If you’re wondering how much this is going to cost you, read this.
What I Do
Custom WordPress themes make up a lot of my work. In a way that’s obvious — WordPress is the most popular platform for websites that there is, its use continues to grow, and the 5.0 release scheduled for sometime in 2018 with the new Gutenberg editor will make it spectacularly better (although opinions differ on the matter). A business, or a person, trying to differentiate themselves or to establish a personal brand needs a theme built to their requirements. That’s what I do.
Your requirements determine my approach, but in general I start from a stripped-down “starter-theme” (I prefer “_s“, pronounced “underscores”, an open-source project of Automattic, closely associated with the WordPress Foundation) and then add what’s needed. Additions always include off-the-shelf plugins to help manage things. Custom style sheets are always done (that’s what provides your branding, mostly), and sometimes custom post types, page layouts, scripts and plugins.
Starting small and building what you need keeps the user interface as simple as possible, making your task of updating content, which is what you should be concentrating on, as easy as possible. Avoiding unnecessary options and extensions that are often found in general-purpose templates speeds things up, not only for you but also for your visitors.
Web Performance Optimization
The concept that web pages should be optimized for rapid loading has been around as long as I remember, but the proliferation of cell phones with their slow speeds and pay-by-the-byte have given the idea new wings — along with a new TLA (Three Letter Acronym), WPO.
A small- or medium-sized business website might not need an expert, but it’s handy if some one has done it before. That’s me! Check this site on Google’s Page Speed Insights for my credentials.
WordPress Theme Help
There are many reasons to use an off-the-shelf theme. The main reason is that they are free and already done so you can get started right now for nothing. The themes installed with WordPress are attractive and versatile and you shouldn’t hesitate to use them.
An off-the-shelf theme will leave a little space between what you want and what you need because they’re written for general use, not for your specific requirements. You can probably live with that, lots of people do, but a relatively inexpensive way to take up the slack is to hire a pro to tweak your theme after you get it close. I am, as you might guess, available for that.
All signs on the World Wide Web now point to custom applications. Seriously. Tremendous advances in technology, specifically the creation of development libraries and the upgrading of browsers to run them, have made web-based applications the hottest thing going. Anybody (well, anybody with the time and the money) can have on their website a piece of software as good as something that few years ago could only run on a desktop, and this has opened up huge business potential — I’m a little overwhelmed just coming up with examples, but think of Expedia or, better, SoundCloud, sites that would be unusable or impossible without modern scripting libraries.
Custom applications don’t have to be huge, though. Something as simple and useful as driving directions based on a location derived from your user’s browser, or a choice of, say, insurance options based on answering a few questions are well within the reach of a small business.
As it happens, I write custom applications (who would have guessed?). Because they can be anything it’s really impossible to provide much generic information, but if you drop me a line I’ll be happy to answer questions.
Joomla! is an enterprise-level CMS (Content Management System), well-suited for large sites with many users. Like WordPress it is free and open-source, uses PHP and MySQL, and will be installed, free, by most large hosting companies. It has declined in popularity in the last few years (but remains popular in Europe), being replaced by WordPress for most new installations but is still attractive for certain types of use.
Like WordPress, Joomla! is theme-based (though they call them “templates”, a term I prefer) and is suitable for off-the-shelf use or custom themeing.