Over the last 15 years, I’ve built many websites in my role as a WordPress developer.
And I always end up coming back to WordPress as my #1 platform of choice
I’ve used other content management systems such as Craft CMS, Statamic and Ghost
While those are excellent platforms, there’s something about being a WordPress developer that’s pretty unique and special.
I’m not afraid to say it’s got a place in my heart!
Even now in 2023 with so many different content management systems, frameworks and languages to choose from, WordPress stands head and shoulders above the rest.
There’s a good reason it powers at least 450 million websites!
Being a WordPress developer means building with an exceptional platform – it’s strong and solid yet flexible and malleable in surprising ways and has an incredible community behind it.
It’s open source which is, of course, awesome.
It’s easy to find answers to questions and to get informative and entertaining updates via Twitter and other social media.
It’s got everything I could ask for in a development package, honestly.
It’s not without its flaws, of course. No platform is. But throughout all the years I’ve been working with it I’ve found literally zero issues which were insurmountable. Not one.
I always recommend WordPress to clients who are looking for a tool that will let them manage their content on a granular level.
It lets them dig deep into their content strategies and allows them to express themselves and their business goals clearly and concisely.
Also, not only is it an extremely capable system in its own right – it also has a huge external plugin library (more than 55,000 free plugins the last time I checked)
These plugins allows the core WordPress code to be customised and extended as required so you’re not restricted to what comes out-of-the-box.
There’s literally a world of potential to deliver on expectations as a WordPress developer.
WordPress comes bundled with a powerful page editing system known as Gutenberg.
On its own, Gutenberg provides a lot of powerful editorial functions for WordPress developers, but it doesn’t handle everything.
For anything more complicated than article layout and formatting, I’d turn to either hand-coding a template or using a page builder such as Elementor.
The page you’re reading right now has been built with Elementor, though the content itself is populated via the Gutenberg block editor.
I find that the power of Elementor is best suited to creating stunning, fluid full page layouts, while Gutenberg, with its more relaxed, scaffold-like interface provides a much cleaner and more nimble editing environment for writers keen to enjoy a distraction-free experience.
Elementor is available as either a limited free package, or a Pro license from $59/yr
Advanced Custom Fields is an absolutely essential plugin for a WordPress developer.
I’m using it on this page, right here, to build out different sections, giving each section its own unique content management functionality.
It’s a really foundational, extremely powerful plugin that brings a whole new dimension to WordPress’ data management capabilities.
An absolute must-have.
Advanced Custom Fields also integrates nicely with Elementor, allowing custom fields to be embedded anywhere within intricate, detailed layouts.
Advanced Custom Fields is available in either free flavour, or the more delicious Pro flavour from $49/yr
Another plugin that WordPress developers shouldn’t ignore, Gravity Forms brings the power of highly customisable drag-and-drop forms to the WordPress interface.
You can build any form you can imagine with Gravity Forms, incorporating elements such as date fields, number range inputs, financial calculators, address lookups and many, many more.
Gravity Forms also offers, via paid subscription tiers, access to even more powerful tegrations such as Stripe checkout fields, HubSpot CRM functionality and Google Analytics, to track form submission statistics, though some of these are only available with the more expensive licenses.
I use it on almost every project and it’s almost like a core WordPress feature to me now.
Wherever a client needs something more complex than a simple contact form, I’ll turn to Gravity Forms
(And for simple contact forms, I’d highly recommend the plugin Contact Form 7 – it does a great job at basic name/email forms, and it’s free!)
Gravity Forms is available as a licensed plugin from $59/yr
Yoast is one of the most widely known WordPress plugins, and has rightfully earned its place in the spotlight amongst clients and WordPress developers.
Anyone who works in Search Engine Optimisation will recognise the name instantly.
This comprehensive tool empowers users to optimize their website for search engines, thereby increasing visibility and driving more organic traffic.
As soon as it’s installed, Yoast will be working to optimise your SEO. The plugin includes:
It’s an all-round fantastic plugin, and one that I install on every client site I build in my role as a WordPress developer.
Yoast is available as a premium package for $99/yr. A free offering is also available
Redirecting visitors to other pages is unavoidable if you are changing your site page’s URLs on a regular basis or if you wish to perform an overhaul of your site’s content.
Managing SEO and ensuring that client’s search results are maintained and strengthened is a vital task for any WordPress developer.
Making sure to retain your ranking in search engine results is vital and a plugin like Redirection makes that process a lot more straightforward.
You can either manually specify URLs to redirect from/to through a clear and intuitive interface to control redirection rules or you can allow the plugin to automatically create redirects for you whenever you update a post or page’s URL structure.
This allows search engines to understand that you’ve made that change and that the new URL should be served in place of the old.
The Redirection plugin for WordPress is, arguably, one of the most important plugins to have installed if you are in any way SEO-minded.
It’ll give you peace of mind that your site’s redirection rules are being maintained and that any content you add or update is treated accordingly.
I absolutely, positively always make sure this is installed on any site I build.
If anything, it’s a real lifesaver if anyone makes a change to a post or page that might otherwise end up with it falling off the search rankings!
Redirection is available as a free plugin from the WordPress plugin repository.
WordPress’ plugin system is powerful – It’s hard to overstate quite how powerful it really is.
But it wouldn’t be possible if it not for WordPress’ feature-packed and extendable core code.
Thanks to the way WordPress’ internal core functionality is built, plugins can hook into vital core functionality via the use of actions and filters.
This might sound simple, but these two concepts together act to provide plugin and theme developers with a significant amount of leverage over a WordPress installation and how it operates.
It gives WordPress developers the ability to turn the platform into whatever they want.
These clever features ensure that plugins have access to the same powerful functions that keep WordPress itself running.
Instead of having to change how WordPress works internally – modifying core code is a practice that would leave websites prone to breaking whenever major updates are released – plugins can attach functions which are executed at the same time as the equivalent core functions.
For example, an action hook can be created which allows a plugin to modify a post’s content after it is saved within the WordPress core.
Or a plugin such as Gravity Forms can add an action hook to update a user’s account details whenever they submit a specific form.
Extremely powerful plugins offering event booking or tiered subscription memberships are built through the use of these hooks.
Plugins can take advantage of, to name a few:
There’s a very good chance that if you can see something happening in WordPress, you can add a hook to it and extend that functionality in whichever way you’d like.
There’s a lot to cover here though, a lot more than I could detail in this short summary. If you’d like to know more, check out the WordPress documentation on the subject.
Or get in touch if you’d like to know more about plugin development.
Bespoke plugins can be created for commercial or personal use and there’s significant scope for interesting new ideas to benefit yourself, your company or the WordPress developer ecosystem.
Soemtimes a page builder like Elementor on its own isn’t enough.
Custom WordPress design services often make use of various techniques to deliver the finished results. These might include:
Depending on how the designs have been provided – perhaps via design services like Figma or Invision or perhaps even exported directly from a page builder tool like Webflow, a process of converting those designs into a working template will take place.
WordPress, at a core level, makes use of a flexible template hierarchy which tells the internal code how to convert URLs into a specific page.
For example, you might have a URL, https://mysite.com/blog/category/news-updates. WordPress will:
category-news-updates.php, if not…
category-123.php, if it doesn’t find that…
category.php – the generic category template page. If that’s not found…
archive.php will be loaded. And if that’s not available…
index.php template file is loaded
Using this approach, WordPress developers can build varied and extremely powerful site structures.
The above approach doesn’t just work for categories, but also blog posts, articles, author biography pages as well as custom post types
WordPress developers can build all sorts of complex website structures by making use of WordPress’ powerful internal template architecture.
You’re not just restricted to a standard approach which page builders can sometimes encourage.
You can feel free to explore, innovate and experiment with whatever your imagination can conjure up.
This might be desireable if:
You can also make use of a powerful feature of WordPress known as “Custom Post Types“.
Using the custom post type system means you can define new types of data, outside the default post and page types which WordPress offers by default.
Adding this extra layer of flexibility on top of the existing WordPress template hierarchy and plugin system means there’s almost unlimited scope for building extremely useful and engaging websites for your own personal use, your business, your customers – whoever you want to build for, the tools are there.
There are many reasons why a WordPress developer might choose to build a template from scratch using code and a suitable code editor:
There’s benefits and drawbacks to both approaches, though both can be utilised to build extremely powerful and engaging websites. It all comes down to the needs and wishes of your customers or stakeholders. Whatever you’re looking for, we can figure out the best approach and take it from there.
Robin is the dedicated developer behind Solarise.dev. With years of experience in web development, he's committed to delivering high-quality solutions and ensuring websites run smoothly. Always eager to learn and adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape, Robin believes in the power of collaboration and sharing knowledge. Outside of coding, he enjoys diving into tech news and exploring new tools in the industry.
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