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1. Introduction

This post is designed to provide those of you procuring WordPress theme development, a definitive guide of the key questions you should be demanding from potential theme developers. And for those developers, you should be prepared to answer all of these questions competently and confidently. Failure to do so will likely result in losing out to the next guy. Established theme developers should pose these questions to themselves and use the answers to self-assess their competency in various areas of WordPress theme development.

If you’re a WordPress developer bidding for a job and a potential client asks you these questions, don’t be put off. They are simply questions to help establish whether you are a good match for their requirements. Any professional developer will understand this, and by raising such questions it shows that you are acting responsibly in your client’s interests rather than solely your own.

Hunting for a reliable and experienced WordPress theme developer is often a challenge. If you’re in search of a developer who can deliver a solution that perfectly meets the client’s needs, and also someone who you can build a continued working relationship with, it’s important not to take your decision lightly. There are many theme developers out there, from all walks of life and areas of the globe. But to identify who is the right one for you and your project, you need to ask the right questions.

2. Key Considerations for Hiring a WordPress Theme Developer

Responsive design and mobile optimization have become a crucial part of today’s website. Studies show that mobile and tablet users this year have exceeded desktop users, which means that the future of websites would be accessed on mobile devices. If responsive design and mobile optimization are not applied to the theme, it could result in a loss of mobile user attraction. Make sure to know whether the developer is familiar with responsive design and mobile optimization. A good developer should have vast knowledge in making a good responsive design, since it’s quite complex to create, and creating mobile optimization should be a must for every developer.

The first step in considering a developer to hire is to draw a line on the experience of the potential developer. This is a crucial step, since developers might say they are experienced in making a WordPress theme while they are not. Question whether the developer had experience in making a WordPress theme for a certain project. If he or she has previous experience, it would be a wise choice since the developer is already familiar with the problems that might occur when developing the theme, which could lead to a faster problem-solving phase. If a developer is reluctant to show proof of his past experience, it would be best to find another developer. A credible developer would have no problem providing solid proof of his past experience, since that would be the best chance for him to be hired.

2.1. Question 1: What is your experience with WordPress theme development?

There are also developers who are very skilled in HTML and CSS but have little to no PHP/WordPress experience. Although these are the basic building blocks of web development, and WordPress themes are built using these languages, it’s important to remember that WordPress is not a static platform. In order to reap the full benefits of a CMS, a good theme will utilize dynamic elements and WordPress-specific functions. Static developers will often try to achieve these things by ‘hardcoding’ the content into the theme, which will result in a loss of admin configurability.

WordPress started out as a simple blogging platform but has evolved into a full content management system. It is written using PHP and uses a MySQL database to store content. It has also become widely used for other application development as a framework. An experienced developer will have a good understanding of PHP/MySQL and how to develop WordPress themes and plugins. They will also have a good understanding of how WordPress works as a CMS, which will enable them to configure themes to make it easier for the user to administer their site.

This is an important question to ask any potential theme developer for two simple reasons. Firstly, a developer’s experience is often reflected in their portfolio, and secondly, a developer’s experience will often have a significant impact on their quality of work and productivity.

2.2. Question 2: Can you provide examples of your previous WordPress theme projects?

If the developer has experience with a diverse range of project types, it’s usually a good sign. It indicates that they can adapt their skills to suit any customer requirements. If you’re planning a niche website for, say, a sports club, and the developer has already created a website for a sports memorabilia store, there’s a good chance they’d be a good fit for you. Ask if they have experience with projects similar to the one you have in mind. Usually, it’s an easier task to duplicate/modify an existing theme to suit a new project, rather than creating something from scratch.

One of the best methods to determine if a potential WordPress theme developer is right for you is to evaluate their past work. By asking to see examples of their previous projects, you can gain insight into their style and skills. It’s also a good opportunity for the developer to show off. If they’re passionate about their work, it should beam through the example projects.

2.3. Question 3: Are you familiar with responsive design and mobile optimization?

Our developers have worked on a range of WordPress theme projects with the concepts of responsive design and mobile optimization. The work we produce is of this standard based on the reason and results. We are familiar with the variety of ways in which responsive design can be implemented, and we proceed with the best solution with the client in mind. In terms of mobile optimization, we frequently use Google’s Webmaster Mobile usability reports as a guide and measure of success for our work. This has resulted in positive results and satisfied clients (see our testimonials).

The chances are that a freelance or even in-house developer will not have come across responsive design or mobile optimization when building themes for clients. The reason for this is there was no real demand at the time and it was considered an ‘added bonus’. Now it’s vital and your developer needs to be familiar with the concepts and demonstrate it on their own site before it can be considered as a quality skill. Responsive design is a setup where the server always sends the same HTML code to all devices and CSS is used to alter the rendering of the page on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration. The three states of content can be fluid, flexible, and adaptive. It must also be run in conjunction with mobile optimization, which is the process of ensuring that a visitor accessing the site from a mobile device will have an experience optimized for that device. This is friendly for SEO as the same URLs are used for both desktop and mobile.

2.4. Question 4: How do you ensure compatibility with different browsers and devices?

First, ask the developer what his definition of cross-browser compatible is. And then throw a few curveball questions: What are your most/least favorite browsers to develop for? What jQuery version do you use, if any? Can you name a WordPress function or method that can cause issues in certain browsers? Next, ask whether the developer will utilize a CSS/HTML framework or if he’ll code from scratch. If he is using a framework, ensure that it is fully tested and functional across all the major browsers. Ask to see examples of other sites that have utilized that specific framework. Finally, always request browser compatibility testing prior to the theme going live. Any decent developer will be firing up BrowserShots on a regular basis.

So here’s the thing. Not all browsers are created equal. And IE6, well, it’s in a class of its own (gutter class?). But that doesn’t mean you can alienate a large portion of potential website visitors. It’s the theme developer’s responsibility to ensure the website layout and design is cross-browser compatible.

2.5. Question 5: What is your approach to customizing WordPress themes?

In conclusion, my aim is to provide the most optimal and up-to-date learning experience for customizing your WordPress theme. With carefully written and thought-provoking content, more in-depth tutorials, and highly intuitive advice, I believe you will find yourself a step closer to achieving your ideal WordPress theme. As the website is still in its early stages of development, there is a lot more to come from WPBdaily, so stick around. With ongoing support and a keen eye for improvement, this platform will continue to be the standard for those looking to optimize their WordPress theme.

All of my WordPress theme tutorials and suggestions use carefully devised content that is aimed to produce the most efficient and thorough learning experience for you, the viewer. If you want to further your understanding of WordPress theme customization, then go ahead and subscribe to my website. This will give you, the subscriber, access to more in-depth tutorials and cutting-edge tips and tricks for enhancing your WordPress theme. In addition to that, subscribing to WPBdaily will keep you up to date on the latest news and changes in WordPress and its community. I am always looking for feedback on my tutorials and ideas for future WordPress theme suggestions. So if there is something you think needs changing or you just have a question, I would be more than happy to hear from you both via comments and the contact form.

2.6. Question 6: How do you handle WordPress theme updates and maintenance?

In all, we take into consideration all changes to the WP platform. This is ongoing and long term and it is important that our themes appear consistent regardless of WP version. Although it is never the first priority, from time to time an old theme may be rebuilt to utilize cleaner code, current best practices and new WP functionality.

Custom theme files often fail to call get_header and get_footer in order to keep the branding seen when logged in to the WP backend and this is problematic on WP 2.7+ due to the admin bar feature so these files have been updated to call the WP default header/footer as needed.

Styles and scripts used in the WP admin page have always been properly localized but are now enqueued rather than hard loaded. This functionality can be seen in WP 2.6 admin enhancements.

The current iteration of the styles included on the theme options page will not always behave as expected when styles are updated due to caching in certain environments so this will be improved by a future release of load options, styles in the form of a separate CSS file built with PHP on the server.

Stylesheets are loaded using an enqueue function which was introduced in WP 2.8; themes specified prior to this version and themes without call to the wp_head function will have messy, unstyled content if they are updated to the Infogeny platform but this is an uncommon issue and means that an update to the custom theme is in order.

Infogeny themes are positioned for easy, harmless upgrades and users who have modified their themes will not lose those customizations during an upgrade. This is made possible by utilizing the WP provided methods/templates for various theme files, based on the template hierarchy.

At Infogeny, and for companies of all sizes and markets that need constant, reliable support, our themes are enriched as WordPress is updated. Since WP themes are children of the WP platform itself, they are somewhat sensitive to ongoing changes.

2.7. Question 7: Are you knowledgeable about SEO best practices for WordPress themes?

SEO can be better explained by an on-site optimization of a site. Changing elements such as tags, categories, titles, meta descriptions, keywords, and header tags will all play a substantial role in good on-site SEO. The developer that understands this will have the knowledge of putting these elements into a WordPress theme. However, on-page SEO usually is a job of an internet marketer but nonetheless a WP developer should have these skills. Off-site SEO is not really a job of a developer; however, the code of a theme will directly affect the way a site is ranked from off-site SEO. An example is how a fast load time due to optimized code can help a site’s rankings. Finally, the functionality of the site will also play a role in how well a site is optimized. A site that is easier to navigate (with say breadcrumbs and quick access to other pages) will be easier for search engines to access and thus better index the site.

WordPress has become a mega player in the world of SEO. The writing that comes with default WordPress is clean code, the photo optimization, and the web optimization plays a very vital role in the way search engines (especially Google) rank a blog site. And it’s not only the on-page SEO but the code behind the theme is also very critical as it will determine what the search engines will find from your site. A developer that knows SEO will know what it takes to create a perfectly optimized WordPress site. An optimized site will lead to better rankings and more traffic – the goal in mind when creating a blog or website. This is why having a developer that knows search engine optimization is crucial.

2.8. Question 8: Can you collaborate effectively with other team members?

The ability to collaborate effectively is a crucial prerequisite for ongoing work with most existing teams. Few will have the resources or inclination to change their internal processes in order to accommodate a new hire. This may seem unfair to the theme developer, but it is a simple matter of cost vs. benefit. The team knows that efficient collaboration is already possible between its current members. It is in a position to weigh the advantage that a new hire might have against the cost of disruption caused by a change in its usual methods. This disruption could potentially result in a net loss if the new hire is unable to integrate effectively into the team. Theme developers who have worked as part of a team in previous roles will be best equipped to convince potential employers of their readiness to collaborate.

“No man is an island” may be a cliché, but it’s an adage that holds true in many walks of life. WordPress theme development is no exception. While certain low-stakes projects might be developed without peer review, brainstorming, or postmortem analysis, any truly professional online endeavor operates as part of a team. Collaboration is difficult and time-consuming, but the end result is superior to what a single individual could achieve working independently. Whether theme developers are seeking to satisfy a client or building an open source solution, it is almost certain that collaboration will result in stronger work. So when a potential theme developer is asked, “Can you collaborate effectively with other team members?” the only acceptable answers are “yes” and “absolutely”.

3. Conclusion

Secondly, you need to ensure your candidate has a sharp eye for design. At Artisan Themes we only ever market ourselves as theme designers, never developers. Our work begins with an idea or a sketch, not with lines of code; and we’re in touch with clients who do exactly the same. Therefore your candidate needs to be someone whose world would end without Photoshop and a cutting-edge design blog. You need to be seeing evidence of a design obsession, not just technical proficiency.

Your goal is to find a true artist in WordPress theme development, not just a technician. The right person will have a genuine passion for web design and an overwhelming desire to create beautiful websites. They will consider themselves a craftsman, not just a coder. If they view WordPress theme development primarily as a gateway to web programming, they’re not the one you’re looking for.

Ruth spends a lot of time defining what skills to look for, and it’s her expertise I’m sharing with you today.

As you might imagine, we at Artisan Themes are just a little bit fussy about who we add to our team. But hiring Ruth, our search ninja, has transformed our business. So we know that finding someone amazing is the difference between getting buy one get one free, and finding a briefcase with $100,000 in it.

Thrilled to unveil wonders? Come inside and discover what makes us unique!

10 Top WordPress Theme Developers You Need to Know About in 2024 (webcasa.com)

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