extensive design variations and ways for web designers to easily customize a website to their clients’ taste. We modify premium WordPress themes using the provided dashboard interface options as well as editing the core CSS code. So the look you want is the look you get.
Supported by well attended, 24/7 customer support
This is the best part. Websites are complex. They break. And fixing them is often a challenging and stressful task of searching and testing. WordPress websites can break when WordPress.org releases new versions of their source code or if new plug-ins are introduced or updated. When premium WordPress themes break, there is a support website that is fully aware of the issues and providing a fix even before you have a problem. Plus, they will reply to your specific questions within hours. When something breaks on a custom WordPress website, you are on your own or in the hands of the original coders, assuming they are still around.
All premium WordPress themes come with documented support that fully explains how it works and how to make changes. Think of it as a users manual. You do not get that with a custom theme.
Thoroughly tested and updated constantly with new features
And now for the icing on the cake. The authors of the premium WordPress website themes we license continually test and improve their code. And as new features emerge in open-source technoland, they are included as options within the theme. These might include amazing animations, unique ways to add video, social media links, tabs, and drop-down menu styles just to name a few. And all this cool stuff is FREE when you download the updated versions.
Fully documented with users/instruction manual
Our premium WordPress themes come with a users manual that provides detailed instructions for making changes and update to your website. Often these instructions include “how to” videos.
We only license the best
We have developed many websites for our clients using customized premium WordPress themes and have never had an objection to the designs presented. That is because we only license themes with the highest design standards that are backed by author-supported websites and are easily modified. Our own website was built using a premium WordPress theme.
A prudent business decision
The case is very strong for choosing to have your website designed and developed utilizing a premium WordPress theme. With a purely custom design, hand coded into the WordPress environment, you get none of the above benefits and all of the risk. Sure, your website design will look very similar to the Photoshop file you sweated-out with your designer but at what cost in the future? Designing and building your website using one of our customized, premium WordPress themes is a sound and prudent business decision that will provide continual benefits to your company’s brand, Internet marketing, and overall corporate communications.