WordPress themes – and the HeX custom theme

At HeX, we’re big fans of WordPress, which is why we build majority of the websites we make using it. It’s versatile and flexible, as you can use it to do pretty much anything. It’s also easy for customers to use the interface to manage their own sites, once they’re up and running.

Millions of people use the WordPress content management system for their websites, including some huge brands such as Disney, Sony Music and MTV News. One of the selling points of WordPress is that it is easy to extend and customise with thousands of plugins and themes for the user to choose from.

Themes

WordPress themes take the content and data stored by WordPress and display it in the browser for the customer or visitor. WordPress themes come in all shapes and sizes, from completely blank starter themes to fully built and styled website templates. The latter can include the overall design or front-end styling of a site and it will include things like font styling and colours, page layouts and other stylistic details.

Off-the-shelf themes

WordPress has thousands of off-the-shelf themes to choose from and install quickly. Out-of-the-box themes vary from completely free to paid-for premium themes. However, the downside to any off-the-shelf theme is that they can be difficult to customise, only allowing for certain styling elements to be changed. Also, page structure can also be very limiting with the ability to place images only in set places or buttons where you don’t really want them to be. To someone who isn’t a developer, images can also be very tricky to manipulate without knowledge on how to correctly re-size and edit them before uploading into a theme. And for these frustrating reasons, you might choose to go for a custom theme instead, such as the HeX theme (see later).

Plugins

There is a wealth of plugin options available to extend the capabilities of your site. But you do need to bear in mind that this can result in a slowdown of your site if you are not savvy with what you are installing. Also, ensuring plugins are kept up to date is really important for security reasons, because out of date plugins can make your website more vulnerable to hackers. If in doubt, ask the professionals for help and advice.

The HeX Theme

For all of the web projects we create for ourselves and our clients, we have developed our own custom WordPress theme, nattily titled the HeX Theme. What’s that you ask? Well dear reader, we’ll tell you. The HeX Theme gives us a starting point, sort of a foundation on which we build all of the sites we work on. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all of the websites we work on look the same, much to the contrary. Our developers will layer on top of the HeX theme to make a bespoke site individual for each client and their business needs, but starting each build in this way brings lots of benefits.

Firstly, it’s an efficient way of working, because our sites are consistent, using tried and tested best-practice. When a site uses the HeX custom theme, we know that any member of our talented development team can pick up where another team member left off, saving time on the project and money for the client. The theme also speeds things when establishing a site’s browser compatibility as the HeX theme has lots of ready-made responsive (mobile friendly) elements which can be brought over, removing several steps from the process. And another key thing is that having our own theme allows us free reign on what we can build, meaning that the customer can decide exactly where the page elements go and are less restricted than they would be with an off-the-shelf theme.

We talk a lot about how accessibility is really important to us, and our WordPress theme helps us to maintain these standards. For example, as our knowledge of how to create accessible sites grows (because we’re always learning and hope it stays that way), we are able to roll out improvements to all sites that use the HeX theme so that even after they’ve been built, our clients can rest assured that their site can stay up to date with the best-practice solutions. We achieve this through efficient version controls, which allows us to iterate improvements within our theme that can be easily rolled out to the sites that we maintain, ensuring each site is constantly renewed and improved.

Check out our portfolio to look at some of the sites we’ve created for our clients, using the HeX theme of course.

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