Options for Creating a WordPress Website

Today we’ll be taking a look at the different options you have for creating a WordPress-powered website. Your ultimate choice will probably be based on your level of expertise in WordPress and coding in general, as well as the budget you have for developing your site.

So let’s take a brief look at all the options:

  1. Start a blog on WordPress.com

    This is the easiest and probably the cheapest option to go for. You can sign up at www.wordpress.com and immediately start using the WordPress platform to start developing your blog or site. For a detailed comparison of wordpress.com with wordpress.org click here. The quick answer is that WordPress.com provides you with all the basic features you need to start publishing, however you are restricted to the themes provided by the platform, and have your hands tied when it comes to customisations. The positive side is that it is really easy to set up and hosting is managed by the platform itself, meaning less headaches about technical details for you.

  2. Start a site on Page.ly

    Page.ly launched in 2009 as the first WordPress specific host and continues to innovate and lead the growing field. It is similar to WordPress.com but gives you more flexibility as you can install any theme or plugin that you want. It is also a paid platform, unlike wordpress.com (http://page.ly/plans-pricing/). It promises ultra-secure hosting and no downtime.

  3. Use WordPress open source + Free or Paid Theme

    WordPress is of course available as an Open-Source system from www.wordpress.org. You can thus install it on your own virtual private server and be up and running in a few minutes. You can then install a free or paid plugin to get the look you want. There are many sources from where you can get a theme, for example woothemes.com or themeforest.com.

  4. Use WordPress open source + Your Own Theme

    If you have the technical knowledge or are willing to contract a developer, you can use WordPress and build a fully customised theme for your business. This is of course the most expensive option however going down this road will ensure that you have the closest fit for your business or idea.

As a developer, most of my work involves building themes from scratch for clients. At Isle Creative we have developed our own framework, which means that we have a collection of code that we reuse for each project. The design of each website is however built from scratch and then converted to clean HTML and CSS. Following that we convert it into a WordPress theme by including all the WordPress tags and functionality, including customisation of the WordPress admin area as per the needs of our client.

You can also find some WordPress code frameworks available online. Here are a few of these:

Hybrid Core

Hybrid Core is a WordPress theme development framework for creating solid parent themes. It allows theme developers to forget about all the complex functionality and dive straight into coding their theme’s HTMLCSS, and JavaScript.

This framework’s code is completely free and open source. You can use it for creating publicly-downloadable themes, client work, or even a commercial theme business.


Carrington Core

The Carrington Core platform was built for the entire WordPress development community. Developers love the reduced reliance on custom code and the resulting ease of site maintenance and upkeep. Designers love being able to apply different visual treatments to different areas or the site and specific pieces of site content without having to write any PHP code. For a WordPress theme professional, it’s the best thing since sliced bread.


My preference?

Being a full-time WordPress developer I am happy to dive into the coding side of themes, so I usually start by converting the PSD into plain HTML and CSS. Then when I’m happy that it’s validating perfectly and everything is pixel perfect, I’ll start converting it into a fully functional WordPress theme. As a start I integrate my own framework of code functions which I tend to use in all projects, and I also use code from frameworks such as Starkers Theme or any of these others to speed up the process and make sure that I’m always building using the same standards.

Why don’t I use a framework like Carrington or Hybrid? Well, I prefer to build everything from scratch without being confined to follow certain coding patterns, although I certainly see the value of such frameworks. As an experiment, WPMayor itself was built on Hybrid and it certainly was quite a pleasant experience. So I don’t rule out integrating frameworks into my workflow in the future.

If you are wondering, yes, building almost everything from scratch means more development time and therefore the need for a bigger budget. I am in fact thinking about starting to use theme builders such as iThemes Builder or Carrington Build to quickly build WordPress websites for low-budget clients whose main priority is that of putting their content online with a particular structure and a decent design. I think these two builders would be excellent for this purpose as they will enable me to create WordPress websites that are well-coded but take much less time to develop, meaning savings for the end client.

Your thoughts? Comments below!

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About Jean Galea

Jean Galea is a WordPress developer, entrepreneur and padel player. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and EDD Bookings, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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10 Responses

  1. Sridhar Katakam
    Sridhar Katakam May 27, 2011 at 04:06 | | Reply

    “I usually start by converting the PSD into plain HTML and CSS. Then when I’m happy that it’s validating perfectly and everything is pixel perfect, I’ll start converting it into a fully functional WordPress theme.”


    I use iThemes Builder and just create WordPress sites directly based on PSD/designs/existing sites.

    and yes, code will be valid as long as they are no glaring errors on the user’s part.

  2. Ravi
    Ravi August 22, 2011 at 16:32 | | Reply


    The article topic and mention about Page.ly is unique. Given the hassle with so many hosts, it is good to see Page.ly getting a mention.

    Do you have any experience with other WordPress specific hosts? I am seeing different hosting companies for various clients and each have some problem.

    By the way, we have started using Genesis as our framework for development and we are loving it !

  3. Gary Smith
    Gary Smith November 21, 2011 at 23:27 | | Reply

    This article contains some good common-sense advice and it’s nice to get some insight into how others go about building a site with WordPress. Personally for typical sites, I tend to just clone and modify the built-in Twenty Eleven theme. It gives a good, solid, clean base to start from and contains most of the common functionality that all sites require, regardless of design. I find that about 90% of the modifications on a regular smallish website can be handled through the stylesheet alone, and the rest is just minor adjustments to the HTML or PHP in selected templates, with a few plugins thrown in for good measure. The only possible downside is that sometimes if the site I’m building doesn’t require all the functionality built into the default theme there might be some extra code left on the server that isn’t used for anything, but that doesn’t cause much harm — and who knows, maybe later the client will want to expand the site to add some of that function back in.

    I probably wouldn’t build a theme totally from scratch unless there was something about a site design or behavior that was totally unconventional and out-of-the box: I haven’t come across a request for one of those yet.

  4. Robert
    Robert May 7, 2013 at 02:07 | | Reply

    You mention “or even a commercial theme business.” at Hybrid Core.
    And “For a WordPress theme professional, it’s the best thing since sliced bread.” at Carrington Core.
    May I interpret that as, if those 2 were the only options you had, you would choose Carrington Core over Hybrid Core to build your themes for a commercial theme business.

    I’m researching these 2 frameworks for ages now. And I just can’t make up my mind which one to use to start my commercial theme business. (So I can eventually give up on freelancing.)
    At the moment I use my own WP theme framework, with HTML5 Boilerplate (chopped up in WP style), Modernizr, Susy responsive grids, and Compass framework slapped on top.

    I have a preference for Carrington Core, the whole thing feels right. But Hybrid Core is strong enough to keep me doubting.

  5. Robert
    Robert May 7, 2013 at 13:40 | | Reply

    Hi Jean, thanks for pointing to the other article. I’ll be reading it right after this.

    I would like to leave a child theme as an option for theme buyers though. So I’m definitely looking to create a parent theme,.or even modify a starter theme (like Underscores) under git control as per :

    Wish I had looked further the first time I was here. This blog is brimming with good reads.

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