What questions do you ask when asked to give an estimate on theme development?

I just recieved an email that asked the following question:

“How much will cost to code a WordPress theme?”

I cannot answer this question without know the answer to a plethora of other questions. I cam up with the following off the top of my head:

  1. What browsers/devices need to be supported?
  2. What core WordPress functionality needs to be supported?
  3. What template files need to be created?
  4. Are there and custom page templates?
  5. Is the theme to be internationalized?
  6. Does the theme offer functionality outside the scope of WordPress core?
  7. How complex is the design?
  8. What level of accessibility is expected?
  9. How much of WordPress functionality is represented in the PSD?

Unfortunately, I do not have all of these written down anywhere and I’m sure that I am missing very important things. To save me time in the future as well as to help other freelancers, I thought it might be a good idea for everyone to list the questions they ask potential clients when asked to develop a theme from an unknown design.


I think some of your questions are too wide. You still cannot break down each answer in hours.

Some of the questions I ask:

  • Are there widgets? Which?
  • Which theme options are needed? Details? Colors, text fields, image uploads etc.
  • Custom post types and taxonomies? Very, very detailed.
  • How are the comments displayed? This one is missing on many PSD files. Do you need a custom walker?
  • What should happen when the user has a minimum font size of 24px?
  • What should happen when the user’s window is just 35em wide? I couldn’t find the pay button on Amazon once on my laptop because the designer had not thought so far …
  • Which plugins do you have to integrate? Contact forms, social buttons, subscribe to comments etc.
  • Functionality of nav menus: Icons, descriptions, embedded images?
  • Is a slider needed? What should it do? How are the items added?
  • Will the output for small devices be handled by a separate/child theme?

Some things you don’t need to ask but to know to estimate the time:

  • How many sprites do you have to build?
  • How much support will the client need? When in doubt use 25% of the total time.
  • Have you written your last code abstract enough to reuse it?

Extra: Calculation

Break down each step in hours. Sum the hours up, then double them. If you are a beginner, triple the time. Then add the support time.

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