September 27 2017

What is a WordPress developer?

WordPress logo

If you have recently been looking in to a having a new website built, or refreshing an existing website, the chances are you’ve probably heard of a platform called WordPress.

And if you want a WordPress website, the chances are that you’ll need to find a WordPress agency or WordPress developer to assist you in planning, designing and building your new website. So, what is it that a WordPress developer actually does?

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system is a tool to allow non-technical users to add, edit and manage their website’s content without requiring any – or very little – technical knowledge of website design and development.

WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, with around 30% of websites on the web built in WordPress (in top 10,000 websites; see this report from 2017 from builtwith.com). It is open source software meaning anyone can use it, for any purpose – commercial or otherwise. And WordPress is also free to use – though some additional plugins or services may cost you money.

WordPress development - usage statistics from BuiltWith for 2017. WordPress has 30% usage

Why is WordPress so popular? We think this is primarily because it makes adding and managing content on your website easy for people without much technical knowledge. It is kept purposely simple with a focus on the ability to create content. There are WordPress training courses available, too, for those who want to further their knowledge of the platform and perhaps learn some more effective ways of using WordPress to manage their content.

What does a WordPress developer actually do?

At a very simple level, a WordPress developer builds websites using the WordPress content management system. In practice, the term “WordPress development” is quite vague and could cover a range of different roles:

  • WordPress website builder: someone who is able to capable of building websites using pre-existing WordPress themes and plugins to reach the desired functionality and visual design of the website without any real technical knowledge.
  • WordPress web designer / frontend web developer: this type of WordPress developer focuses on translating the design of a website in to a functioning website. Building responsive (mobile-friendly) WordPress websites is a very common requirement these days.
  • WordPress developer / backend developer: these developers can build complex features for your website which aren’t necessarily available through WordPress’ extensive library of plugins, or customise existing plugins to your exact requirements.

Typical WordPress development tasks may include:

  • Assessing whether WordPress would be a sensible platform to build your website in
  • Designing and building a website using WordPress
  • Auditing WordPress websites for search engine optimisation purposes, code quality, or website performance issues
  • Migrating content from a different content management system to WordPress
  • Installing and configuring plugins for WordPress to add new functionality for the website
  • Updating WordPress and its plugins to keep your website secure
  • Helping clients who have had their websites hacked
  • Training clients to use WordPress more effectively

As you can see, WordPress developers cover a wide spectrum of services, and it’s a good idea to think about what you want from a WordPress developer or agency before engaging them.