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Don't Call Yourself a Developer If You Don't Code - Mario Peshev

For some unknown reason, the number of “WordPress Developers” out there is probablynearing the number of Java developers, despite of the fact that allJava developers do program extensively whilst the WordPress developers far too often have no idea what’s going on behind the admin panel.

I do conduct interviews on a weekly basis for various reasons, and over the past couple of years I’ve probably shortlisted over 700 applications for WordPress development. The original article was written late 2015 and updated in April 2017, adding up to a few hundred interviews on the way – both locally, virtually, and by telecommuters interested in joining our team or any of the technical teams led by our ongoing retainer clients.

Existing programming solutions. Via

A tiny chunk of the applicants had any exposure to code at all. The rest of them usually fall in one of the following categories:

Developers Actually Code

According to Wikipedia, “Software Development” is:

Software development is the process of computer programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications and frameworks involved in a software release life cycle and resulting in a software product. The term refers to a process of writing and maintaining the source code, but in a broader sense of the term it includes all that is involved between the conception of the desired software through to the final manifestation of the software, ideally in a planned and structured process.

There is no ambiguity here. At all.

Programming, writing code, building products, maintaining code and bug fixing. None of those means “installing a platform with a few clicks” or “customizing options built by other programmers“.

I used to find that amusing over the first dozen or two interviews and applications. Nowadays, I do receive submissions by various people, including folks with little to no exposure to power user Internet usage or even “developers” who don’t own a computer (but rather use a smartphone to change themes, write short posts andpost statuses on Facebook).

Most people suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effectand know nothing, hence claim to be developers. But far too often this is not the case.

I stumbled upon a tweet that was defined in a propermanner:

As a WordPress Designer/Super Admin – I can't wait to give #blog insights from #mnblogcon to my blogger clients!

— Erica Schaaf (@EricaSchaaf1) November 14, 2015

Running a website could be WordPress administrationoroperation, or a number of different terms that have nothing to do withweb development.

This wouldn’t have beena major problem unless it affected the entire industry:

I’ve written about that plenty of times in different context:

The State of WordPress Development

For everyone working actively in the software engineering industry programming all day long and shaming WordPress, there is some merit to the global perception of the WordPress community. A good percentage of the small business websites and blogs are often DIY solutions or merely WordPress installations with a bunch of themes and plugins installed.

That said, there are more than enough use cases that require heavy programming, scaling large systems, performing migrations from 3rd party frameworks to WordPress platforms, enhancing security for enterprises, building educational multisite networks for universities, crafting Software as a Service solutions on top of WordPress and more.

We’ve been involved in each of these cases. Currently, we doprovide ongoing development for several sites generating over 10M page views a month, as well as franchise networks ran by enterprises, large media outlets, professional event management platforms and several more.

WordPress as an Application Framework

While WordPress has initially started as a blogging platform, its popularity has led to increasing the scope of applications that WordPress is a suitable solution for.

Back in WordPress 3.0, custom post types and an editable taxonomy engine were introduced. Over the years, WordPress became a tool of choice for application framework development as well. In 2016, the REST API had been included as a part of the WordPress Core, making it possible to build single page applications or completely detached software solutions interacting with a WordPress website through its various APIs.

Moreover, the most popular eCommerce solution nowadays is WooCommerce – currently powering 41% of all eCommerce websites using a known eCommerce platform:

WordPress has been used by thousands of reputable brands, high-traffic websites, Fortune 500 companies and some of the leading giants on the Internet. Their teams are comprised of capable PHP and JavaScript engineers, devops experts, integration specialists and other qualified folks who make sure that the system is up and running, compatible withupcoming features and additional enhancements, secure, and fast.

I wrote the definitive guide to the skills taught at a Computer Science specialty that is relevant to WordPress development at WP Elevation:

Building a Web Product Requires a Set of Skills

My guide includes a list of skills such as: Computer Architectures, Operating Systems, Networks, Databases,Programming Languages, Data Structures, Algorithms and more that are used by developers while building a web solution in order to build a robust, scalable and reliable end product for the right stack while considering other aspects related to building, operating and running a web solution.

Should Web Developers Use WordPress?

Yes, there is no practical reason for web developers to avoid WordPress whenever the platform provides a good chunk of the required functionality.

Let’s take into account the fact that WordPress comes with a bunch of features out of the box:

With that in mind, as a web developer you don’t need to reinvent the wheel when you can use WordPress. Put your PHP and JavaScript skills in use, study the default database schema and the plugin APIs provided by WordPress and use it as an application framework accordingly – just as you’d do with Laravel, FuelPHP, CakePHP, CodeIgniter or any of the other frameworks out there (excluding the UI element).

Otherwise, if you’re someone who offers “WordPress development” but don’t code, and you haven’t read about the different layers under WordPress itself, please change your title to something relevant to your skills and service offering. Also, in order toevolve and start offering valuable solutions, allocate some time and start reading – extensively – about everything that happens from the hardware through the network layers to the databases and programming languages.

Installing a website itself is of no service to most clients who can accomplish the same in a couple of hours with a cheap host providing a detailed guide on their website. Providingreal value and investing your relevantskills or partnering with a technical expert would be far more rewarding to you and your customers, and allow you to step up and take on great custom projects for large businesses.


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