WordPress is not just for blogs. While the original intent was the creation of a blogging platform utilized at wordpress.com, the core platform software available through wordpress.org has grown into the most popular CMS (content management system) available cornering over half of the market share of all websites where the CMS can be identified. It is estimated that over 25% of all websites on the Internet are now built in WordPress.
WordPress is the core application, but it cannot operate without the use of a theme or a collection of plugins – third party software that extends the functionality and utilities available in WordPress.
WordPress core software is “Open Source” meaning it is technically free to download and install. However, make no mistake that there are genuine costs associated with developing a truly bespoke, sophisticated website:
- Hosting & domain expense
- Premium theme recommended
- Premium plugins – potential add-on expenses to obtain licenses (some are one-time purchase, others are an annual subscription with renewals often at a discount prior to expiry)
- Graphic design costs as applicable for any website
- Image purchases as applicable for any website
- Editorial expense (whether in-house or hiring a pro) as applicable for any website
- Ongoing website care – maintenance, security, optimization, content management
- Content marketing
Themes can be free or premium. Creative by Clark tends to prefer working with a handful of truly excellent premium themes that enable our ability to translate a visual design and structure into a bespoke website. All themes are not created equal, and we regard the selection process more than just the cosmetic demo that is presented by the author. We look at numerous factors in theme selection from:
- the integrity of the development code
- reputation of the developer and ratings
- SEO evaluation of the base theme
- flexibility for robust design and layouts
- documentation and training material quality
- support excellence
Currently, the themes we love cost from $50-$80 price range, but that is a one-time expense in most cases with lifetime upgrades (even if the price of the theme increases in the marketplace). Presently, themeforest.net via Envato — the source of many premium themes we prefer — has imposed some new policies that limit support to 6 months with the initial purchase. Some theme developers ignore that new restriction, but Envato provides options to purchase low cost support plan extensions.
While we typically build the site with one of our own theme licenses through the development process, by the time the site is ready to launch (at the latest), we ask that our clients purchase the license independently so there is no question about ongoing access to perpetual updates and support.
Plugins can be obtained free through the WordPress repository. There are many terrific plugins available through this resource. However, quite often one sees a huge flurry after a new plugin surfaces. Plugins authors are sometimes not prepared to handle the required updates with new releases of WordPress along with bug fixes and potential security patches. Then too come all the requests for support or even customizations. Some authors get around this demand by offering a basic version of their plugin for free, but providing advanced features for a premium purchase. That at least helps to cover their overhead for future development commitment and support.
When we select plugins from the WordPress repository, we carefully research their track record to include reviews/ratings and support. Often, we opt to install premium plugins that are generally more robust and have increased pressured on the developers to maintain the integrity of the plugin and provide support lest there be negative reviews that will damage their sales.
Further, Creative by Clark invests heavily in developer level premium plugins on an annual, subscription basis and others with perpetual licenses through CodeCanyon and other sources.
If we already own a license and are authorized to install on multiple websites, we have a policy to provide the plugin on our active client websites on a complimentary basis. We have found this an effective way to pass on a huge value-add to our customers in good standing.**
**We include a one-year website care plan (maintenance) with all new websites we build. To retain our active plugin licenses on a complimentary basis, customers must either be in their first year with the inclusive care plan or opt for renewal or new care plan purchases. If services with Creative by Clark terminate, we detach our license keys but do not delete the plugins or their settings. In a few cases, absent the license API some functionality is limited. Plugins will not update when new versions are available, and the website owner will ultimately have to purchase their own license key, ignore the inability to update (not recommended due to risks), or can remove and replace the plugin.