You Cannot Offer Development Services Without Understanding Development

One of the greatest things about WordPress is that it has a very low barrier to entry. If you’re just starting out on the web, you have the ability to stand up a website with very little work. But that’s also one of its greatest drawbacks.

I’m not saying that someone should have to be a code wiz to create a personal blog to jot down their thoughts. But the flood of WYSIWYG warriors turned developers that has saturated the WordPress space is depressing.

Using a drag-and-drop page builder to create websites is not development.

Buying a stock theme, especially from ThemeForest, throwing it up on a web server with WordPress and making some configuration changes to create a website is not development.

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for this sort of thing. there’s definitely a market for websites with zero customization necessary, and I believe they should be priced appropriately. But if you’re using one of these solutions to create websites, please don’t call yourself a developer.

First, it gives actual developers a bad name, especially when things break spectacularly down the line. And depending on the drag-and-drop solution used, things definitely will break. There’s only so far you can push drag-and-drop solutions until you get to the end of the line, and that line’s not very long.

And while I’m on the subject, could those of you in the WordPress space who create and sell these kinds of solutions please quit selling them as “Create amazing websites in minutes with no code required?” You’re cheapening WordPress, and web development as a whole, by doing this. That pitch also creates very low user expectations, which developers then have to manage.

I’m not saying you can’t offer any services whatsoever. there’s plenty of room for people who can put together simple websites for clients. You can even charge for it. But unless you are actually writing code that changes the way WordPress functions, either through a plugin or a theme, and you know what goes where in regard to plugins and themes, please don’t call yourself a developer.

Don’t call yourself a developer unti you’re familiar with how WordPress works inside and out, how it interacts with plugins and themes, and how it interacts with the rest of your stack. There are books that will help you get to that point, including WordPress: Professional Design and Development, and WordPress: Professional Plugin Development, both by Brad Williams.

Don’t call yourself a developer until you have at least working familiarity with how the rest of your stack works. There are books for that too. If you don’t like books, there are plenty of free resources online for both of these subjects.

And finally, don’t call yourself a developer until you’ve learned HTML, CSS, and then PHP, JavaScript, or some other scripting or programming language. HTML and CSS are the foundations of the web, and are built-upon in a lot of ways by the scripting and programming languages designed for the web.

Once you’ve learned all this, then you can call yourself a developer and offer the appropriate services along with implementation services and whatever else fits your skillset. But you do a disservice to yourself, your clients and the WordPress and web development communities by billing yourself as a developer when you’re not.


Comments

  • Amanda:

    The sentence in your article that stung a bit when I read it this morning included the phrase “with no code required”. One of the tools that I use frequently is set up to facilitate that type of activity. In the year of using the tool it to make my clients’ websites more flexible–I have learned by asking MANY support questions, listening in on the developer’s podcast, and breaking things along the way.

    As a WordPress Implementer (https://tommcfarlin.com/wordpress-developers-programmer-implementer/), I know I have a way to go if I am planning to grow my skills and someday be able to be considered a developer.

    Recently, I read an article by Brianna Morgan about imposter syndrome (http://technical.ly/philly/2015/11/09/imposter-syndrome/)…right after taking a local Girl Develop It Intro to Javascript class (http://www.meetup.com/Girl-Develop-It-South-Jersey/events/225407743/). The class was conducted by an awesome teacher but I know it will take many hours of practice to be able to use Javascript in the real world.

    If you will be attending WordCamp US 2015, I hope we get a chance to connect in person.

    • Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for your comment. To clarify the sentence you’re referring to, I’m not saying you can’t build websites with page builders. You can, and there’s definitely a market for that kind of service. It’s just that using a page builder will never get you the same results that you would get if a custom or customized solution were built. What I’m objecting to is not page builders perse, although I personaly don’t care for them because in nine cases out of ten, there’s no way to completely control the markup that’s generated, among other things. I’m objecting specifically to the segment of the WordPress services market that employs things like page builders, and some knowledge of what’s in the plugin repo, or some plugins they have an affiliate relationship with, and then bill themselves as WordPress developers. It doesn’t sound like you’re that kind of person. Also,major cudos on working to up your game.

      Unfortunately, I will not be at WordCamp US, so we won’t be able to meet this time around. But maybe next year, or at some other WordCamp.

      Amanda

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