Design

Working With a Developer

There may be situations when you wish to hire a developer to help you create the site of your dreams! A developer is often used to customize a third party theme or plugin, make advanced CSS customization, or take care of your full website development. This guide shares tips you’ll need to know when working with a developer for your WordPress.com site.

Table of Contents

When Would I Need a Developer?

Some examples of the types of projects that developers can help you with are:

  • Third-party theme installation and customization
  • Third-party plugin installation and customization
  • Advanced CSS customization
  • Custom PHP
  • Custom theme and plugin development
  • Full website development on a fixed budget
  • Site migration

Security Tips

⚠️

Never give out your own username & password to anyone, including a developer.

If you would prefer to have your developer make the desired changes to your site directly, you can invite them to become a user on your site. If they don’t already have a WordPress.com account, they can create one here.

Keep in mind that the developer will need to be given the Administrator role in order to have access to the Customizer, or to manage your themes and plugins. As a result, once your developer is finished working on your site, we suggest removing them as a user on your site until the next time you need assistance.

When adding the developer to your site, you can mark them as a contractor, freelancer, consultant, or agency to help keep track of who you’re adding to your site and why.

User Roles - Contractor Checkbox

⚠️

We strongly recommend all site owners and developers choose strong passwords and enable two-step authentication on their accounts, for added security.

💡

The Contractor checkbox does not change the user’s permissions. It’s a way for you to keep track of users who are not part of your organization.

WordPress.com Site Customization Best Practices

If you are a freelancer or agency customizing someone else’s site on WordPress.com, you should be aware that some WordPress.com plans allow complex theme changes. Let’s look at best practices for the Premium and Business plans.

WordPress.com Premium comes with a CSS editor in the Customizer, where you can add CSS overrides to change a theme’s look, and in some cases, the layout. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Only put your CSS overrides in the editor, don’t copy the entire stylesheet.
  • Avoid using !important in custom CSS unless it’s needed to override inline CSS, or other special circumstances.

In addition to the above, WordPress.com Business allows you to install plugins, custom-made themes, and third-party themes. You can also create child themes to make modifications beyond CSS, such as HTML template-file changes and custom functions.

A few things to keep in mind with the Business plan:

  • Never edit the original theme files – unless you’re using a custom-built theme – or you’ll lose all your customizations every time the theme’s creator releases an update.
  • If you need to modify a WordPress.com premium theme’s PHP files, you can install a child theme plugin. You may download a free WordPress.com theme from its showcase page.
  • You can access the site files directly via SFTP and the database via phpMyAdmin by going to My Site → Settings → Hosting Configuration.
  • If you only need CSS changes, you don’t need a child theme. Add your CSS overrides to the Customizer’s Additional CSS panel instead.
  • If you only need to add a function, you don’t need a child theme – use a code snippets plugin instead, such as this one. This method lets you add extra functionality to your site while eliminating the need for a child theme, and still protecting the change against future theme updates.

No matter which plan you have, if you find yourself making many major changes to a theme, keep in mind that you might be better off either starting with a premade theme that’s closer to your needs or hiring someone to build a custom theme that’s just the right match for your vision.

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