3 Things I Learned Customizing a WordPress Theme

I just finished the overall editing of the Transformation Church website for a client. The client decided to purchase and use a WordPress theme and I was asked to design and integrate the new logo and brand of the church, as well as oversee all editing and revisions of the site. I spent the last 2 days recoding portions of the site, designing the logo, establishing the brand and color scheme, and setting up the Twitter and RSS feeds. Most of the coding is done, but I’ll be working out a few kinks and designing extra slides, as well as helping with furthering the brand for the church. As always, these past 2 days were not a walk-in-the-park. And because of that, there were a few things I learned throughout the course of these two days that I thought I’d share. Here’s what I learned:

1. Be prepared to get outside help when needed.

I had to contact GoDaddy – the client’s hosting provider – several times yesterday with issues with transferring files to the FTP Client. The theme that the client purchased had a few problems with file placement. I even ran into a problem that required me to re-install the WordPress Application into the client’s hosting which stalled the design process several times.

Lesson here — Allocate extra time for research and getting outside help if necessary. As a growing freelancer, there are several problems I run into when working through projects like these. The good thing is that it forces you to learn and to figure it out.

2. Don’t be afraid to contact the original designer or developer.

I sent several emails to the original designer of the WordPress theme. One good thing that I’ve learned is that there are some errors that even I as a designer can’t fix. I kept coming up with the wrong answer as to how to fix a problem with the 3D flash image slider. Luckily, the designer responded back in a timely manner.

Lesson here — If you are working with or customizing a purchased WordPress theme, make sure the original designer is accessible just in case you may run into problems during the editing process.

3. Do more than what’s expected.

I decided to go ahead and set up the RSS feed and Twitter feed. So, every time the client writes a post or creates a new page, it is automatically tweeted on the church’s Twitter page. I also decided to redesign the client’s Twitter background as a free courtesy. Now, let’s be real here. Every project that I take on won’t forward me the opportunity to go the extra mile. There are many times where you may just have enough time and creativity to do only what the client asks. However, this particular project was flexible enough for me to do a little more than what was expected.

Lesson here — Your goal/objective as a designer shouldn’t always be to get paid or get the design project over with, but to ADD VALUE; to exceed the client’s expectation.

4 Comments

  1. Howdy!
    I am the pastor of Transformation C,the church to which Antwon just built the website for. What I love about his work ethic is that he goes high above & far beyond what is expected to ensure that the client is not only pleases with the product, but that he is able to add volume to them. What he does is remarkable.. he helps an individual (or group) find their own personal brand. I will never expect less! Antwon has set the mark!

    Thanks, bro!

  2. I think the greatest thing I’ve learned thus far is being able to separate myself from my projects, if even for a brief period. I’d work on something for so long, and not take a break. When I’d finally get a moment away from it, I’d come back and it looked a lot different to me. Then, I’d have to start changing things…

    Taking breaks: My lesson learned.

    j.

  3. @Anthony – It was fun working through this design project. I learned some key things that will definitely help me in the future. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in the field of design, but I am learning. It always feels good when a client can leave feeling satisfied and one step closer to their vision or goal. Glad I could be of service.

    @Jarrett – Thanks for the “Lesson Learned”. You make a good point that it is a much needed thing to take breaks. I have been in situations in the past where my brain was completely fried and I had to step away from a project for a few days just to refresh and regroup. I also know what it is like to work on a time-sensitive project, where I couldn’t take the necessary breaks I needed to refresh. I usually leave those projects feeling drained and wishing to never take on another one like that in the future. Yet, one always seems to find itself on my schedule. Because I know this can be unavoidable at times, I’m learning to be flexible, and to take mini-breaks when possible or just work through the project for as long as I can until it’s complete. Then I take that needed break.

    Thanks for the comments guys.

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