For the last year and a half Spigot has been building client sites exclusively on WordPress, which has proved to be an ideal choice both for us and our clients. It’s powerful, flexible, and best of all, very easy for clients to use.
A big part of why it’s gone so well is due to the efforts of WordPress developer Justin Tadlock and his Hybrid Theme Framework. As a front end developer, Justin’s work and the community that he’s attracted has been a shot in the arm to my understanding of WordPress, and PHP. He (and the community) is patient with the simplest of questions and is clear and concise when explaining issues. The Theme Hybrid forums are more about teaching a person to fish than just handing one over and doing it for you.
The Framework Concept
What originally attracted me to Theme Hybrid was that it was one of the more popular ‘theme frameworks’ that have been gaining traction in the WordPress community. The premise of a theme framework is to provide a core set of functionality so that each new site isn’t being completely built from scratch. It provides a powerful set of core features that speeds up development time and helps to keep client costs down. New sites are still custom from top to bottom, but a lot of the dirty work is already taken care of.
Theme Hybrid is also built on the parent/child theme concept, which allows for ongoing improvement of core theme features without affecting the design and functionality of the site. A child theme allows you to use all the power and functionality of the parent theme, without losing any customizations when the parent theme is upgraded. This is perhaps more useful to those who are modifying a theme they’ve purchased, but there are also many benefits to those who have a custom theme built by professional designers like us, especially when using a framework as powerful as Hybrid.
When a framework isn’t a framework
Recently there has been some debate in the community over the confusion between what a framework is vs. the parent/child theme concept. The Hybrid Theme has been called a framework, and treated as such, since it’s release. And this has apparently been causing confusion because it’s not a true framework in a traditional development framework sense at least. So what is it? Well, Justin himself perhaps says it best:
What should we call the Hybrid theme? Simple. It’s a parent theme. Justin Tadlock
This distinction is perhaps of little importance to most (ok… any) of our clients. But it does matter for developers who are looking to get the most out of WordPress and build the very best websites for our clients that we can. Theme Hybrid is a few years old now, and while it’s still better than 99% of the themes out there, even Justin has stated that it’s got legacy code deeply embedded and it’s perhaps better to start again from his latest project, Hybrid Core.
From parent to child and back to parent
Hybrid Core is about creating a true framework, in the traditional sense, by putting the core functionality within the parent theme. The framework itself can continue to be developed and updated without affecting the theme and its customizations. The real advantage to developers and design firms like Spigot is the ability to create our own parent/child themes for our clients that are powerful, updatable, and using the most cutting edge technology available.
But what about rebuilding Spigot?
All this is to say Yes, I’ve rebuilt spigotdesign.com using the new framework. Starting from Justin’s theme Prototype which I’ve pulled apart and dissected and reformed into our very own. The beauty of Prototype is that Justin has created it to take advantage of most of what Hybrid Core has to offer, so it’s a perfect starting point from which to build and learn. I would have preferred a more stripped down version over a full-fledged theme, but there were benefits to having to dismantle Prototype that will pay dividends. I feel like I’ve had to start the learning curve over again, which is just going to make my understanding that much greater.
Oh, and also Custom Post Types
Rebuilding also allow me to take advantage of the new(ish) custom post types feature in WordPress. This feature has made WordPress a true CMS if ever it wasn’t by adding the ability to create custom content types. Now Spigot has a dedicated section for our Portfolio that stays separate from our blog posts. Again, for most of our clients this distinction isn’t going to matter. But in the end, it’s better.
What’s this all mean to you?
If you’re a client or a potential client of ours, what does this mean to you? Nothing really, except the knowledge that Spigot, in addition to being OK at the design end, is also continually learning and getting better at the building of your website. Call or Get a Quote today.