What kind of WordPress user are you?

There are different kinds of WordPress users (or clients, or developers). Where do you fit in? Here’s how I group them, written from the perspective of a WordPress professional. (Note that I’ve included developers here, including myself.)

  1. First is the client who simply wants a website with laundry list of appearance and function requirements. They don’t care how it’s implemented, just that it meets their requirements. If those requirements include frequent changes/updates they will often hire someone to maintain it for them. Their interaction with their own site is minimal.
  2. There is the client who wants the same as the first user, except they expect to update and maintain the content themselves. They may have a preference for WordPress because they have used it before, but regardless their principal concern (beyond the initial laundry list) is easy access to the page/post editor. Set up the site and teach them how to edit their own content and they will be satisfied.
  3. Then there is the client who wants to be able to change color and appearance of their site. They love the theme switching ability of WordPress, but get really irritated when changing themes causes one of their required functions to stop working. These are the people who want a clear delineation between appearance and function, so the developer had better make sure to start with as simple/lean/feature-starved a theme as possible. This client needs to be taught the difference between themes and plugins, as well as how to use the theme switcher (but not the editor).
  4. Very similar to the above is the client who doesn’t have a laundry list to begin with, but wants to explore what can be done to their site by playing with plugins as well as themes. These are the neediest clients, because they tend to expect things to play well together, and are often unable to debug things when incompatibilities arise. Given adequate training they can become “WordPress Superusers”.
  5. The last three categories aren’t really clients, but developers. The first is the theme developer, who may start out by simply developing child themes by editing CSS style sheets, but eventually custom header, footer, 404, and page templates are developed until what started as a child theme has grown into a full-fledged theme in its own right. Their primary interest is the appearance of the site, and knowledge of CSS, HTML, and “the Loop” is where their expertise lies.
  6. On a similar level with the theme developer is the plugin developer, who usually starts out by taking apart an existing plugin to “fix” something in it. Or they may start by placing a snippet of code into functions.php, or working with a Custom Post Type utility to add some unique functionality to their site. Regardless of how they start down the path, before long they are learning the APIs and packaging their code snippets as plugins, initially for their own use but often they try to submit them to the repository. Their expertise is in PHP, JavaScript, the WordPress function library, and (hopefully) modular coding practices, with a side helping of MySQL database knowledge.
  7. The last category is what I call the functional theme developer. This is someone who strives to blend theme development and functional development into one package with a user interface that someone can access via a control/option panel to make the theme do all sorts of fancy things. This sometimes results in a fabulous tool for a WordPress Superuser, but from what I’ve seen it usually results in a jumbled mess that is extremely sensitive to the environment in which it’s installed. These developers need to have knowledge of CSS, HTML, PHP, JavaScript, WordPress functions and the Loop, and some MySQL, but what’s usually missing is modular coding expertise and the ability to design for reliability.

These categories are based as much on what you want to do as what you’re able to do. Many developers in categories 5 and 6 could also be functional theme developers, but believe that functionality is better suited to plugins than bundled into a theme. You might be able to tell I’m biased against the last category.

Photo by Sappymoosetree

Did you like this? Take a second to support me on Patreon!