A glimpse of the roles of the people who make up the team of the WordPress software from the user’s perspective.
WordPress is an open source software. Since it’s debut in 2003 it has gone on to be the software of choice because of its flexibility and strength at the base of the software. Approximately 60 million websites run on WordPress.
The first role we should consider is the Developer. The person who has a love affair with the code language, the hypertext markup language (HTML) used to drive the software.
The brains behind the commands for the code. The system of code follows a definite protocol. Volunteer developers from all over the world contribute to the source code of WordPress.
A developer is a unique individual devoted to logic and challenge and knows HTML and PHP. PHP is an acronym for Hypertext Processor. This is a recurring acronym for all web pages. It is a scripting language used in all open source software.
This is what code looks like.
The core WordPress developer team are what is called top tier developers. These are the top of the line and are the developers who know what they are doing. The WordPress software is a testament to their work. They bring the software to the point where the user does not have to make too many choices. The practical decisions of the workings of WordPress commands are in place, all you are doing is using the commands. This is what makes WordPress so flexible and easy to use.
Developers worldwide contribute to the WordPress core. They collaborate and work online. When you think about this accomplishment it’s remarkable. All the different personalities and nationalities uniting through a common computer language to produce the WordPress software.
The WordPress developers say “code is poetry.” It’s a good metaphor as it aptly describes the expression of being able to press words through the WordPress content management system.
The developer’s role encompasses the bloom of technology. It has burst into our lives and enjoys everyday usage by everyone. The ability to develop, design, and use software, is the collaboration of ideas and technology to produce WordPress; the user’s software for a professional website. The developer can come up with a complete solution and solve problems just with the code.
Technology moves fast and the developer moves with it.
The new media requires graphics and interactivity. The online experience is not the same as reading a magazine. Originally the magazine editors were called on to transfer what was in print onto the web. This didn’t quite work. The web is not the same as a magazine. The connecting system of active hyperlinks offers more than a single page. Everything is linked within a site and connected from the Homepage to the About page to the Blog page. The user travels with one click and is in control of how they interact with the information.
The designer plans the form and the workings of something before it’s made or built. In the case of the WordPress designer they are working with an already built product. The language of computer software design takes its style form with HTML and CSS, using the code to produce aesthetic effects. The designer brings out a style that overlays the WordPress core software.
The designer is more than a visual artist. They have the challenge to present the visual structure of the framework of the website. Their vision has to reach into the architect of the layout of the website as well as into the user’s perspective. A word here about designers and developers. If they never talk to each other then they are polarized by their ego. When there is a good design team, they have developers and designers working together.
The designer knows code and works with CSS, cascading style sheets. The CSS code when placed into the Theme will create a specific effect or style that was not there before. That sounds obvious, but it’s worth repeating it to understand how it works. The website for the user is built by a team of designers and developers. When the Theme is well built it’s usually the result of a dedicated team.
Less Is More
The challenge of design is the production of aesthetic elements to bring out the idea of the purpose of the website. Designers create and style Themes. For a designer the challenge is to achieve a refined, less is more appeal, to showcase the content within the site. The designer achieves the balance between the aesthetics and the content so as not to overpower the content within the site.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. There is temptation to put more information on a page thinking it’s convenient for the visitor. The web page becomes cluttered and the user is distracted with too many options.
This is the all important person who uses the combination of the work of the developer and the designer. Which is the best Theme? There isn’t one. It’s what appeals to you when you look at the Theme. You’re the judge and the jury on this one. If you want an opinion, you’re going to get a biased opinion from the person who created the Theme or from someone who uses the Theme.
At some point you are going to use the site and operate it. This is practical experience and doesn’t cost you anything except time. If someone does it for you; you don’t learn the basics and you’ll always be at the mercy of the designer or developer.
The results of using WordPress:
- You’ll be a unique individual who will know how WordPress works
- Capable of using your website to your advantage
- Operate the site and add to it as you go along
Here comes the fun part. Tread carefully. There are many people who are going to try to take advantage of you at this stage. Yes, it’s true. This is human nature. What you have to look for is clarity, a reputable company, or individual, with a team of developers and designers who produce a quality product that has you in mind, not them.
Let me use myself as an example. I am not a developer, or a designer, I am a user. I know about using WordPress Themes because I’ve used WordPress since 2006 and have used several Themes. I use a ready made theme from a reputable theme company that offers me tech support if I need it. I don’t re-do the Theme or change anything. The most I would do is copy and paste some CSS code into a module to create a specific effect, because I learned how to do it through watching a video from the technical support video library.
A developer can design a whole website. They structure the entire site in their own way. They might use the WordPress core software or not. If you want an entirely customized theme you could ask a developer to make you one. This depends on what your website is for. Everyone’s need is different.
Before you decide to go with a particular designer or developer, ask as many questions as you like and make sure you’ve seen their work. There has to be a visible skill level that satisfies you.
A designer or developer that doesn’t like questions from the client, is wasting your time. If you’re intimidated by a developer or a designer because you’re an unfortunate client and don’t know anything, walk away from that kind of person.
Be wary of the easy to use and setup in three minutes. I can tell you from experience it did not take me three minutes to set up my website. Nothing does. That is just to make you feel like there isn’t any work you have to do so you’ll fall for the easy to do.
When you go looking for a theme make sure the company is a reputable one.
Look for these things:
How regularly are their themes updated?
Do you have to pay to upgrade the theme?
Is the theme compatible with WordPress core updates?
If you run into problems is there sufficient tech support available to you?
Is there enough documentation about how to operate the theme?
When you are going to use the software you want to be sure you’re in charge of what you are going to use. At first it might seem intimidating because you’re bound to meetup with someone who says they can take care of all your website needs. If you go through the steps to find out, you’ll make the right decisions the first time and not have the “migration headache.”
The “migration headache” starts when you want to use another theme and the existing theme conflicts with the new theme overlay. Switching themes is never a good idea.
Themes are alterations or extensions and they use code to create particular effects. One effect might not be in use in another Theme. There’s no good switching mechanism not even a plugin. The plugin will have competing code.
Another “migration headache,” moving from one hosting server to another. Not all hosts have the same configurations in their back panels. Code is proprietary to one platform and isn’t compatible with another platform. That’s the way technology works.
There are people behind everything we do. Now that you have met the people behind WordPress, including the user, you have the knowledge you need to make the right choices for your website.
If you’re still not sure what to do and want to talk to a WordPress user, contact me.
What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? The most asked question about a website or a blog.
This post gives you the information based on my personal journey with WordPress. There is nothing more valuable than actual experience. We’re bombarded with information telling you what to do. What if you had the information that helps you based on real time experience?
You have to have this discussion before you start a website powered by WordPress.
This post is not the usual pros and cons and full of statistics to compare the different kinds of software you can use for a website. I’m biased because I’ve used, and enjoy using, WordPress since 2006. I don’t code… yet. I can open and close tags and operate the automatically generated code inside my website if I want to.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with creating the abstract concept of the Web writes in his book Weaving The Web, “I never intended HTML source code (the stuff with the angle brackets) <href> to be seen by users. A browser/editor would let a user simply view or edit the language of a page or hypertext as if they were using a word processor.”
The WordPress end product is a word processing content management system intended for the user. The code working in the background compliments the software so you don’t have to keep changing the code as you use WordPress.
The developers of WordPress core work with the code.
The developers keep pace with this change. The tech world can be finicky, some tech people are not as nice as others, but that’s life. Everyone has an ego and it’s the end result of the product that matters.
Take heart, the learning curve will always be there for everyone, developers, designers, and users.
An Explanation of WordPress.com
WordPress.com is a hosting platform. This means your website is one among many and is hosted on WordPress.com.
When you first start out with WordPress it’s no secret there is a learning curve with the software. The workings of WordPress are not difficult to master, they just require some time to get to know the command options inside the admin dashboard of the website, or blog.
WordPress.com offers you a free startup site. You can have a website or blog on this platform. You have use of free Themes offered within the platform. On a free platform there are restrictions. One of the restrictions is the placement of WordPress Ads on your website. Another is a restricted memory and technical service. Anytime something is free, it means upgrade to WordPress.com plans.
One of the major restrictions is you cannot use a premium Theme you purchased and import this Theme. You must use a Theme within the platform. Another example of a free platform is Blogger.com. Using this platform is within the Blogger environment and subject to restrictions. I started a hobby blog some time ago Meditations.solutions on Blogger. I own the domain so there are no advertisements on my blog. You can’t upload WordPress on Blogger… yet.
There is nothing wrong with hosting your blog on either of these platforms. What you have to do is decide what your needs are when it comes to having a website or a blog.
What kind of website or blog?
You know, we’re constantly being told what we need to know to do something. Since when? We are intelligent and can think for ourselves. In reality, the web has made everyone savvy. It’s been twenty-five years since the first proposal was submitted by Sir Tim Berners-Lee who gave us the World Wide Web. We use it all the time, and we’re just not that ignorant as some would have us believe.
WordPress.com is a hosting company and offers you various price ranges based on the future plans for your website or blog. You may not initially know how your business or hobby is going to expand.
The technology we use today is forward thinking and you have to move forward with it.
We’re seeing the startup and the slowdown as we ride the wave of fast paced software applications doing more for us on the Web.
When you start out on a free platform you’re going to want to expand at some stage. The platform does limit you still in what you can and cannot import into the platform, because this is the way the platform works. It’s no use wanting the platform to change, that’s not going to happen. You have to adjust to what are your needs for your website.
You can upgrade your free account and stay with WordPress.com then this becomes your Hosting company. Within the WordPress.com environment you are subject to what is specific to WordPress.com.
WordPress is an open source software and it has become one of the most widely used software applications to power a website. WordPress.org is the information resource website. It is NOT a hosting company. WordPress.org recommends hosting companies that meet the requirements of WordPress.
WordPress.org provides the codex information. Codex is a library of information to help developers and designers with using code to build WordPress websites. The entire website uses this core software code to operate. Tech support is available in the forums of WordPress.org should you need it.
One of the features of WordPress is the ability to load into the core software a Plugin. The Plugin is created by a developer who adds to the existing core code a specifically designed function to enhance the operation of your website.
As the word plug-in implies, you’re plugging into the website another set of code.
To give you an example there are many features you can add; you only have to choose from 44,000+ Plugins. This tells you how many things you can do with your website as you go on in your online journey to build a business, a service, or a hobby.
All the plugins are tested and have to pass through the top tier developers of WordPress core software. You can’t just develop a plugin and upload it into the WordPress.org Plugin Repository.
You DON’T download WordPress from WordPress.org unless:
You’re a developer and want to develop a WordPress website.
You’re a designer and want to build a Theme.
If you’re a user of WordPress not a developer or a designer?
Are you going to self-host your Website?
Self-hosting means having your own website on the server of your choice with a name for your website, a domain name. You’re independent from a platform and can use any WordPress Theme and operate your website without restrictions other than proprietary activity required of all websites.
Over 60 million people use WordPress, it’s the preferred software because it’s flexible, secure, and built for the user. The Hosting Company will have a WordPress install feature in the back panel. This is where the WordPress core software is imported into your website, from the WordPress.org repository, the official, updated WordPress core software.
The Hosting Company will send you the admin login information. When you log into your website you will be in the Dashboard of your website. At this point there is no active Theme. If you’ve chosen a Theme, then you’ll upload that Theme .zip folder from your computer to your host’s server.
Your choice of a Theme is vital to the launching of your idea for a website. It’s that important.
Why? Because at this stage of not being a developer or a designer, you’re not quite sure how the Theme works yet. You’re about to find out when you start working on your website or blog. If the developer of the Theme has a reputable company, and your Theme is compatible with the latest WordPress core update, which happens frequently, you’re not in trouble.
If you bought an outdated Theme, there will be compatibility issues with the existing code. Not all code works well together, this is because no two people approach something the same way. A designer of a Theme might override existing core code temporarily, and then WordPress core updates the problem and cancels out the designer’s existing code.
This is a common problem with code with all software for websites. In an ideal world we shouldn’t have these kinds of conflict. Well, we don’t live in a perfect world.
About WordPress Themes
They come with a GPL license, which means a general public license granted to you to use. Depending on the arrangement with the Theme developer, you may have to purchase an upgrade to continue to use the Theme, or worse, find another Theme.
Here’s where you have to do the research
- Find out the facts about the company that produces the Theme
- There are good companies and bad ones like anything else in this world
- The Theme has to fit the kind of website you want
- Is the Theme updated regularly?
- Is there enough support documentation to guide you through learning how to use the Theme?
One thing I learned as a user of WordPress, follow the designer’s lead
The designer is the one who thoroughly understands the framework of WordPress as well as the design element to complement the content within your site. I found one such designer, Nick Roach. The lead designer at Elegant Themes. With each Theme I have used in their Theme repository, I find the element of clean, open design. From this vantage point you’re using the Theme for your website’s intended purpose
I’ve used Elegant Themes since 2010. Their service and Themes keep getting better. In 2015 I found out about Elegant Themes affiliate program (this is an affiliate link). I became an affiliate because I’m comfortable recommending them for their Themes and tech support based on my experience.
If you’re still not sure about your WordPress website decision process, get in touch with me.