Custom WordPress Theme Design vs. Theme Customizations
Most WordPress users do not understand the difference between the customization of an existing WordPress theme and the creation of a custom theme design. And why should they? They’re users focused on running their business and not on the jargon of WordPress design. Each week we run into this area of confusion and each week I feel the frustration from users trying to maneuver through the maze of premium WordPress themes, graphic designers, programmers, and WordPress consultants. There are lots of WordPress professionals out there and this seems to grow by the day, which makes this whole topic even messier. Today I would like to help clear up the confusion. Both for our readers’ education and so I can point to this post when the question comes up in the next few days. This subject will come up; it is just a matter of which day the question arrives.
Custom WordPress Theme vs. Theme Customization
There is one key difference between the customization of an existing WordPress theme and the creation of a custom WordPress theme design – it is the graphic designer. A true graphic designer is someone who is professionally trained at a university and/or college in the art of design. A professional graphic designer knows colors and fonts are much more than pieces of theme code. A professional graphic designer will see color schemes and typography as part of brand identity and much more than code within the theme. When a graphic designer is brought into the mix, he/she will start from a clean slate and not an off-the-shelf WordPress theme. A graphic designer will work with clients to understand their company, product or service offering, target market, marketing goals, and objectives. The graphic designer will then make sure he/she creates a completely unique website design that matches those needs and requirements. This process is what I refer to as a Custom WordPress theme Design because a professional graphic designer creates a WordPress theme that is unique to the company that purchased it. On the other side of the process is an individual who customizes an existing WordPress theme. There are lots and lots of these individuals available for hire in the WordPress ecosystem. They go by different names and titles, but their role is similar. A WordPress customizer will help a client modify an off-the-shelf theme to meet his/her specifications. The key here is the client is specifying what should be done and providing the design direction.
In this scenario, the client has already picked out a WordPress theme and has a list of tasks that need to be completed. These tasks would include things like changing the color scheme, modifying the fonts, resizing a content area, and styling a plugin to match the theme. This type of process is what I refer to as theme customization because the changes are tweaks to a theme thousands of people are also using. It doesn’t equate to a custom design because the majority of the design is not unique to the user. This type of assistance does not require a graphic designer, because the client already has the base design in hand when the theme was purchased. It simply requires modifications to the existing look and feels. We receive a lot of inquiries for this type of work because there is a huge need for this in the community.