With most of my sites, sprinkling in the functionality within the theme seemed the logical way to go. For example, a site with a 'product' post type, or a few options in a meta box or setting page.

On a couple of much larger projects though, it would've been crazy to keep it all in the theme, & was a lot easier to abstract the functioniality into reusable plugins.

But now I'm at the stage where the requirements are so specific, I'm writing a bespoke plugin to work alongside the theme, and I'm struggling with deciding what (if anything) should remain in the theme or go in the plugin (& furthermore, to break up the plugin into several to handle each component of the site).

It'd be great to hear of other similar situations, & generally how you guys approach large scale projects on WordPress.


I've spent the last month and a half working around the clock on a fairly large scale project based on BuddyPress and WordPress. Very little of the functionality is actually contained in the theme itself. Most of it wound up being broken into at least six different plugins that each serve a slightly different yet similar purpose. The smaller bits that were more general or otherwise did not make sense as a plugin got thrown into functions.php. I did it that way so that the client could turn off and back on each component as necessary.

Just as I did, you will have to sit down and determine what makes the most sense to you and best suits you or your client's needs. Planning is your best friend, trust me.

  • Appreciate the response. Agreed, I'd spent much of my time planning too, having the foresight to cover things that inevitably crop up along the way. – TheDeadMedic Dec 19 '11 at 11:08

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