Are you a WordPress Developer, Designer, Coder, Programmer, Implementer, Creator, Maker, Builder, Consultant, or Artist?
At first I was slightly insulted – what do you mean, I’m not a WordPress Developer? For more than ten years, I’d been using WordPress along with other tools to “develop” client’s ideas and website needs into customized websites. Just because I don’t type out the code by hand, does that mean I’m just a WordPress implementer? Lately there had been a bit of talk online about what a WordPress developer really is, and whether the WordPress community should use that other term, “implementer,” for someone who sets up WordPress websites for clients, but doesn’t fully customize them using programming or coding.
Here, I’ll outline my most important tools and OPC’s, or “other people’s code” that I use to create fully customized websites for clients.
While the meaning of the word “developer” in the website creation world has come to mean “coder,” I’m going back to a broader meaning in my thinking. I say that a WordPress developer is someone who creates websites using the WordPress platform, regardless of how much they delve into the code to “develop” the website itself.
To create a WordPress website, the person in charge must always bring together a number of tools, use them in a way that works for the building of the site, and implement the results into a working website. These could be other people’s code, functional plugins and themes, graphics work in Photoshop, Envato, or from the desks of other designers, and of course, the open-source WordPress content management system.
Because I’m a self-taught website creator, I’ve learned a lot about different programming languages, server environments, content management systems and design tools. However, I’ve never felt limited in what I can create because I can’t quite code my way from scratch to a complete website. I’m always editing and playing around with CSS, WordPress PHP files, and Photoshop documents in the website projects I’m working on, but even though I’m not building everything from scratch, I’d say that I’m still a “WordPress website developer.”
And, you can be a WordPress developer too. Here are the tools I use most in my business.
- WordPress – of course! The open source framework for everything I do for clients is the basis for my success in business. Because so many other people have created themes, plugins and different types of websites on top of this freely available system, I’m able to use much of their work to create unique and specialized custom work for clients.
- Photoshop. Yes, some of the tools I use cost money, but they are all worth it! Adobe Photoshop makes it easy for me to customize existing graphics within themes, and create logos and text graphics easily from scratch for each client project.
- Genesis from Studiopress. This WordPress parent theme framework makes it easy to offer clients a choice of well-built mobile responsive child themes as a starting point. Then, I can easily customize the themes until they no longer resemble their original design (if needed), and completely fit the needs of the client. I use their high-value developer’s license to be able to freely offer the framework and any of their child themes to clients.
- Premium.WPMUDev.org. My membership to this plugin team’s website gives me so many valuable WordPress plugins, I rarely have to anywhere else for specific website functions I need for clients.
- WordPress.org Plugin Repository. Even with the above premium plugin membership, there are many useful plugins that I use for free through the repository. And, I can search for what I need, assess the plugins viability through reviews and stats, and install right from the WordPress Dashboard.
- MAMP. Being able to work on a new WordPress website on my local computer is faster, private, and easy. I can use the MAMP free local server setup to test sites on my Mac and my Windows computers, and the development environment is completely isolated – then when I’m ready, I can quickly migrate the site to the hosting server.
- A text editor, with programming syntax help. I’ll often bring other people’s code into an editor to try different implementations, and having an editor that formats code in an easy-to-read way is helpful. Atom, Text Wrangler (Mac) and Notepad++ (Windows) are the ones I use.
- Browser developer tools. I use the Firefox browser, and the Web Developer Toolbar is an extension I use to search my website projects to find CSS code references in the markup of pages, to help narrow down what I need to edit. Firebug is another for Firefox, and Chrome comes with an excellent developer tool called Chrome DevTools.
- Business tools: Paypal for taking payments, and Microsoft Excel for creating invoices and quotations. Excel has a great free invoice template that’s easy to edit and professional looking. I bet you could find one for Google Drive too. I’ve never felt the need to spend money on anything more.
- The Internet at large. This is a big one: you can find everything you need to know, for any project idea, through Google, WordPress sites and forums, and by searching for others who have done similar things.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a trained programmer or a self-taught implementer: you can be a WordPress Developer. We all use the tools at hand, either out of need, convenience, or speed…and that’s ok! The open source nature of WordPress itself has opened up the ability for anyone to use it for creating powerful websites; it’s the addition of all the amazing code and tools that other people have added to the ecosystem, that makes it what it is. Don’t feel bad using OPC’s, or “other people’s code” in your projects – it’s meant to be that way.
Please share in the comments if there are tools I didn’t mention that you use in your WordPress development, and we can all get better by sharing.