While working with the company iSoftStone’s North America branch in spring 2020 I was tasked with assisting in the revamp of their company website, which was built on WordPress. I was the web developer on the project, and I needed to customize a pre-purchased theme to fit their needs.
When I was on-boarded onto the project there was already a WordPress theme purchased and picked out, plus a design team working on graphics and other designs. My task was to do custom coding and implement designs to get the site to look and work as desired by stakeholders. There was a small team on this project but we worked together to divide tasks, communicate often, and complete our objectives.
Working fast and smart
The team had me for a limited number of hours total so I had to work fast and smart in order to implement all of the requested designs and features within the short deadline and not going over budget on billable hours. I also needed to keep in mind that non-developers would be maintaining and update the website in the future so it had to be very easy to use.
One unique challenge of this project was in creating a WordPress child theme of the purchased theme which was already a child theme of another theme. If you know WordPress development and how child themes work, you may know that WordPress doesn’t support a child theme of a child theme.
I overcame this obstacle by making a “grandchild” theme in the form of a plugin on the site, which works much like a child theme would. This way the original theme and child theme that were purchased together can still update and function as they should. If the customizations somehow “broke” over time then they can be turned off by turning off the plugin, and the site can still be usable.
Block editor vs a page builder plugin
To ensure that future staff in charge of updating and maintaining the website would be able to add or edit information and blog posts easily, I had to figure out which publisher tools to implement on the site without knowing who would be in charge of these future tasks or what their skill levels or experience were.
There was debate over whether the WordPress Block Editor or a third party page builder plugin such as WPbakery, Elementor, or Beaver Builder would be easier to use. I set up the site designs and customizations to be able to support any of these solutions. I set styles, fonts, and color palettes for the Block Editor in case it was used and placed them in the grandchild theme. I added a couple of page builder plugins that can be used as well. Then I built pages in each solution to show how they can be used on the site to match content design mockups. I even made sure the rest of the team knew how to build pages these ways too.
In the end I helped complete the project on time and in budget with a good looking and easy to use website for the company that should suit their needs for quite some time.