What to Ask a New Client Wanting a WordPress Theme

Avatar of Chris Coyier
Chris Coyier on

[original photo]

With any new client, before you start choosing technologies, you should be finding out more about them. What they are all about, why they need a website, and what the goals of that site are. But if you are past that stage and it becomes clear that they need a blog, and that blog will be powered by WordPress, here is a list of things you should ask to get started (in no particular order).

  • Will there be multiple authors? Should the site clearly be displaying author info?
    Some blogs like to promote the authors of the content, other blogs are more anonymous. WordPress has a little section for adding Biographical Info for each registered user. There is a PHP function for pulling that text, which is great for creating little “About the Author” sections. There is also a plugin for adding photos for each user.
  • Are there multiple styles of blog posts, like longer feature posts and shorter quick posts?
    On most blogs, every post is treated about the same. But that doesn’t have to be the case necessarily. It is possible to have different styles of posts. It’s good to know the plan of what type of content the owners of the blog intend to be publishing.
  • What other kind of content will be on the site?
    Sideblog? Contact page? Blogroll? Photo Gallery? There are plugins to handle all this stuff. Remember that just because it’s a blog doesn’t limit the site to only being a blog.
  • Does the site need to accommodate for advertising? What type? Sizes?
    This is a big one! You don’t want to get along in your design process only to find out you need a 768×90 banner stuck in there somewhere. There are lots of possible common sizes you may need to accommodate like 125×125, 300×250, 160×600, etc. Knowing this upfront will allow you to design around them and make them a part of the design.
  • Do you plan to use categories? tags? both?
    Many blogs categorize their posts into categories. It can help users browsing archives or who may only be interested in certain topics. You can put serious emphasis on this, or ignore it completely. Again it is a good idea to get a feel for what the client intends to be writing about so you can envision together how it can be organized. Tags are similar to categories but it is more common with tags to apply several on each post to identify sub topics.
  • How do you want to handle archives?
    There are lots of ways to allow visitors to browse past articles in WordPress. Category and tag pages are one form of this, but WordPress offers archives by date and by author as well. There are also plugins for more robust archives. How many options do you want to provide visitors?
  • How do you want to handle search?
    WordPress has built-in search, but its generally regarded as pretty poor. Many blogs use Google Site Search which often does a better job of displaying results. There is also a variety of third-party search solutions out there. The search results page is a very important page. Might as well make a decision and get that designed properly right away.
  • Are you going to be presenting source code in the posts?
    There are a variety of ways to handle source code in posts, including JavaScript library plugins and WordPress plugins. They all have a little different requirements so finding the right way to handle it from day-one is important.
  • Are there any other blogs that you really like?
    Clients are notorious for not being able to explain exactly what they want. But if they know they want a blog, chances are they already have some favorites. By asking about other blogs they admire, you may be able to incorporate some ideas from those blogs and impress them.

Have I about covered the basics? What other questions would you ask a client wanting a new WordPress theme?