I hear this alot and it annoys me, especially when it comes from marketers.
WordPress started small in 2003 and was a great way to start up a blog if you couldn’t afford a website. A “personal publishing” system, in their own words. When I was working in the IT space in the 90s to mid 00s, a website was not the inexpensive solution it is today. The technology that is so commonplace and relatively cheap today was far from it then. Websites could cost you 5 figures (and much much more if you were a larger company or needed a really comprehensive website). I did not design the sites then (aside from my own internal web-based intranet documentation sites), but designed the infrastructure that supported it, and the firewalls that protected it. Only larger companies could possibly afford it. But then, WordPress came along and made having your own space, your own voice on the internet possible. There wasn’t much in the lines of customization then, and the sites tended to look very “bloggy”, but it was a great start for many smaller businesses. And it was relatively easy for the novice to set up.
My how we’ve grown, WordPress!
When I was first introduced to it several years ago, I poo-poo’d it immediately – “it’s a blogger tool!” How wrong I was!
My good friend, and now partner in WordPress crime, Tom, spent some time teaching me the inner workings of it. He set me up on his plan and a space to play with….and away I went! It didn’t take long for my little IT brain to get the gist of things and I fell in love with it (as much as one can fall in love with such a thing).
As WordPress is open source, independent developers set out to enhance this “blogging tool”, and over the last several years that I have used it it’s gotten better and better and better. More features, more customization options, you can have complete control now…
Is it “easy”?
Relatively speaking, sure. Can anyone set up a WordPress site? Sure, and with some youtube tutorials you could well be on your way. But I have seen time and again, people (consultants who are helping clients especially), think they can set it up in an afternoon, no problem! Then they break it, have no idea why and can’t fix it. If it was SO easy, then why can’t they fix it?
I’ve discovered that most marketers who decide to offer WordPress, are only learning the very tip of the iceberg of what they need to know to truly manage a WordPress implementation. Not only are the sites set up inefficiently, they do not understand how to resize images correctly, they do not understand “aspect ratios”, they install plug-ins that crash or warp the site and they don’t know how to fix it, they have no idea how to backup the site, and more importantly how to restore it should need arise, the have no idea how to properly manage domain settings, many don’t even understand the difference between “responsive” versus “mobile app”, they do not set up tools to analyze performance, security, how to test changes (change control for that matter) and they certainly don’t keep up to date on best practices.
So the next time you are in the market for a new website or web agency, be sure to not get too ‘wowed’ with the web “developers” design prowess – most of them are using themes anyway. Instead, make sure they have good technical “chops”, and can help you when times arise. Ask them things like “what do you do when there’s an outtage?” or, “how can I track my site’s success?”, “will you help me with changes” . Then you will be able to separate the “men from the boys” and make a better web developer choice.
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