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Contracting WordPress template design and coding guidance

 2:22 am on Dec 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm looking for guidance before seeking contractors to a WordPress Multi Site project with responsive design. The site is not complex and has no functionality, comprising of 2 main templates, being the home and inner pages.

The winning bid will be supplied with :

> A site to base the layout on , and wireframes
> Photoshop files to match branding and artwork from another site in the brand

Can someone provide some indication of the time range allowance I should expect to produce:

1. Custom designed template, and coded to reach 80/100 on Google Speed Test [ if that's reasonable ]
2. Adapted from a theme , to similar speed

I figured 2-4 days would be enough, provided the specs were tight, and the quality of the contractor was good.

Any thoughts and tips to help this project go fast and well.



 2:37 am on Dec 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

IF all you're expecting is for someone to take an existing theme and adapt it to meet the design specs then you might be in the right range - for work hours. But I wouldn't expect them to deliver in that time frame. Some might - but some may need more time given current work schedules, holidays, etc.

Make sure you cover hosting, security, user rights/access, info arch, artwork, SEO, termination, ownership of original code, etc...

Plan for time to allow the contractor to review the theme(s) you suggest for compatability with your design and specs. If they are experienced, they'll look at child theme abilities as well as support on the WordPress forums.


 3:31 am on Dec 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

@lorax - how much time would you budget for a custom built design and coded template ( 1 home 1 inner ) compared to the theme ?

Would 4 -6 days be in the lower range ?

Make sure you cover hosting, security, user rights/access, info arch, artwork, SEO, termination, ownership of original code, etc

The site is an upgrade from an existing site not previously on Wordpress. A current WordPress multi site platform has been configured for use, although those involved hadn't had much experience in setting it up, so there may be some tidying up there to.

The SEO foundations are more or less in place.

I'm receiving bids overall in the 45-60 hours ( 5.5 to 8 days approx. ) . But I'd assume that bidders may discount their time to accommodate the job.

travelin cat

 3:32 pm on Dec 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Building a theme from the ground up is IMHO a huge waste of time and money. There are many superb themes out there that can be easily manipulated by someone with good CSS, HTML and PHP skills. A good developer should be able to take a quality theme and customize it to the extent that it was unrecognizable from its original.

If you do not care that the source code will reveal the original theme like this:


Then using an existing theme is the way to go. I truly cannot see how manipulating an existing theme to match the specs could take more then 8-12 hours.


 4:16 pm on Dec 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

>> Custom template
At least a few weeks. Most developers have a template they've used over and over and just customize it to suit the client's needs. If you're truly buying a ground up build then it will be weeks or more but as travelin cat noted, you don't need to.

IT's better to start with a theme that gets you close to your design AND supports child themes. Then your developer can create a child theme and not leave you with a theme that doesn't have an upgrade path. When you create a truly custom theme, there is no upgrade path >> someone that's taking care of the upkeep to the theme's core functions. If you go this route then all of the upgrade responsibilities fall to you. With the autoupdate feature of WordPress v3.7 you can eliminate the hassle of updating by simply do as I suggest - locate a theme that's close and supports child themes.

In case you don't know what child themes are [make.wordpress.org...] they're simply a way for you to modify a theme without actually modifying the theme's original files.

travelin cat

 4:32 pm on Dec 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yes, child themes are the way to go and as Lorax said, if you use a quality theme developer, they will handle all of the updates as they become necessary and your customized theme will not be affected thus allowing regular updates without any need to worry that your sites look/feel will change.


 10:37 pm on Dec 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks guys , this is really helpful information .

If you do not care that the source code will reveal the original theme like this:


Why would I need to care? And can this be eliminated for a fee to the template owners ? My only concern is sending adverse signals to Google that they might factor in for QA purposes [ probably silly, but thought I'd mention it , post Panda, aside from content and brand requirements ]. I'm nervous about code bases and Google these days. Using a theme might conflict with brand in Google's eye's. Y/N ?

I'm also getting help from the designer, who has produced some great sites - I'd consider him top 3% by Western standards, who can also code, but doesn't have additional time available. So he will focus on the design and help me review the applicants code/performance.

I have no clue about code - just concepts.

He is recommending that it be done in HTML5 and CSS3 to make it lightweight.

I'm hoping for 75/100 + Google Test [developers.google.com...] - is that realistic with average developers ?

One concern I have is that the code will not upset the stability for Google . For example , the positioning of the navigation, that forms a semantic hierarchy that Google doesn't get confused about, and also provides strong PR flow.

I guess a sitemaps plugin will assist, but not with the semantic hierarchy. Thoughts ?

I've gone to ODesk and been deluged by contractors, mostly from Eastern and Central Europe, and India area. The problem is that a lot of these people seem to be developing with budgets for low value business' , with poor design, so the professional portfolios are limited. What process do you suggest for me to quickly hone down to a shortlist, and protect myself from bad code?

Really appreciate the inputs here / thanks.

[edited by: Whitey at 10:50 pm (utc) on Dec 18, 2013]

travelin cat

 10:49 pm on Dec 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

You really need to work with a company that has a track record. The last thing you want is some garbage code developed by a low bidder. Ask for a portfolio and references and get at least three bids.

For the site map plugin, one of the best SEO plugins has this built in so you do not have to have multiple plugins for SEO and site maps.

As far as the Google test, that should not be a problem with any good developer.


 11:16 pm on Dec 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Actually, I've isolated this task stage to " provide PSD File into HTML5/CSS3 and convert to WordPress theme "

It might be easier to focus on that for the 8-12 hours.

Then I'll introduce the nuances later e.g. setting up a table in WP which will populate the theme with locations and categories.


 12:34 am on Dec 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Personally, I would never trust my project to a shop outside the US or UK. Bias based on experience. Will cost you more but you're more likely (not guaranteed) to get a better proejct. Of course, it matters a whole lot if you know what to look for and can scope the project. But in the end, you cannot possibly account for all of the issues and gotchas that will come up so there is a measure of trust involved. Which is one of the reasons I stick with developers I know and trust.


 2:23 am on Dec 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Are page scores for Desktop / Mobile around 80+ realistic using a good WP child theme per [developers.google.com...] ?

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