I think it is pretty well established at this point that I am a fan of WordPress. It has become my go to solution for all manner of projects in the last couple of years and while a number of my illustrious developer & designer associates have rather fallen out with it I’ll admit that doesn’t bother me one jot!
I have become reasonably adept at setting up a new instance of WP on various hosting environments (though the most recent was a head scratcher!) and despite bouts of swearing can usually get the .htaccess file to do what I want. I have settled on a package of standard plug-ins (inspired by Mike) that add the functions I usually need. To this list I’ll be adding the new Jetpack super-plugin from Automattic (once I can get it to effing work). At this point in the past I would usually hand off the project to someone to customize the Theme (usually Stef) but this is another area where the ‘age of austerity’ has had a say. It is increasingly rare for any project to come with any kind of useful budget attached and it is up to me to find no-cost solutions (or at least very, very low cost).
Now I have many skills but WordPress Theme development is not amongst them. I was also looking to offer a little more than one of the standard Themes provide to my upcoming projects. I was at a bit of a loss until I was having a nose around the WooThemes site looking for a) inspiration and b) one of the free themes amongst the ‘premium’ options. It was here I discovered Canvas.
To quote WooThemes;
Every element of Canvas is highly customizable through our options panel, so you can make the design, layout and typography exactly like you want.
If anything it gives you too many options! Thankfully there are a number of support videos and forums that walk you through what you can do with the Theme. For someone like myself with a limited skillset but a pretty strong understanding of things like layout, IA, branding etc it is a godsend. God knows it hasn’t turned me into a designer but it has opened a whole world of opportunity up to me. I can deliver professional looking sites with plenty of functionality that only a few months ago I’d have to dredge up funding for and I can also sketch out functional prototypes for more complex sites that will require more work.
All this for about 45 quid!
Now obviously I realise if I want something unique and beautiful I’ll still need to hire people who can bring their HTML5/CSS3/JQuery-fu as well as some PHP-ninja skills to really get the best out of WordPress. Thing is most of my projects don’t need this – and the more money I can save for my employer on the run of the mill stuff the more likely it is that I’ll be able to magic up some money when I want to do something special.
The first site is a couple of weeks away from launching but I’m sure to mention it here – then we can all see if I’m just fooling myself or if it really is as good as I think 🙂