Fem Shred is a mobile-first ecommerce shop specializing in Women’s activewear with a social mission. They contracted me to fix some responsive design issues, set up WooCommerce and the requisite fulfillment on the back end, and do preflight testing before launch.
This job wasn’t a success, but I’m adding it to my portfolio anyway because the lessons here are important. My mistake was deciding against replacing their existing theme. I flinched at looking like I was trying to ‘upsell’ a new theme without knowing it was needed. The client had already bought, installed and customized one from a previous designer. I didn’t know it by reputation but I’d been away from WordPress for a bit. It was popular, appropriately priced to have some reasonable expectations, and there was a seemingly active support forum, so I gave it and the designer the benefit of the doubt.
This was one of those situations though where the legacy product continued to present issues. Unfortunately, poorly built themes that don’t adhere to WordPress dev standard practices and don’t perform well are common, and this was one.
The lesson (re)learned for me here is I will (continue to) avoid working on themes of unknown origin when possible or at all involved. I was able to manage client expectations and salvage the relationship, but between theme issues, a web host that sure seemed like they were playing cacheing games as motivation for “premium support” sales, and the array of bait-and-switch upsells by WooCommerce vendors on the fulfillment end, the client decided to move to the Weebly platform. I can’t say I blame her, either.
It does make me wonder how common this story is – a niche site owner gets fed up with the incremental monetization parts of the WordPress business. I know all the arguments against this criticism, and I agree; I’ve been the WordPress developer that struggles to make a living.
Maybe the real lesson is there just is no one-size-fits-all, no matter what that theme shop is trying to sell.