Custom WordPress Design: A Developer’s Perspective

May 28, 2015
By Forge and Smith

Hi there! We have a newer article about WordPress. Take a read: Why You Should Choose WordPress for Your Website or Redesign.

The Forge and Smith team crafts custom WordPress websites — it’s what we do. We’re always on the lookout for problems, solutions, and improvements that can be made to both our process and to the capabilities we build into our web design projects. Efficiency is critical to the work we do, regardless of the project scope or business type.

This is what led one of our own developers to rewrite the aesthetic styles (CSS) of the Gravity Forms plugin.

custom wordpress development

Customizable WordPress Plugins

Plugins are used to extend a WordPress website’s functionality. With literally thousands of plugins available, they provide a huge range of options to improve your user experience. This includes adding eCommerce stores, event calendars, or highly customizable contact forms — and that’s just a few examples. You can read our list of Forge and Smith’s favourite WordPress plugins for business websites.

Established plugins generally have a lot of time already invested on their functions and usability. They have to work well and look good on any WordPress website once installed. They’re great for basic installations and purchased themes.

When you’re looking for a custom WordPress experience, however, problems can arise with some plugins. Specific web design layouts or branded content elements might not be achievable with standard plugins and themes. If the CSS that comes with a plugin is rigid or overly specific, customization will require extra web development time. Even moving a single element on the screen can become a difficult operation.

Is your website failing to drive leads? Find out: 7 Signs That You Need a New Business Website.

Working with Gravity Forms

To say that Gravity Forms is just a contact form plugin would be a disservice. Gravity Forms can be used for newsletter sign ups, job applications, order forms, and more. Simply put, it’s fantastic.

However, there is that downside: out-of-the-box Gravity Forms CSS isn’t the easiest to customize. We rewrote it from scratch to help our efforts here at Forge and Smith. This involved editing the CSS, trimming down its specificity, giving it a thorough reorganization, and turning off Gravity Forms’ default CSS.

Time was spent testing it and working out the kinks in a test environment, before integrating it into our development theme.

The result is that we can make our clients’ conversion forms look great and work well with their visual branding, much more quickly and efficiently. Customization is now far easier, and that’s a good thing. Your website’s forms are what gather leads, so it’s essential that they be as user-friendly as possible.

WordPress is great to work with because it’s so flexible, scalable, and easy to build upon — even if you hire a different developer or agency for a redesign years down the road. There may still be limitations, but we haven’t yet run into constraints that diminished a client’s dream web design in any way.

Let us know what your website needs to accomplish, and our web development team will strive to make it happen!

Forge and Smith

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