WordPress Network

Return on Development

A network of WordPress websites for a pharmaceutical client. Implementing designs from third party designers, customizing themes and implementing compliance requirements.

Building websites for pharmaceutical clients is a bit different than your average corporate clients:

  • Much higher regulatory requirements.
    • All changes must be documented. Changes implemented first on a beta server than transferred to a live server.
    • Warning bars, similar to cookie notification bars, on desktop and mobile versions. JavaScript Observers have come in handy here.
  • Many different websites.
    • This client has several different endeavors underway to discuss their products. This means that they need different websites with different advertising campaigns.
    • While most WordPress developers have had to struggle with managing multiple websites, the volume of beta and live servers presents a lot of challenges with testing WordPress updates, plugin updates, and functionality (i.e. form submissions, integration with third party APIs, etc.)
  • Working with third party vendors.
    • In bigger organizations the developer is not always the one that comes up with the designs for features.
    • This means that part of the process involves working with vendors to take designs, in PSD form and translate them into responsive, functional designs

Development Process

Sometimes it makes sense to build a website from scratch.

If your client has a very clear idea on what they would like — clear mockups and functionality requirements — then it may be a good idea to build the theme from scratch.

However, in most cases, it’s better for everyone to purchase a third party theme and customize it for the client. This offsets the theme development and management to a third party and allows you to produce a deliverable faster for your client.

Instead of focusing on the nuts and bolts of a website you can focus on the actual business for your client. In my experience, this has saved everyone a lot of time and allowed us to get to production faster.

There are of course downsides:

  • Dealing with third party page development plugins like WP Bakery
  • Theme inflexibility, client feature requests that require modifications to the theme (implemented using child themes)
  • Performance issues with theme developers — theme developers in general work on packing their themes with features and worrying less about performance. This isn’t a problem until you start to advertise — and then it becomes a much bigger problem.

It’s more fun to build a site from scratch and retain full ownership over every aspect, but that’s not always what the client wants. It’s important to be flexible and produce work that benefits the client over your own personal desires.



© 2024 Return on Development, Seth Hayward