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!
It’s no mystery that social networking is essential in today’s website environment. It used to be if you could get listed in a prominent position on the Google Search Engine, that would be just fine and the traffic would sustain you. The Game Has Changed!
Here are some facts about Social Media and Social Networking Relative to the Success of Your WordPress Website.
- People ARE NOT likely to submit comments if they can’t login to your WordPress comment system with Facebook, Google or Twitter
- Users are impatient about joining a website that they cannot login to with a social networking profile
- People are making less comments on actual blogs and more on the social networking profiles that blog posts get submitted on to gain viral attention.
- People stick on mobile devices.
- No matter who you are, your blog will never have a larger following than Facebook, Google or Twitter.
Let’s Pick These Apart and Look at the “Why?”
Comments: Why Aren’t People Commenting as Much?
As a tech environment participant, I’m often looking for information on particular scripts or instructions on how to iron out conflicts. Quite simply, there is just less information available. Unfortunately, this makes it much more difficult for the casual non-tech user. It used to be that you could really count on finding solutions in comment sections. Not so much anymore.
Why is this? In my opinion, it is quite simply a time availability issue. People only have so much time and they are allocating it to social networking instead of blog participation. Building a network in this environment becomes much more difficult.
Very recently, I had a very complex MySQL WordPress database issue with an e-commerce website that I was attempting to solve where there were quite a few complex queries needs. Hours and hours of scowering the net, posting for help, gaining partial solutions and trying to piece the puzzle together gave a nice start, but not enough to solve this complicated situation.
One posts on Google+ to where I have some really amazing contacts…and a couple back and forths with a friend…and bingo, I was able to take what I had and piece it together and solve the problem. Success!
Joining a Site: Why is it Difficult to Get People to “Join” a Blog Site?
How many passwords do you have? How many bookmarks? It gets completely insane if you are online quite a bit and treasure many resources. There are SO MANY amazing resources on the net, but there are also so many different things we’re trying to do. On social networks, we can organize people who have expertise in different areas. Getting help or getting pointed in the right direction becomes much easier when you can find experts on the same social networks you are on.
Commenting on Social Networks: Why This is Easier for Most People.
We covered keeping track of websites. We all have our favorite resource sites we go to frequently and this is great…but how about all the other sites with good information?
The fact is, anyone who is anyone submits their posts (if they’re quality) to social networks. The posts themselves are often viewed…or just the topic is viewed…and an associated conversation or comment string ensues on social networks versus on the site itself.
Why? It’s just easier…you’re there already and logged in on Facebook, Google or Twitter and making a comment is just easy. Discussing is easy. We all like easy. The networks have made a concerted effort to provide this ease, and most of us really appreciate it in a day and age that there is not much time in the day with the sheer amounts of information we come across.
Stickyness on Mobile: Less Tabbing, More Directed Participation
SO MANY people are using mobile devices. It’s no joke.
If you’ve used laptops and desktops, you know the size of the screen can dictate the amount of different resources you can sustain at once. It also dictates how fluidly you can move through these resouces.
On mobile, a user can stick to one resource and use it to “bounce to” resources vs. actively seeking the resources. This is a significant difference in the way the user experience works. It’s a sort of “ADD effect” where we now are more in tune to wait for something interesting to come in front of us, vs. going out and seeking the interesting things.
That’s not to say we still don’t do this, but just think of the last interesting thing you’ve found…where did it come from?
Does Your Plan for Next Year Include a Much More Significant Focus on Utilizing Social Networking with Your Website?
A nice website sitting out on the net is great. You need it and without it, you might not be taken seriously in your sector. We all know this. This used to be much more singular. With the way times have changed, it’s now the same with your social presence. You don’t have to be a champ on all social networks, but if you aren’t participating in at least one actively, your klout in your space may not be taken as seriously. Especially when there are plenty of competitors that are seen as active.
This has all come on pretty fast and therefore, most people planning for the next year of online application are putting a significant emphasis on planning and integrating social networking into their presence approach. You simply can’t deny it’s out there and statistically, there is no argument to the power.
Understanding the Networks
This is just my opinion of the breakdown of the 3 big social networks based on my experience.
Facebook: We all know a lot of people depend on Facebook for their one social network. Their family is there, their friends are there, they’ve built some sort of a business presence there (or think they have) (it may not be effective)…but the fact is that pretty much everyone has it, and a lot of people hang on it. It’s familiar and they’ve grown with it.
I find there to be much more casual, non-tech or business postings there, but what you see will be very relative to how you’ve chosen to make friends and who they are.
Google+: Due to the newness of this network and most of the early adopters being tech, photograpy or art related people, you will find a large concentration of these types of people on Google+. If you are one of these by nature, you will feel very at home.
This is changing and people in other categories are coming onto the scene, as has the ability to create a business presence. There is also a great ability to organize your contacts into categories or “circles” based upon what they are related to. Facebook offers this to some degree as well, but the G+ network is centered around this capability, and therefore, it is very powerful once you understand it.
Twitter: Twitter is awesome for exchanging resource links and even finding information by subject. Things move extremently quickly and without an app, it’s hard to really keep organization…before Google+, this was also the “techhaus” with more development and tech sector participants. This has obviously spread out over time to casual users, celebrities and about everyone as an active environment with ability to connect with others and offer updates and information…and due to the limited posting length, many enjoy the simplistic nature of the posts, being able to look through many, yet still follow which may be of interest.
Posting at the Best Times
This deserves an article unto itself, and there are many theories as to which timeslot is the best. It can also be specific to your individual networks as to when the attention is at prime. Doing research on this is vital. I’ll be sharing some of mine in the coming future, based on polling and intensely seeking understanding of this based on my networks. If you are not seeking when your contacts are there to look at what you have to say, you may be missing a crucial opportunity to connect. Remember, sometimes success can be the difference of just one person.
Use or Lose…Period…
The entire purpose of writing this post is to hammer home the fact that YOU MUST have a social networking strategy for website success. The more organization, planning and specifics the better.
There has been a rise of professoinals who are focussing on this space, assisting others to move into it or gain more from it.
Why are there no experts?
Many will identify themselves as experts…since no two networks of people are the same, each must be viewed and understood differently…social groups are a personal thing…and as such, a personal specific approach is key.
Hiring somebody to get the tech and approach you need still makes sense, but keeping the fact that your group is not the same as their group and structuring your plan around that will determine success.
Doing nothing to plan and implement technology to either move into or increase your activity on one or more social networks WILL, by statistics, earmark you as being less important in your space.
Plan Now…Plan in Writing…Do Things…Take Action…Succeed.
Overall update of WordPress and the direction 3.8 is going (discussion with Sarah Gooding, Jeff Chandler and Matt Mullenweg)
(Podcast Audio) (WPWeekly on WPTavern)