How hard is it to tweak a WordPress website?

Let’s say you’re new in business
and you know you need a web site.
Good for you to know that!
Let’s say you also think it should be simple.

Let’s say your brother/cousin/neighbor says, “Oh, that’s easy. I can set up a WordPress site for you in a couple of minutes. Just pick out a theme, and I’ll tweak it for you.”

You say, “Great, thanks! Let’s go.”

Then your ask your “webguy” (who may also be a gal) to  make some  tweaks: change the colors here and there, add  some functionality,  change the header, add some stuff to the footer, see what it would look like with a red line across the top.

The upgrade process
will probably
take more time and
cost more money.

If your webguy isn’t really top flight, while he may be able to make those changes, if he doesn’t make appropriate comments in the code which neither you nor your visitors will see, when you decide to change things you could be in for a big surprise—heck, he could be in for a big surprise when he can’t remember what he changed and where.

After a year or so (or maybe less) goes by, you decide you’re ready to upgrade.  You may think, “Hey, I already have a WordPress site, so this should be an easy-peasy job to make the changes I want.”

Only it’s not so easy-peasy.  And that process will probably take more time (read: more money) than building the site did in the first place—especially if your  brother/cousin/neighbor  did it the first time for free or almost free!

Each different theme author  could, for example, name different parts of the design with differently. So your new “guy” will first have to decipher what the old “guy” did before any changes can be made.  If the theme you chose was not well written in the first place, it could be even harder to figure out.

How can you minimize the headache of adjusting to your second website?

You do need a website, to prove you’re a real business. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

So here’s my recommendation:

  1. Let your guy set up a WordPress site using one of the popular themes (which is, therefore, most likely to be bug free)
  2. Make as few changes to that theme as possible.
  3. Add as few plugins as possible:
    1. Akismet for spam protection in your comments,
    2. A form generator for your contact page (I love GravityForms!) and, of course, your content.
  4. Then leave your site that simple for a while. Work with it. Add content. Think about what things you wish it did.  Explore the sites of other people in  your business.  Make a WRITTEN list of what you want to change and what you want to stay the same. And then, ONLY THEN, find a REAL WordPress Person to adjust your site as necessary.
  5. Finally, ask if it would be cheaper to start from scratch or fix what you have.
  6. Ask for a written proposal including language about what happens if the “guy” finds that the process is more complicated than originally planned.

We specialize in fixing broken websites. So if you want what you have (or almost) but you want it to do more, then contact us for a complimentary strategy session. I’ll be able to tell you, in probably less than a half hour, about the process and what you should do to be ready for it.

Author: Kerch McConlogue

Harrisburg, PA: A WordPress front end web developer who speaks plain-English to nonGeeks

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