How should I decide whether to build a site using a custom theme or a pre-made theme?

Great question. To learn more about the pros/cons of each, check out our related FAQ about why you might opt to use a custom WordPress theme vs. a premade, off-the-shelf theme.

What is the infrastructure you use to build sites?

We use standard WordPress infrastructure to create objects in the content management system that make sense — custom post types, menus, headers, footers, etc. We then almost always use Advanced Custom Fields to create the needed metadata fields for each template. ACF Pro is the gold standard for adding needed fields to WordPress objects. We use ACF to create these fields, and then call them in the page/post template files.

Tell me about how you build the front end.

We start with one of the blank starter themes (our favorites are Super Hijinksified by our good friend and partner Amber Weinberg and the famous Underscores). Our team is made up of hybrid designer-developer types who are obsessively passionate that the final front-end code matches the visual language of the designs. Our code is clean, commented, and semantic, and we pride ourselves on best development practices. We use media queries to adapt the CSS for different breakpoints (as makes sense in the design) so your website adapts gracefully and looks beautiful on all device sizes, but we tend to stay away from CSS frameworks and preprocessors to avoid unnecessary code bloat. We use jQuery (one of the most popular Javascript libraries) for animations and interactivity.

How long have you been building websites?

Tamara started building websites in the mid-1990s, when she got frustrated with the limitations of Tripod, Geocities, and Angelfire page builders. (They’re like the Squarespaces of twenty-five years ago.)

Do you ever work with design shops and agencies as clients?

We sure do—Brennan Real Estate Group, Biomimicry, Lakota Group, and Arts Assessment for Learning were all designed by design agency clients of ours, and we helped them with development. Design shops/agencies, we’re happy to work with your designers to turn their (Photoshop/Illustrator/Sketch) vision into intuitive, easy to manage websites for your clients.

What about SEO?

We almost always install and rely on Yoast to make sure all the necessary tags and technical SEO necessities are in place. Though we don’t offer digital marketing services ourselves, we’re happy to refer you to some of our favorite partners who do offer these services … because after all, once your shiny website is ready to go, you want to make sure the world sees it.

What about hosting?

We develop sites on our own internal staging environment, which we have through WPEngine. (When the site is ready for QA, you’ll be uploading content and QAing it on our staging environment.) While we don’t provide hosting to our clients and are generally fairly agnostic, if asked, we do recommend WP Engine in most circumstances.