Having been prospecting lately and encountering quite a few potential clients struggling to understand what the different types of WordPress developers have required skill sets.
A good WordPress developer or associated service provider should be able to explain each type of setup as many cross over into one another and it can very easily be a common point of confusion. It’s also very common to wear multiple hats in terms of being able to provide more than one of these services or arrangements.
With that in mind, prepared this short reference guide for the various different developer types (or support roles) on the journey to get either a custom component or site built:
Definitions of Types of WordPress Developers:
Also see these posts that explain similar information in a different way:
- What’s a WordPress Developer from Creative Minds
- The Seven Types of WordPress Developers and Which to Hire from Convertica
- 5 Different Types of WordPress Developers by WPauditor
There are varying levels of developers. A developer will tend to craft solutions based on their history of working knowledge of methods. They may either work with a team or on their own and are either writing their solutions from the ground up or work on extending the function of existing plugins or themes. More on how that works below…
There are many cases where a site can be built either with the bundled theme support or by using builders without the need for much custom implementation.
This can be anywhere from a Builder/Implementor as mentioned above to a member of a larger team or freelancer that handles a focus on putting together the visual presentation of a site or experience. Many developers maintain a dual role as both developer and designer. We typically think of a Designer as more of a front-end function, but there are also back-end components that need design oriented work.
A freelancer is somebody who works jobs individually (or as part of a very small group). Freelancer types vary across all different types of developers and service providers. Some might provide all services whereas some may specialize in one of the areas highlighted in this post.
An agency hires designers, developers and other service providers mentioned in this post. They may have a static office or maintain team(s) remotely.
Plugins give WordPress function on top of what is included in the “Core” base. Plugin Developers often write plugins to support the project they are working on. A company that sells or produces plugins for users will typically maintain a support staff as well.
WordPress comes with a new bundled theme and a new theme is released each year. Many use these themes, but there’s also a market for matching themes for specific requirements of users that already provide some (or all) of the necessity of either function or design. A theme is in essence a skinning of the underlying WordPress infrastructure. Themes often have similar types of features you might also find in a plugin made to handle a certain situation.
UI stands for User Interface and UX for User Experience. Some only specialize in these types of support and implementation. You’ll often also find that other service provider types cross over into providing these types of services as part of their offerings (as the experience from history being involved with projects feeds into having been able to see working cases and reactions). Most developers or designers (whether it be developers and designers of plugins, themes or sites) want to offer their product, service or implementation with the best possible experience or a structure that allows the user to most elegantly and/or quickly merge into either using an item or feeding into the goal of the site (conversion) for the intended purpose.
These providers structure site and element setup in order to be found on search engines for specific words placed into search. This includes setting up and monitoring analytics data and other metrics affecting sites.
This is a very broad term, but it extends to things like email lists, social networking, paid ad campaigns and tracking/providing data. These providers may also cross over into setting up local type listings on search engines and managing contacts so they receive content appropriate to them or become re-engaged.
Putting out fresh and engaging content can be essential to communicating to your customers and followers that you’re tuned into what their interest are. There are specialists available for hire that focus on writing pages in a way that’s easy to understand and assist in putting out blog posts on a timely basis. This often makes sense as this can be a time consuming endeavor in today’s busy world. We all typically want to write blog posts and update copy, but have our bandwidth tied up in providing and managing our services.
API Rep (From a Partner Company):
Many companies provide APIs (Application Program Interfaces). As a matter of fact, WordPress Core even has an API and bundles support for some APIs. These are systems that programmatically connect to a service (often a 3rd party service) to process or provide data of some type). This may be as simple as putting a key into a plugin options panel or it may involve custom coding in order to link the site/experience with the provider and data. Most companies that provide APIs will have support teams that have reps offering support and assistance as a successful link up means you are using their product.
Sometimes issues are related to the site and issues with coding or plugin/theme conflicts, but they are also often related to the software installed on the server or the way it’s setup. Companies providing hosting have support agents as some of this setup is often out of control of either a developer or user.
Sometimes a domain has been registered through the same company that is providing hosting and sometimes not. Technically, domains live in their own separate environment and they are pointed to where the hosting is located from that environment. This includes routing for web traffic and for email (as email can often be hosted on the same account as the website, but some choose to use a 3rd party provider as there are hosts that don’t provide email support or may not work with in a way desired by the client for some type of more advanced purpose. These companies have support agents to assist with the settings and maintenance of just the domain name or additional domain related services. Registrars who provide domain names and maintenance are often confused with hosting companies and vice versa, but they are more often than not, two different companies.
Some providers have an office where they (or their team) work in what would be a typical business office type setup.
Remote workers (also referred to with other terms such as “Distributed”) are located in different locations. This concept has been rapidly growing due to its ability to lessen business costs and the inherent attribute of web design and development being collaborative and typically requiring advanced collaboration software in just a general nature.
WP is a global CMS and initiative and due to the fact that design and development are well complimented by remote work, it’s not uncommon to see people participating in providing services from a broad range of cities, states and countries.
This can be anything from a freelancer located in a specific place to a company that employs people in different places.
(In Summary) Developers, Remote WordPress Developers:
Your needs will obviously require someone (or a team) with the skills that you need, but developers are not a “one size fits all.” Some may offer all of the services you require or it might be that you need specific things and really want a specialist for that purpose. You might want one provider vs. working with a team. Given our vibrant community, it’s assured that you can find what you need!