October 25, 2014

Is WordPress Easy To Work With? That Depends on Your Web Developer

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is wordpress easy

Small business owners all have one thing in common: They’re all on a budget, trying to do the best they can to build their businesses with a limited amount of financial resources.

One of the ways business owners attempt to save money is to take on the job of editing and updating their websites themselves, after having the initial site built for them by a development team. It’s a smart strategy, but it’s not always a successful one.

Adding and managing the content on your website can be a challenging task – particularly if your web developer makes it harder than it needs to be.

Is WordPress Easy to Work With?

WordPress Doesn’t Equal Easy

If you only know one thing about website development, it’s likely to be WordPress. WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in use on the Web today, controlling nearly 60% of the marketplace. That’s 4 times more than the market share enjoyed by their nearest competitor, Joomla.

There’s a reason for WordPress’ popularity. When WordPress is used properly, it can result in wonderful websites. The key words here are “used properly.”

WordPress is, in many ways, similar to a kit-car or a modular home. All of the pieces are there, but some assembly is definitely required. Building even a basic website using WordPress requires a certain level of expertise. To accomplish the job in a time effective manner, you have to know the nuances and tricks to putting the site together.

It’s important to understand that a basic assembly approach generally isn’t enough to make the small business owner happy with their website. To make it easy for the everyday user to update and edit it – customization is required.

What Is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system (CMS). It is based on open source language of PHP and database foundation of MySQL. This platform is most well-known for blogging but you can do a lot more with it. WordPress provides much more functionality with plugins.

Plugins are extensions or enhancements to the basic WordPress platform. Plugins can be free or paid tools that can be integrated into your WordPress platform. Plugins can do things like protect your website from spam, add a contact form to your website or import the comments and posts from your social media sites. Plugins can also be custom written for your website by a WordPress developer.

The theme is the design of your website. It dictates what your website looks and feels like. Designers and web developers can customize the theme to control the front-end or user experience.

WordPress Out of the Box

When you install a clean version of WordPress it comes with a basic front-end white theme.  That looks like this:

wordpress

[New blank site]

A WordPress front end designer will know how to create a custom look and feel for your website that meets the needs of your organization. This is known as a custom theme.

Something you should note is that creating a custom theme still means that the website should follow best practices of clean code, enhanced load time for the website and cross-browser compatibility.

WordPress Back-End

Every content management system has an administration area. This is where you go to update and manage the content on your website. Out of the box, the WordPress back-end or administration area looks like this:

[Dashboard]

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[Page Draft]

The choices that your web developer makes here have a direct and profound impact on how easy it will be for you and your team to edit and update your website.

For example, a company may often want to update and edit content about their different types of projects. A savvy web developer will configure the back end with an easy-to-navigate system that makes it easy to add new projects, change project descriptions, change project classifications and more.

This functionality doesn’t come standard with the default WordPress back-end. Your web developer needs to build that for you.

If you are going to be handling updating and managing the content on your website yourself, you want the process to be as simple as possible. Making sure your WordPress website is easy to work with is your web developer’s job. Be sure to communicate clearly what you plan to do with your website, and ask them how they’re going to make it easy for you to accomplish your business goals.

The Right Developer Makes the Difference

Out of the box WordPress, like any open source content management system, does not always make managing and editing a site simple and easy. It’s up to your design and development team to customize the WordPress back-end to give you and your team what they need to manage the site with little knowledge about coding.

Making websites easy to use, edit and update is what separates one WordPress team from another. When you’re deciding who you want to have work on your website, don’t just look at the front of a website. You want to see samples – or even tour – the back-end of sites they’ve built for their clients. You want to know what kind of experience you can expect from your own website.

This information is critical to making a good decision. It’s never just about WordPress, it’s about making WordPress work for you.

Frustrated Photo via Shutterstock

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Jennifer Shaheen


Jennifer Shaheen Jennifer Shaheen, CEO and President of The Technology Therapy Group, captivates business & entrepreneurial audiences by teaching them how the smart, strategic use of great Web design and social media marketing allows them to do less and accomplish more.

22 Reactions

  1. I whole-kindheartedly agree that WordPress is a great tool and the keywords, as you said “used properly”, is an understatement. I really believe WordPress is a powerful tool when used correctly… actually, I really don’t see anything better (with the exception of adding the Genesis Framework).

    I use WordPress everyday both for myself and my clients. I’ve found that it’s easy to set up, very user-friendly with regard to teaching new clients about the back end, and it definitely fills just about every aspect one needs in order to optimize his/her blog or website… as long as you know what you’re doing.

    Thanks for the post… nice job!

  2. Very true. WordPress has lots of options, but putting together the right combination for your website is vital. A good web development team can get you started.

  3. When it comes to the everyday user, WordPress is unparalleled in terms of how easy it is to use. This is where it really excels and why it is so popular. However, from a developer’s standpoint, it’s not always the best experience IMHO. This is probably due (at least in part) to the fact that it has morphed from simple blogging software in its origins to a fully-featured anything and everything system. The design pattern of filters and action hooks definitely takes some getting used to and can quickly become very spaghettish and difficult to maintain if you’re not vigilantly careful in how you move forward. I think even the default themes (Twentythirteen, Twentytwelve, etc.) are even a bit spaghettish themselves so as that pattern gets followed, it gets repeated in other plugins and themes. There are definitely things you can do to add maintainability (e.g pulling as much code as you can out into your own classes) so it can be decent if you think through what you’re trying to do. Bottom line though, because it is so ubiquitous, as a developer you kinda have to know how to work with WordPress because it is inevitable that you’re going to run into it eventually.

  4. I agree. It is very important to know and understand how a WordPress website can work for you. It’s not just about how your website looks but how easy it is to use and maintain both for you and your users. So choosing the right WordPress developer can surely make a difference.

  5. This reminds me of the first time I used WordPress. With so many people who are used to the platform – they easily claim that it’s easy when it’s not. I almost paid someone just to set up my blog. It all depends on what platform you’re used to. From there, it can be easy.

  6. Great sharing!

    I started learning WordPress (paid thousands) in 2008. I glad that I made that decision, because the time and money I invested into learning WP have paid for themselves a dozen times over today.

  7. Without a doubt WordPress is the best and easiest content management system for the non-technical user. That doesn’t mean there is no work to be done. To get it right you will have to put in plenty of work, but WordPress will put you in the best position as far as SEO and managing the site are concerned.

    I am assuming you are not just putting up a hobby blog but a full blown business web site. You will need a coder to transform your design into a WordPress theme to give it the professional look and feel of a proper business site. Just because you are doing as much of it as you can yourself, you don’t want it to look like a DIY project. Just search on PSD to WordPress on Fiverr.com or an equivalent site for a professional coder. Best to ask for a price to code and install the site onto your hosting to make the process easy. You could even get someone there to do the design if you want to.

    From there you will need to install some add ins for SEO optimisation, visitor tracking (Google analytics just doesn’t give enough information about individual visitors) and any automation of tasks.

    All up you can have a professional looking site up for under $120.00, with some of the most advanced tools available, essential if you are going to compete with the big boys. I have 2 sites up this way and so far so good.

    Next you have to look at the copywriting, and that is a whole new ball game!

  8. I remember when I made the choice to go with WordPress when making new websites, it was partly due to its simplicity. Drupal and Joomla were 10x more confusing when I was looking at the open source CMS options out there.

    WordPress is easy enough that I was able to get started without too much effort, and now I’m able to customize WordPress in tons of different ways without breaking any core components. The community around is awesome as well, with tons of other people willing to help via contributing free plugins or articles like this one. :)

  9. I’m a web designer and although WordPress is great it isn’t always that easy for computer illiterate people to use.

    I use the plugin Advanced Custom Fields, which is fantastic for making wordpress a lot easier for the client to use.

    Any developers reading who haven’t used it, give it a go it is great!

  10. Great article. WordPress is awesome and you are 100% correct that the right developer makes all the difference. You can definitely tell when someone bought a WordPress theme and switched a few things out compared to an awesome developer that really took some time to customize it.

  11. You’re right that the developer makes a big difference, but you seem to be saying that this is primarily because of how he customizes the Admin back-end. That’s actually called for only in specific situations, and is not all that common. Lots of WordPress sites don’t need any back-end customization.

    Rather, I’d say that the developer can make it easy (or hard) depending on whether he uses best practices in building the site, ensures that the site is kept updated, backed-up and secure, and ESPECIALLY whether he takes the time to train and assist the website owner.

  12. With the friendly interface and functionality of WordPress, compared to older office tools (like Windows FrontPage, remember?) so with evolution of web design, I can say things have never been easier than before. This is because we can now focus more on content and web design, rather than manually coding out every layout of our webpage. What you should question, however, is if web design technology is evolving, are you willing to evolve with it?

  13. WordPress has many plugins to add for more features and it is easy to install. I use Word Count and SEO plugins for my 2 WordPress blogs and it saves lots of money from hiring a web developer to code the script for your website.

  14. WordPress has a learning curve but once that is mastered, you can use it nicely. But that does not mean you can solve every WordPress issue. But WP is the best CMS for blogging.

  15. WordPress is one of the easiest CMS we can use and I am totally agreed with you that it will always depend on how your developer built your site through this platform. I think we can overcome the difficultness of updating contents through proper client orientation, tutorial and other technical support.

  16. It’s a free open source platform with easy set up procedure and a variety of available plugins that allows developers to build a site from personal to anything commercial. This CMS has no coding limits and this enables design experts to design high quality templates for all types of websites. A must CMS for everyone I should say.

  17. I want to thank everyone for commenting on this article. It was my intention to educate business owners to the power of this tool, but depending upon the complexity of the design and function they needed not all wordpress developers work the same way. Thanks again to everyone!

  18. I am a WordPress Designer after years of coding using Dreamweaver. I simply love the flexibility and ease of WP. Although, I may have forgotten a little about what it’s like to be a lay person in the web design industry, I do think it is the best solution for a happy relationship between designer and client. I is easy for the client to maintain themselves if they wished, helping to reduce unnecessary expenses.

  19. I have not personally used WordPress, but I find that Drupal is relatively easy to get used to and has a logical structure, making it easier to adjust to. I will investigate WordPress though.

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