Are WordPress Developers “Real” Web Developers?

Are WordPress Developers “Real” Web Developers?

Many trades have snobbery, before we move on lets define a snob. The Oxford dictionary defines a snob as “a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who seeks to associate with social superiors and looks down on those regarded as socially inferior.” Within the development “community” you will find this across every facet of coding from how code is indented, to how classes are named all the way up to the idea that some coding practices are exceptional and others not. A PHP developer in the 2020s is seen as less than a JS coder using React etc.

All Programming Languages are Created Equal

When I started programming it was on a Spectrum 128k, it was not a language many folks would recognise now, line numbers and commands like “10 go to 20” were what challenged me, I was 11 at the time so fair dues. Equally as time progressed I saw things like Lingo from Macromedia, Action Script from Macromedia/Adobe, then PHP, HTML, CSS and Java and JavaScript.

Over the years I was exposed to things like Ruby and other languages/frameworks I never spent too long in any. But overall they are all tools from a time for a job, none are better or worse than each other. But most importantly the folks who use and or iterate these languages are absolutely not lesser than folks who code in other languages.

The Main Argument I Hear/See Online

“If you dont code the full stack you are not a developer.”

This is a flawed idea, as the idea of bespoke development for the entire stack is in many ways is like building a car from 100% self manufactured parts. This is a silly concept in 99% of use cases for a car, it is more true with websites.

If you sell your clients a stack you maintain 100% this is not customer centered in any way. Quite the opposite, a CMS like WordPress is ubiquitous so it comes with for sure some over heads, but in the main it offers the user/the client value as it is well known. No matter how “good” you feel your bespoke work is you are wrong, it is a paper tiger.

Bespoke is really a dirty word in development

All bespoke work will fail over a long enough timeline with the exception of static HTML sites, these are a niche in this argument. As if you plan to build a stagnant site then this is perfect. But this flies in the face of the last decades move to content marketing, the main reason the CMS or WP Dev will always offer more value than a snobby web dev using the latest framework and touting technical excellent over normality.

WordPress is building with Prefabricated Materials

Using a theme, plugin or any pre built WordPress component is using a thing others are actively using and have used before. With this comes a very small amount of communal risk but a huge saving from the real “community”.

This is the keystone idea of all programming the idea of shared research, this comes from the early days of the internet and how educational institutes fostered it as a fledgling technology. Many of the so called new full stack web ‘devs’ have forgotten this idea. We all share and there is no ownership of ideas and or code. You will see lines of code from DOOM and Quake I in modern first person shooters, these early pioneers of programming understood shareware and the open web.

Why I Use WordPress and Still consider myself a dev?

The main reason I have used WP for almost 2 decades is:

  • Speed of setup, with a managed host you can have an instance with SSL and all you need live in 20-60 seconds. Even on a super old cPanel or Plesk setup you can still get WP running in a few minutes. No messy shell commands to look fancy, no Github etc. Not that I cant do these things but I cant see any reason to look like something from a hackers style movie. Also I can train this skill and share it with anyone, unlike many of the “better” frameworks I see from time to time.
  • Technical SEO is easiest using WP, of course I would prefer to have total control over all aspects of the HTML, CSS etc. But there is a happy medium with WP which allows for a huge amount of automation and plugins to help generate core files, meta and schema.
  • Page Builders, if you use any level of code editor from Notepad++ to a more complex Java style IDE you are using a builder of some sort. The HTML editors I use allow a good and clean HTML front end. This is of course bloated in some way, but the reality is this has no real impact. For sure a user can via a builder create a mess of a page, but this is not relevant.
  • It is easy to train users on this platform. I leave my customers with a setup they can and will learn. The sites are built to allow for a back-end that is a small jump from a basic word editor like Word, Open Office or Google docs.
  • Long term reliability is key, I often log back into sites I built over 10 years ago, they are old for sure, but they still work. Also in 30 seconds to an hour you can upgrade over a decades worth of changes and updates, with ease. You cannot do this with a bespoke setup.
  • Hosting options now are also setup for WordPress only, this managed WP hosting, with a minimal compliment of themes and a good theme and builder gives you a very stable setup out of the box for an almost nominal cost.

In Summary

In summary, yes we that build websites of any kind are all “devs” you dont have to sit behind a black code window to be uniquely a developer, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.