Last week I gave not one but two talks on WordPress for nonprofits. At the first, Mike Brogan and I talked about what it takes to keep a WordPress site going after you’ve launched it. We presented it as part of the 501 Commons Technology Brown Bag series and it was great to share that information with 25-30 people! I’ve posted the slides from that talk at the end of this post.
The next talk was two days later with Scott Marlow at the May 2014 SeaTech4Good meetup. At this meetup, we discussed the advantages of WordPress as compared to other CMSes and gave some tips for getting started with WordPress.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, there was a common thread that arose in both talks. As you might guess from the title, it was this: Talk to a developer!
It’s a Jungle Out There
WordPress sites are relatively easy to setup, but things break, features get more complicated, and sooner or later, a site owner needs help. The flip side of “things break,” is that certain things break less and a good developer can help you make good decisions before you run into problems.
This tweet during the event offered one good reason:
— Seattle Tech4Good (@SeaTech4Good) May 16, 2014
Just on WordPress.org, there are 2,500+ themes and 30.000+ plugins. There are others all across the web. While WordPress.org puts up some low barriers to try to ensure quality, you can bet that most of those themes and plugins aren’t up to snuff. There are entire WordPress theme “marketplaces” that I refuse to buy from due to multiple past bad experiences. What’s more, most of those bad experiences were helping people who had picked a theme and plugins before coming to me. I wonder how much time, money, and pulled-out hair we could have saved if they found me or some other WordPress developer earlier?
Web development can indeed be expensive, but many developers are happy to offer a few quick pointers and links or craft a small project to fit whatever budget you have. Even if you can’t afford to pay much now, find a developer who can help you a bit now and be on call in the future.
If you look at the Services page of my site, you’ll see a lot of technical skills. I know Photoshop and Illustrator. I write code in PHP and CSS. I use weird-sounding programs like XAMPP and Filezilla. ((Filezilla, unlike Godzilla, has remained roughly the same size over its lifetime.)) But a lot of the value I offer my clients is hidden. It’s knowledge of best practices, what themes to use, little gotchas, and common problems. For examples, as I write this, there are 1,337 plugins related to “SEO” ((SEO is “Search Engine Optimization” if you’re not familiar with the acronym. It’s the process of making your site rank well in search result pages.)), yet there’s only one I would use, and it’s served me well for years.
So one way or another, talk to a developer! You—and the developer you hire in the future—will thank you.
As promised, here are the slides from the Brown Bag talk.