For some unknown reason, the number of “WordPress Developers” out there is probably nearing the number of Java developers, despite of the fact that all Java 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 500 applications for WordPress development.
A tiny chunk of them had exposure to code at all. The rest of them usually fall in one of the following categories:
- WordPress installers – setting up WP websites and installing themes
- WordPress administrators – people who use theme option panels from premium themes and a multitude of plugins to “build” a website
- Virtual assistants
- People who have in fact edited some HTML/CSS to align a menu or hide an element
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 or applications. Nowadays I do receive submissions by various people, including people with little to no exposure to computer use or even “developers” who don’t own a computer (but rather use a smartphone to change themes, write short posts and post statuses on Facebook).
Most people suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect and 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 proper manner:
— Erica Schaaf (@EricaSchaaf1) November 14, 2015
Running a website could be WordPress administration or operation, or a number of different terms that have nothing to do with web development.
This wouldn’t have been a major problem unless it affected the entire industry:
- Millions of amateurs selling WordPress services claiming to do what they don’t, in fact, do
- Various clients looking for expert programmers and getting lost in the pool of amateurs
- New clients receiving ridiculously low price offers from “super admins” which leads to huge gaps when receiving an offer for a custom solution on top of WordPress
- Large customers picking another platform due to disappointment by their experience with “WordPress developers” (or generally being unable to find any decent ones)
- Amateurs not knowing what “development” entails and lacking the scope of work a developer deals with on a day-to-day basis
- WordPress customers being hacked, suffering from slow page load times and broken websites
- WordPress plugin repository filled in with plugins causing various issues related to performance, compatibility, broken UI and more
- I’m not even going to touch on the premium WP themes
I’ve written about that plenty of times in different context:
- Why “WordPress Expert” is Not a Real Title?
- The WordPress Industry Is Just As Every Other Field
- On WordPress Talent Shortage
- WordPress Job Titles and Skills – Where Do We Stand?
- Setting the Wrong Example
- Envato Or Why Race To the Bottom Is Dangerous?
- Code Quality and Free Plugins
- Your WordPress Business is Not There Yet
- Keeping WordPress Up-To-Date Is Not Enough
- The Problem With Having To Educate Your Customers
- Blogging And Helping the WordPress Business Ecosystem
I wrote the definitive guide of the skills taught at a Computer Science specialty that are relevant to WordPress development at WP Elevation:
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.
So, 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 to evolve 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. Providing real value and investing your relevant skills 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.