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Profit: Custom design vs templates/themes

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Hi everyone, I'd like to start a conversation about your view and practices for profitable web design and development (unless there is already one that I didn't find). I use ProcessWire for most of my sites currently.

Wherever I look though I can see plenty of web design freelancers and even larger agencies running exclusively on WordPress and themes. Many people are running "web design" businesses even without any development skills. There are just so many that I started to doubt if that's the way to go.

- Do you use Wordpress + themes to cut cost and increase your bottom line? If yes, what is the middle ground? Is it worth to put up with WP?
- If not, what alternatives you use for micro/small businesses?
- And finally, how do you use ProcessWire to speed up small, basic brochure websites?

Clients care more about budget and results than "custom" design. I love working with ProcessWire but only if it doesn't mean lost opportunities.

Any opinions are welcome, especially from those of you who are advocates for themes yet are skilled developers.

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Has been discussed before in several threads. I my self grow my own library with processwire themes. It takes time to grow your own library with processwire themes but it is worth it as you can adapt/modify/change a processwire theme into anything a client wants. After you finished a website, clients are always going to call you back and want something changed, modified or added. With processwire, having everything open, no problem. My experience with Wordpress is you depend heavily on plugins or need to learn how to "hack" a wordpress theme into what the client wants. All wasted time as you will never get it right 100% this way and you learn nothing useful new in coding. Besides that, wordpress theme support will never help you with code questions and is limited to functional support. This processwire forum is the best support you can ever wish for if you have any question about processwire.

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I use themes (both commercial and free), don't see any issues with it.

I use a custom theme engine module that sort of speeds up the whole process of integrating a pre-made design... (from any html source)

 

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1 hour ago, pwired said:

I my self grow my own library with processwire themes. It takes time to grow your own library with processwire themes

Because of this, I would be interested in a team effort to build some common grounds based on the new Markup Regions and UIkit 3. If there were enough of us to take this path, we should be able to build some unofficial "PW theme for developers".

1 hour ago, pwired said:

My experience with Wordpress is you depend heavily on plugins or need to learn how to "hack" a wordpress theme into what the client wants. All wasted time as you will never get it right 100% this way and you learn nothing useful new in coding.

I agree :) 

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29 minutes ago, Macrura said:

I use themes (both commercial and free), don't see any issues with it.

I use a custom theme engine module that sort of speeds up the whole process of integrating a pre-made design... (from any html source)

 

@Macrura, do you mean that you use PW with HTML themes?

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I build my sites on top of my existing PW site profiles I take from previous sites too if you can consider that as a theme. My question is more from the commercial side of things. 

I find myself spending much more time with simple projects than others and that's why I was wondering what you guys think of alternatives. On freelancer forums people tend to see only WP but I know that most of you are seasoned developers coming from other systems. 

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yes, for some projects, i use html themes, like from html5 up, themeforest, wrap bootstrap etc..

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On 15.3.2017 at 8:15 PM, Macrura said:

I use a custom theme engine module that sort of speeds up the whole process of integrating a pre-made design... (from any html source)

 

Would be great if you would that module with us.

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sure, so the (currently named) SimpleThemeEngine is basically a front end api, which is now in module form, but was previously a loose collection of functions that were used procedurally. I would probably recommend to use Spex since it released and proven to work; My module is probably too specific for general release at the moment...

It uses WireData class for storage and provides methods for:

  • Adding, manipulating assets (css/js)
  • outputting assets (css/js)
  • Getting and setting theme variables/settings (used for layouts, like show/hide page header, etc)
  • injecting inline js code in head/foot
  • simple web fonts management, loading etc
  • injecting markup into parts of the page (sort of layout hooks)

problem with releasing module is that it depends currently on ProCache being installed (future version would have setting to select the caching/min engine, e.g. AIOM or PC)... below is an example of the code that would be used in the head....

// $ste = $modules->get('SimpleThemeEngine');
echo $ste->headAssets();
echo $ste->getJsConfig();
echo $ste->gFontLoader('Open+Sans:300,400italic,400,600,700|Montserrat:700');
echo $ste->getInjects('header');


 

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Really nice features!

But sounds really not easy to use for everybody right away, maybe it could be a baseplate for theming in pw.

Maybe sharing a future version which is less specific would make more sense.

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it would probably need to be part of a site profile so that it could make sense, it also integrates with 3 other modules, ProcessGeneralSettings, SimpleSiteEngine and SimpleSiteMeta, which together complete the whole frontend api that i'm trying to develop...

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