Dimitry ChamyDesigner · Developer · Educator

Designer / developer / educator who works on commercial and cultural projects in multiple sectors. New to Clarity: ask for my VIP call link!

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The line between a simple theme and a framework is as much about product development philosophy and definitions as it is about user workflow. Themes are closer to the typical end user in intent, and are designed to be self-contained, focusing on GUI based customizations. WordPress Frameworks tend to target professional designers and / or developers rather than casual users. They are usually built around a core theme that whose design is often plain. Like most themes, they have GUI settings and options. But, they also allow extensive modifications using hooks and filters that developer find useful.

Frameworks themes are often accompanied by a growing collection of leaner child themes. These provide design variations, and sometimes special functionality for particular markets, such as restaurants. This describes the Genesis approach which also includes a large number of plugins that add extra functionality. If any of its many available child themes fits your needs with little modification other than styling, Genesis is a great choice. There is also a great community and support for anything needing more advanced customization.

LayersWP is a bit of a different animal. It is a framework capable of supporting child themes but also adds a powerful integrated page builder to the equation. Page builders are a relatively newer trend in the WordPress ecosystem. They focus on layout and content of individual pages or posts. Often they include front-end editing capability and drag and drop modules of content. So there are very friendly to DIY non-coders and editors.

Sometimes this comes at a cost. You can be "locked-in" even more by a page builder than with a theme if they use tons of short codes to build your individual pages. And they can add bloat to your source code. Most are available as separate plugins, but LayersWP approach seems to create a much tighter fit and works with widgets to build pages. Their goal seems to be to build a thriving commercial ecosystem of add-ons, styles kits and themes around the free LayersWP core. So, if your site needs a page builder and you can live with being lock-in to its growing ecosystem, layersWP could be your answer.

The relative importance of color will vary within sectors and product categories but color (or even its relative absence) is usually a key and multi-faceted signifier among the elements that combine to build core a brand identity—as well as in your supporting marketing materials, sales tools, and certainly in products themselves.

Not giving it due consideration before deploying a major campaign will definitely not help you differentiate yourself visually and may affect both brand perception and resulting sales.

And, it can be counterintuitive: color in fashion, especially at the high-end, is often less important in core branding elements (logos, for example tend to be monochromatic, classic marks) but is vital in seasonally differentiating products such as a clothing collection and or accessory line which is also reflected in ad campaigns. But there are always exceptions: http://us.christianlouboutin.com/ is known as much for the red sole as for the ever changing shoes they are attached to. The red of the sole is visible from a much longer distance, and multiple angles. than the logo, itself.

If I say John Deere, you will think of a color; if I say Caterpillar you will think of another. Companies will fight tooth and nail to embed specific color triggers into our connection to them and protect such color as part of their intellectual property. Evidently, they think color deserves much consideration.

The right solution will depend on having a clearer understanding of the goals of your directory and the needs of your users. But this is an area with many possible solutions:


Review all of the above offerings (and any others you find) and compare their capabilities with your expectations. Evaluate them several times wearing different hats:

(a) the manager / owner of the marketplace: bulk populating listings, editing & moderation, seo, upgrades and payments, etc...

(b) a supply-side user of the market, i.e., an expert with a free listing as well as one with a premium listing, if applicable: creating, editing, ugrading, sharing and publicizing their listings etc.. Can they easily have multiple listings or locations, what fields are available to add details to their listings and do these prevent errors like mispelled categories and tags, etc...

(c) the end user looking for experts in various scenarios: casual browser, looking for a particular expert for the first time, returning user trying to do more advance actions like: saving experts for later, retrieving favorites, sharing an expert with someone else or on social media networks, contacting experts, rating or reviewing experts.

It is really important to also create a matrix of features and benefits for all the plugins you find and add qualitative evaluations of each. If you are not sure how to benchmark these start by looking outside of WordPress by looking at established marketplaces (in and out of your sector) to develop a list of criteria.

Finally, make sure the vendor of the plugin you choose is there for the long term, is well regarded by the community, and provides adequate documentation and support. Look at support forums closely, search for unanswered threads, view the change logs / development roadmaps, and contact the developers with pre sales questions.

Good suggestions and arguments for using a online tool / service here. But if you want to stick within your parameters of a Mac-based solution. Try:

Mail Designer Pro 2 by Equinux:

Free trial and available on the App Store.

Completely wysiwyg, it does previews and customizations for everything from desktop to Apple Watches. And it is particular good if you use MailChimp or Campaign Monitor as you can add their template variables directly; and, there is one-click pushing of your finished email to their respective servers for distribution. You can also output html for other providers; and even PDFs for using elsewhere.

For emails you intend to send directly from Apple Mail itself (if you have a small list) you can use the little sister (the non "Pro" version) of the same program.

I have some minor issues with the program but find that for clients who really can't work with online tools it really steps up to the plate. There is even a "share / lend" via email feature for sending templates that auto install with a click. So I can design a custom template for a client that they can then customize at will.

If you have any follow up questions please DM me and I will be happy to share my VIP call link.

Good Answers here. I would agree that WordPress should not have trouble scaling with your needs if setup properly. You may also try cloning your site for testing purposes to revisit how your content architecture is structured vis-a-vis your various content types and add-on technologies (data, d3.js, ads). Doing this both from a front-end perspective and backend editorial workflow would probably yield productivity gains on both human and server/machine sides. Even if you decide to leave WordPress the the exercise would probably still yield useful lessons for your new choice of CMS.

Your strategy should encompass at least four components:

(A) Complete Visual/verbal/social/technical audit to find/create needed assets for transition: know which assets need to be retired or replaced and what transitional assets are needed to bridge the gap. Prioritize: not everything always needs to change at once and the more you have the longer it will take or cost. Plan to convert brand book concepts/guidelines into tangible or digital deployables: how much "stuff" do you need?; vendor selection; budgeting; designing production files; ordering; quality assurance etc...

(B) Internal (team) awareness & asset deployment program and monitoring compliance.

(C) External publicity plan: aimed at existing clients & prospects, and any other stakeholders: social networks, media, affiliate partners, etc... Timing should be coordinated with industry / sector calendar (trade shows, if applicable), and major app update for maximum effectiveness. Do you need specialized short term PR/AD help? How can you leverage your 10K+ users to buy in / get the word out?

(D) Technical migration & Monitoring Plan: seo strategy & tracking including all affected url redirects, landing pages, email changes, whatever is affected. Monitoring & analytics to see how effective the transition is (compared to old name stats) and when transitional assets can be retired.

As with most things WordPress there are several solution paths you can take with this and the best will depend on the particular type of site you are trying to build. Your question suggests you may be relatively new to the platform and more comfortable with available wysiwyg / plugin tools rather than raw coding it all so here are three suggestions:

(A) Types & Views + Cred Front-End Forms Builder
this combo will allows you to define your CPTs; add as many metaboxes with custom fields as you need; build templates to display your content.

(B) Gravity Forms + Custom Post Types:
This can be used with above solution or ACF or Pods etc...

(C) Formidable Forms:
An example that shows Formidable has a built-in ability not just to create front end forms but can display the results in a ajax parametrically searchable listing with accompanying single pages.

All of these will show submissions on both front and back end and can be set to appear as draft pending approval. Submitters can also be given permission to edit their own entries or pay for display of premium tiered content if your system requires that ability.

If you provide me with more specifics we may be able to narrow it down or discover an entirely different and perhaps simpler way. There may be free plugins that do most or all of this but these are the ones I have personal experience with.

The fact that you are even asking the question points to WordPress for your initial, and possibly ultimate solution, since WordPress was conceived and evolved to serve the purpose of delivering content.

However, don't assume that with WordPress you'll be ready launch from day 1, as some have suggested. If this is a serious business, at the very least, you will need to plan and structure your site's architecture, curate and configure and test plugins and theme/frameworks, design and configure forms for landing pages and newsletter capture, pull in and curate feeds or submission forms for all these articles, seo strategy and automation, establish contributor roles and editorial workflows, widgets, sidebars, conditionals, and customize the backend to simplify and secure all of the above. If you are serious, you may also need to build custom post types, meta boxes for custom fields, and custom templates and search forms to display them; Then there are advertising systems, social media inflows outflows etc... And maybe you'll even decide to build an a mobile app and use WordPress to power the data, users, and backend.

If it's starting to sound like custom development that's because that is exactly what it is. But by the end you will also know what the limits of WordPress are and know enough about your audience and the development of sites that if you do decide to go with something other than WordPress you will be better for it.

If there is one thing I've learned in 7 years of WordPress development it is that every site is different and WordPress is a powerful and complex platform—not necessarily a simple one (to develop in).

For B-B oriented small businesses or those that sell complex products and / or services for which you need to create proposals or estimates, track billable hours, or keep track of deductions based on a retainer:

Harvest App: simple and easy to use yet quite flexible (works directly with Stripe and Paypal).

17hats: way more than invoicing so could be overkill but definitely worth a look—you may not know what you are missing.

Freshbooks: also more than invoicing; especially good if you want WordPress integration via Gravity Forms, whereby you can turn an intake form into a configurable product or service invoice directly in Freshbooks—a nice time saver which also eliminates errors in transcribing.

What is your desired scale for your company?: You may already know that you want to stay very small ("solopreneur"); that you will always be the face of your brand; in that you will be the one doing this training and up selling products; and that you will never sell or pass on the business as a brand. But using your name does not just affect exit strategies: you may change your mind and decide to grow by including other trainers or partners who might feel more vested in a business that does not revolve around one person's name. The brightest counter examples I can think of are the Kahn (Academy) and Lynda(.com)—but note the twists: neither are pure personal names—and neither started out with the intention of becoming big brands in the training space.

Your name already has meaning and context: All personal names have their own social, cultural, ethnic, and sonic qualities any of which can help, limit, or even kill your ability to differentiate your brand successfully based on your name. Example: A independent fashion designer client of mine was sued by a global fashion label because her first name happened to coincide with theirs—they essentially forced her to use her last name twice in her brand, sandwiching her first name which had to be smaller that the the bracketing last names. And I was left with the task of visually rebranding her company with a mark that makes it seems as if none of these constraints ever existed. So, you're unlikely to get anywhere with this strategy if your legal name just happens to be Charles Schwab. Conversely, a very common name might never catch wider traction simply (beyond your WOM, 1-1 client base) because it is unmemorable or generic. This applies to regular company and product names too—even from top brands. Try searching Google for Apple's Numbers or Mail or Pages support resources online... and see how many irrelevant hits you get compared to searches for InDesign or PhotoShop. When the name is rather generic the other factors such as the visual brand language (yes, the logo matters too!) have to over compensate to establish and maintain differentiation. So the question put before you by others here (What is YOUR name?) is very relevant. Even if your have a great name you would be missing out on crafting a name specifically directed at your type of service and your tagline, service descriptors, urls, etc may also have to also overcompensate.

Tightly coupling your name to the brand can have other risks: If you experience personal lapse or failure that may have nothing to do with your expertise—your brand will be tarnished. This would apply to a DUI or even a nasty child custody dispute or the best / worst case: Martha Stewart.

These are all just possible cautions to be aware of (there are many others). Still, a brand based on your name is probably fine especially if your primary (money making) interactions are 1-1 and you plan to stay small. Ask yourself, is my training approach generic to my field or unique (search: Stanislavsky System or Method)? Then, if you are really good at what you do and personally trustworthy these values will also gradually build-up on your brand—unless your name is something like Jim Bezzler.

In that case, please don't call me unless you want a new name.

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