A WordPress Tutorial

Learn more about:

  • WordPress Core
  • Themes
  • Plugins
  • Creative by Clark’s Premium Licensing
Designing Penguins - WordPress Design - Creative by Clark

Some Background on WordPress

WordPress is not just for blogs.  While the original intent was to create a blogging platform utilized at wordpress.com, the core platform software available through wordpress.org has grown into the most popular CMS (content management system) available, cornering over half the market share of all websites where a CMS can be identified.  It is estimated that over 25% of all websites on the Internet are now built in WordPress.

WordPress is what we call a core application. It cannot operate without a theme and a collection of plugins — third-party software that extends the functionality and utilities available in WordPress and within the installed theme.

WordPress core software is “Open Source,” meaning it is technically free to download and install.  However, make no mistake that there are genuine costs associated with developing a truly bespoke, sophisticated website:

  • Hosting & domain expense
  • Premium theme recommended
  • Premium plugins – potential add-on expenses to obtain licenses (some are a one-time purchase while others are annual subscriptions with renewals — often at a discount before expiry)
  • Graphic design costs as applicable for any website
  • Additional costs and time to develop an Accessible site meeting WCAG compliance with UX best practices and a lot of attention to detail and special testing
  • Image purchases, as applicable, for any website
  • Editorial expense (whether in-house or hiring a pro) as applicable for any website
  • Ongoing website care – maintenance, security, optimization, content management
  • Content marketing


Themes can be free or premium.  Creative by Clark prefers working with a handful of excellent premium themes that enable our ability to translate a visual design and structure into a bespoke website.   All themes are not created equal, and the selection process is more than viewing a cosmetic demo the author presents.  We look at numerous factors in theme selection from:

  • the integrity of the development code (W3C validation)
  • the reputation of the developer and ratings by verified purchasers
  • is the theme accessible, or can it be made accessible easily?
  • SEO evaluation of the base theme
  • flexibility for robust design and layouts
  • compatibility with popular generic plugins
  • availability of specialized plugins in the marketplace that extend the theme’s functionality or page builder
  • documentation and training material quality
  • support excellence

Currently, the themes we use most cost from $50-$80, but that is a one-time expense in most cases with lifetime upgrades (even if the price of the theme increases in the marketplace).  Presently, themeforest.net via Envato — the source of many premium themes we prefer — has imposed some new policies that limit support to 6 months with the initial purchase.  Some theme developers ignore that new restriction, but Envato provides options to purchase low-cost support plan extensions.

While we typically build the site with one of our theme licenses through the development process, by the time the site is ready to launch (at the latest), we ask that our clients purchase the license independently. Hence, there is no question about ongoing access to perpetual updates and support.

Update: As outlined in this post, we have switched to Divi as our preferred theme and own a lifetime license. We include the Divi theme with a website project purchase and can set a unique API so that the client can update the theme even without our presence for ongoing maintenance.  However, as the license is our purchase, support needs might need to come through Creative by Clark.  In the case of this license, even if the client does not continue a Maintenance Care Plan with Creative by Clark, we authorize ongoing use of the API.  See below.


Plugins can be obtained free through the WordPress repository.  There are many terrific plugins available through this resource.  However, one often sees a huge flurry after new plugin surfaces.  Plugins authors are sometimes unprepared to handle the required updates to sync with new releases of WordPress or to deal with bug fixes and potential security patches.  Further, a plugin release often comes with support requests or customizations.  Some authors get around this demand by offering a free basic version of their plugin but providing advanced features for premium purchases.  This approach helps cover their overhead for future development commitment and support of even the free version.

When we select plugins from the WordPress repository, we carefully research their track record to include reviews/ratings and support.  Often, we opt to install premium plugins that are generally more robust and have increased pressure on the developers to maintain the integrity of the plugin and provide support lest there be negative reviews that will damage their sales.

Further, Creative by Clark invests heavily in developer-level premium plugins on an annual subscription basis and others with perpetual licenses through CodeCanyon and other sources.

Suppose we already own a license and are authorized to install it on multiple websites. In that case, we have the policy to provide the plugin on our active client websites on a complimentary basis.  We have found this an effective way to pass on a huge value-add to our customers in good standing.

Creative by Clark Premium Licenses:  Our Ongoing Authorized Access Policies

To retain our active premium plugin licenses on a complimentary basis, customers must engage Creative by Clark for a Maintenance Care Plan.  

If services with Creative by Clark terminate, we detach our license keys but do not delete the plugins or their settings.  In a few cases, absent the API key, limited functionality may result.  Plugins will not update when new versions are available. The website owner will ultimately need to purchase their license key, ignore the inability to update (not recommended due to risks), or remove and replace the plugin with another option for similar functionality.