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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 Developer

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.

PHP files have text, HTML (hypertext markup language), CSS (cascading style sheets) the language that describes the style of an HTML document and JavaScript the programming language invented by Brendan Eich in 1995. All these “languages” are used by the developer.

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 Designer

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.

The User

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

User Beware

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.

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