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WordPress Development Spectrum

WordPress Development Spectrum

WordPress originated is a blogging tool for non-technical users but it has since grown into a powerful content management system (CMS) and website development tool. This article sets out to describe, very briefly and simply, the full spectrum of levels of involvement for website owners and web developers in the creation of a WordPress website.

WordPress.com

Blogging tool for the non-technical with hosting included.
Range of themes (currently 310) and plugins provide some customisability. Once you have chosen your theme, many can be modified in terms of colour and features.
Typically uses a free WordPress.com url but, for a fee, it is possible to use this form of WordPress with your own domain.

WordPress.org

WordPress.org provides far greater flexibility than WordPress.com but since it is nothing more than the WordPress software, you need to provide your own hosting and install and configure the WordPress software yourself.

Themes and Plugins

Once you have set up WordPress on your own hosting, you can choose from nearly 10,000 publicly available themes and then enhance the functionality with a selection from around 30,000 publicly available plugins.
The enormous library of themes means that there will almost certainly be a theme to suit your particular requirements and very many WordPress website owners find a theme and are happy to use this with their own colours, logos and content. Indeed, many WordPress “developers” provide  their clients with websites by doing little more than providing this as a service.

Theme Frameworks

Theme Frameworks are a special type of theme that, unlike standard themes, do not really work straight out of the box, but enable a skilled developer to build a bespoke website for their client without needing to hand code many standard functions that are required for almost every website.

Child Themes

Since WordPress is open source, a developer can view and modify the program code of an existing Theme, should they so wish. This allows the developer to take the best bits from an existing Theme and add their own modifications and features.
A child theme has its own code but is dependent on the parent theme, or theme framework for the bulk of the code. The additional code may be html, css, Javascript, php, or any other coding language that is understood by web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome.

Fully bespoke themes

Since WordPress is open source, developers can and do write new themes from scratch. Clearly this is much more complex and time consuming that using a pre-written theme but it does provide complete flexibility, overcoming the minor restrictions that do exist, even for frameworks. Typically these developments would also involve fully hand-written additional functionality rather than use plug-ins, and would often also include changes to the core WordPress software. In addition to extra flexibility, this approach makes it possible to fine tune the code for performance, and remove any general code that is not essential for the purposes of the particular website under development.
These would usually be enterprises level projects, well beyond the resources of small business.
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