One of the things I do for my job is setting up and customizing WordPress blogs for clients, but with little-to-no formal training in that area, I feel like anything I try to customize beyond whatever controls are offered by the given theme is unguided and kludgy. I can do some stuff with CSS and I'm starting to get a bit of a handle on PHP, but terms of workflow I'm flying by the seat of my pants.
My (hopefully not too lofty) goal is to find one or a few different themes that allow for a fair amount of flexibility of formatting/styling, but not be weighed down with too much pre-existing fluff. Up until now whenever I've needed to design (well, customize, I suppose) a blog or Wordpress-based website, I've generally hunted around ThemeForest for something that looks close enough to what I need, bought a copy/license to use/modify, then spent the rest of the time breaking it and taping it back together.
But it feels like that's a really inefficient way of doing things. Every time I use a new, I need to set aside a bunch of extra time to sift through its code to reverse engineer ITS kludges and workarounds so I'll be able to know how to disable them, all before even starting to put any of my own content in. It's like I want to build a new computer, but instead of just buying a good, well designed case to put components into, I'm buying a pre-assembled computer just so I can spend even more time yanking its guts out to make room for my components.
I started trying to go back to basics and work with some kind of bare-bones framework, but a lot of that just led me deeper into the rabbit hole and left me with more questions. I don't know if I should be using Skeleton or Foundation or Options Framework or jQuery or 960 or if some of those are just elements of each other. I don't know if once I have a framework figured out (if I even should be doing that at this point), which of the myriad "easy to use, simple and clean" themes (WP-Skeleton, Reverie, Reactor, Options Framework Theme, Super Skeleton, etc) that offer implementation of those frameworks, or if I should try to develop my own custom theme from scratch, or make some Frankenstein's theme out of elements from a bunch of different themes. I don't know anything about, or even if I need to concern myself with stuff like Sass and Ruby (on or off Rails) or what.
Duders, I'm in over my head and need, if nothing else, some guidance on what stuff I should be researching.