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Wordpress. As a developer I often loathe it. As a designer I tolerate it. As a marketer I love it
I’ll admit, I’m being dragged kicking and screaming into the Wordpress world. Not that I dislike Wordpress; I’ve talked in the past about how it was a terrific blogging tool. But while others happily embraced it years ago, until recently we still weren’t fans of using it to build entire content-managed sites. But my… how things have changed.
Developing for it can really, really suck at times
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a developer at heart. I can do some moderate programming, but if you sit me at a blank screen and say write a program to do this… I’ll just stare blankly. But I’m comfortable reviewing code, modifying it, and even able to piece together some cool stuff based on tutorials and examples. But when we’re doing stuff in Wordpress it aggravates me constantly. Its god-awful loop and the endless arrays and function calls are probably all necessary - but when you’re trying to decipher and fix a problem - it can be maddening to have to dig through it all. And that’s my frustration and disgust. A petty gripe? Perhaps, but I’m not alone (see here http://bfy.tw/542R).
The web designer in me feels like a fraud
Ok, I’ll make a confession. I’ve never created my own theme. I’ve started them, but eventually choose to simply go grab a theme and customize it. Time is money, and there’s a downward pressure on web design pricing, so it’s often smarter to simply start with an existing theme. Many are excellent, are very capable, can be customized extensively, and include beneficial plug-ins. I’m a bit ashamed at times, but I generally get over it.
I’ve built tons of custom sites. But in today’s mobile-first world - and with lots of other user experience factors dictating various experience guidelines - most sites begin to look alike anyway. An observation echoed by Antonio Paratas in his webdesignerdepot.com post “Every website looks the same, and that’s OK.” Even the custom sites we’ve built started with frameworks such as Zurb’s Foundations or Bootstrap from Twitter - so they all have a similar underlying structure. So picking a theme that has lots of cool features and layout options only speeds development. Why reinvent the wheel, right?
Which brings me to my true motivation for finally embracing Wordpress - marketing!
What has really drawn me into Wordpress as of late? I can forget having to design and market simultaneously. That is, if we pick a template, we can focus on customizing the content to shape our marketing message. Previously, we’d write our copy, then design the pages, then have to build the pages in html and css and add other features. But now, we write the copy, and use the inherently simple tools and features included with Wordpress and its templates to concentrate on marketing. It makes things quicker and simpler.
Even better, non-web designers can also work within the sites using the visual layout tools to spread the labor around. Not to mention clients also enjoy being able to edit and add-on to their sites as well. So it’s a win in many ways.
I’m late to the party, but I’m looking forward to having a good time
Long-time Wordpress fans will certainly chide me for finally realizing what they had earlier. I can live with being late to the party. Parties get better with time and so has Wordpress. So we’ve embraced it and enjoy creating sites quickly that hammer home our client’s marketing and lead to sales. So while I may feel a bit dirty as a designer, and curse like a sailor when having to confront Wordpress’ loop, the marketing man in me is happy to have finally arrived at the party.
Mar 23, 2016
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