Thoughts, stories and ideas for web developers (with a focus on WordPress)

Since I decided to give my clients less freedom when they ask me to design a site for them, I improved both my customer satisfaction and my own work satisfaction significantly.

Don't do this

When I first started out as a WordPress developer, I gave clients all the freedom they desired. I sent them a link to Themeforest and told them to "make their pick". Whatever theme they picked, I'd buy it, figure out how it works, and design their website.

I've done it like this for about 5 clients, until I realized that this way of creating websites is not sustainable. Every WordPress theme has it's own ins and outs. Settings are hidden in the WordPress dashboard, in custom plugins or in the customizer. One theme uses WPBakery, another uses Elementor and another uses a completely custom page builder. If you give clients the freedom to pick their own theme, it'll take you a lot of time to figure out how to adapt the theme.

And that's not where the struggle ends. Clients don't think about the future. They pick something that looks great and that's where it ends for them. "Make this". Often, they chose themes that were abandoned after a couple of years. Obviously, it doesn't take long for security issues and compatibility issues to show up and transform a website to a mess.

Do this

That's why I limit myself to two WordPress themes. Just go to Themeforest, pick yourself a well maintained and regularly updated (!) theme and stick to it. Pick one of the many multipurpose themes, since they come with a lot of demos you can simply send to the client. This way, the client still has a lot of templates to choose from, even if they're all powered by the same theme.

Limiting yourself to one or two themes will increase your customer satisfaction, even though you might think that seems counter-intuitive. This is how limiting yourself to a single WordPress theme will benefit you:

  • The more sites you make, the better you'll get with the theme and the faster it'll go to deliver the website to your client. Clients will be so happy when they see how fast you can get them results.
  • You'll learn which plugins are required and which plugins work well together with the theme. If you're using a different theme for every client, there is no way to know which plugins will cause compatibility issues with the theme.
  • Maintenance will be a lot easier, since you can follow the same workflow for every website you maintain.
  • You may be able to buy an agency license for the theme, which is usually cheaper than buying a single license for every client.
  • Supporting your clients will be faster and easier. When customers call or mail you with a question or problem, chances are you already know how to fix it because you heard the same question from a different client. Even better: one client might call you because of a compatibility issue. Since all your other clients are using the same theme as well, you can give them proactive support. Way to go! Agency of the year!

Focus matters

Less is more and focus matters. You might think that you have to give clients all the choice in the world to make them happy, but at the end of the day, they want a great working website with stellar support. And the only way to do that, is to limit yourself to focus on one or two themes and get really good at using and maintaining them.

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