Although I went to school for web design I basically taught myself HTML and CSS. I am generally an organized person, so I always kept my CSS neat and organized. So if someone had to pick up where you left of they code without a huge amount of trouble.
Since joining the Vancouver WordPress Community I met Christine Rondeau who instilled in me just how standards are so important. I have been using her blank themes for WordPress development for a number of years now. I’ve also collaboration with Christine on a responsive blank theme For WordPress development.
Another Vancouver WordPress developer Joey Kudish had done the same for Christine’s blank themes and pickup up a lot of good habits from those two and many others.
This past month I had two examples of how important this truly is!
One site was small but needed to be professional and only had a three week timeline from start to finish. I took Christine’s Bold Headline theme from the WordPress Theme Directory, Changed the font, moved a few things around, added my own footer and a couple other style flourishes. The client love it, deadlines were met everyone was happy. But it all started with Christine’s Bold Headline (which originally started off as a Underscores default theme).
Christine had a good foundation with Underscores and made Bold Headline
I had a good foundation with Bold Headline and made my clients deadline.
The second example was less so.
It was a theme that was purchased from a theme house and I was contracted out to make a number of similar changes to this theme. A font change here, a new footer there and a couple other style flourishes to give the theme it’s own feel.
(Don’t judge a book by it’s cover some theme houses have great code and awesome developers working for them.)
After checking the support forums of the theme developer he didn’t provide any support if a single line of code was changed to his theme. If it wasn’t in the customizer. Don’t try it and if you do I can’t help you with it. Also it was said this theme could be used with the current version of WordPress btw.
I now know why he provides no support to making even slight changes to the theme. The theme’s is a mess of hacked code with no rhyme or reason why it was done. Italics tags with the italics removed, anchor tags with both absolute and relative positions to them (you should never apply a position to a anchor tag anyway) … I could go on but it makes me cringe and nothing was commented…
Now I am not without my abilities and I was able to modify the existing theme to suit the clients purposes and they are happy with there site.
But both themes have left me with two very different feelings on completion.
The first theme I’d gladly work on again. I can adapt change to the clients needs and anyone with WordPress, HTML and CSS knowledge could work on this. They need some plugin that changes the functionality of the site. Shouldn’t be a problem.
The second theme: I never want to see again… Not because the work I did was of poor quality, or I am ashamed of what I did. But because any small amount of code change could completely break the theme. Just to change a icon took over an hour and for no good reason. Who know what will happen if or more likely when you want to add something to the site.
Coincidentally both projects came out to similar prices.
So the moral of this story is to always start with a good foundation or else you’ll be living with a website that feels like this:
1 thought on “Always start with a good foundation”
Thanks for the kudos Roberts. You’re right having a solid foundation is important. I love working with underscores, but only ever use it when working on sites for the theme repo.
All my custom themes are based on my starter theme and I’m constantly modifying my starter theme. It’s not perfectly and never will be, but at least I understand all the code that it’s there.