I wanted to put this post together to do a little ranting and theorizing on “legitimate” WordPress design/development, “WordPress implementing”, the expectations that have stemmed from all of the various WordPress products that make creating websites with WordPress relatively simple, and the impact all of these things have on the perception and value of WordPress service providers (and WordPress in general). There have been a few recent posts that also offer great perspectives on these ideas. Two of these posts actually came out on the same day I wrote this post. I encourage you to check them out and read their comments.
- On WordPress Talent Shortage – Mario Peshev
- Envato Continues to Rake in the Cash from WordPress Themes Packaged as Complete Website Solutions – WP Tavern
- The WordPress Talent Shortage Might be a Pricing Problem – Andy Adams
- UPDATE: More good reading on similar stuff: The $15 WordPress Gig
Before starting, I want to make clear that I do not intend to come off as arrogant or rude with what I write…just trying to be honest and call things the way I see them. These are my thoughts based on my own experiences as a WordPress service provider.
Legitimate WordPress Development
WordPress development is, in my simple opinion, the ability to take a WordPress installation and customize it with a combination of existing tools (no, the wheel does not need to be reinvented just because you’re a developer) and custom code written from scratch to fit most (if not all) of the requirements of the site. Development is much more than installing WordPress and uploading a theme. If there’s a need, a WordPress developer can typically find a solution and is comfortable writing the code necessary to produce it if need be. This doesn’t mean that developers can do everything, never have to search Google for assistance or ask peers for help, but they can, by current knowledge or through research, write their own code to do a lot. Developers control and shape WordPress to fit their needs.
Legitimate developers are people you see creating awesome WordPress plugins and themes, contributing to WordPress core, providing awesome code support in discussion forums like Stack Exchange, writing quality tutorials on how to do cool things, etc.
WordPress Developers vs. WordPress Implementers
If you haven’t heard the term “WordPress implementer” before, let me explain. I heard the phrase a while back (I’d provide a link to where but, unfortunately, I can’t remember where I saw it) and it’s pretty straightforward. A WordPress implementer is someone who does not actually develop with WordPress but rather sets it up, installs a theme and various plugins and configures these things within their given limits. A WordPress implementer, depending on their experience, may also know some HTML/CSS and might be comfortable with copying and pasting code snippets into a functions.php file (albeit with little to no understanding of what it’s actually doing).
The main difference between a WordPress developer and an implementer is that the implementer is not capable of creating in the same way as a developer. While the developer can put together custom code to come up with a solution that does not yet exist in the community, an implementer cannot.
Determining whether you fall into the implementer or developer category, you can ask yourself: 1.) Am I comfortable navigating the WordPress Codex to reference WordPress code and using it in my own way to create something? 2.) Am I able to grasp and make use of more advanced WordPress and PHP features? 3.) Do I know how to set up local/staging environments for debugging/development purposes?
Those three questions are general basics of actual development. They certainly do not comprise a comprehensive list of what a developer can do but they are to serve as a very basic checklist to see where you likely fall if you are not certain (i.e. impostor syndrome). If you do these things with relative ease, you’d probably fall in the developer category. If you answered no to them but you can still create WordPress websites, you are an implementer. If you can’t do these things and have very little to no WordPress experience and knowledge of anything to do with WordPress but are still selling WP services, well, you’re pretty much a fraud (I won’t be discussing this type of individual to any extent in this post).
So is a developer a better person than an implementer? Of course not. Are both honest developers and implementers better professionals than frauds? I’d certainly say so. A developer just has a higher skill-set than an implementer and is more likely to begin writing some code as a solution before trying to piece together existing tools for a less exact solution. The point in comparing the two is to highlight the current state of “WordPress services” and how seemingly identical services can differ to a great extent. Before I get into this, I want to quickly mention the tools that enable a WordPress implementer to be a player in the WordPress services game.
As I mentioned before, a typical WordPress implementer relies heavily on existing plugins and themes to do what they do. Tools like Visual Composer, Beaver Builder, Divi, Headway and many other visually based drag-and-drop builders have made it possible to build nice, complex websites without needing to know any code. While there are developers who use these tools as a means to expedite certain projects or to provide clients with specific abilities, an implementer is going to rely on these tools to be able to even provide a service in the first place.
On the other hand, developer-centric utilities like _s (underscores) and the Genesis Framework are things a developer will typically reach for when building a client website because they offer a much greater deal of flexibility. However, they do require some degree of comfort with PHP code.
WordPress Services, Providers and Perceptions
Now that I’ve laid all that out there, I want to discuss the real point of this post: the way WordPress professionals and services are often perceived because of cheap tools and vastly different service providers.
To start off, let’s consider a soon-to-be WordPress user named Dan who is considering three options to build a website for his photography business: hire “Developer A”, hire “Developer Z” or built it himself. For Dan’s website, he’ll need a modern/elegant design, an easy way to showcase his work, some information on his services, a way to contact him and maybe a system for selling some prints he has available for sale. Nothing too crazy here! Now let’s look at his options more closely.
After receiving quotes from a couple agencies to develop his website, Dan said the agency route was more than he wanted to spend so he reached out to a freelancer who seemed to know his stuff. Developer A has a blog full of useful resources, a cool looking website, a few products available to the public and a portfolio of nice work. Developer A asks important questions and wants to take the time to get to know Dan’s business and goals. After discussing some initial ideas, Developer A quotes a fee of $4,000 for a full setup, custom design with photography portfolio and e-commerce support (includes getting SSL in place and proper security measures). Additionally, Developer A estimates 4-6 weeks for development.
While not as expensive as the agencies, Developer A is still “expensive” so Dan contacts another freelancer, Developer Z. Developer Z doesn’t have as much of a public profile as Developer A but still has a nice website so Dan sends a message asking for a quote. Much to his surprise, Dan gets a message back from Developer Z, who says he can build the website for $800 and have it done within 2 weeks.
Now that Dan has quotes from two different developers, he obviously sees that the first developer’s quote is five times costlier than the second. At this time, he’s thinking “What the hell is up with the price difference and why is the first guy charging me $4,000 when the second guy can do the same thing for $800 AND have it done quicker?”
After a bit more thinking and researching, Dan finds a website called Themeforest where he sees a bunch of WordPress themes that look awesome, include what he needs and essentially claim to be a total solution for him. On top of that, most of them don’t exceed $65! Now he’s wondering why he’s even being quoted $800 when a design can be purchased for $65.
At this point, Dan thinks that Developer A is smoking some quality shit and loses all interest in hiring him for the ridiculous price of $4,000. Now the choice is between Developer Z and saving some cash by purchasing that theme from Themeforest and doing it himself. What to do?
In this fictitious story, we will say that, in an effort to save money, Dan decides to first take a shot at doing his website on his own with the theme he likes from Themeforest. He goes and buys the theme, manages to get WordPress installed and, after a couple days waiting to hear back on the support request he submitted to the theme developer, gets the theme uploaded (he was unknowingly uploading a zip file that contained documentation and demo files in addition to the actual theme). After that, he notices that the design doesn’t look like it did in the demo that he fell in love with. After messing around in the theme settings for a couple more days, he submits yet another support ticket to the developer only to receive a lousy, unhelpful answer four days later. Finally, he gets so pissed that he throws in the towel and goes back to Developer Z to sign up for the $800 deal.
Proceeding with Developer Z, Dan submits payment and Developer Z gets to work. A week later, Z gets back with Dan and shows him a website that still needs to be filled in with content. No problem. Now Dan just needs to get him content so he types up what he wants on his pages and sends it over along with some images he wants to use. Z plugs it all in and reports back to Dan that the site is almost finished. A few products are added to the site using WooCommerce and, a couple days later, Z tells Dan the site is done, hands over passwords and says to contact him if needed.
Dan’s pretty satisfied with the time it took to finish the site (he’s also fortunate that Developer Z didn’t flake out and disappear before delivering a finished product). He takes a look at his new website and is more satisfied than not with the overall look. Finally, he logs in to the WordPress dashboard and sees a ton of menu items on the side. The appearance of the backend looks to have a lot more going on than before.
After a few days, he’s been able to spend time looking through everything and getting familiar with the setup. He discovers the various plugins installed on the site, changes some settings and, afterwards, notices something on the front end no longer works. Promptly, he sends Developer Z a message, doesn’t hear back after a few days, sends another email, still doesn’t hear back, sends yet another (and noticeably aggravated) email, still doesn’t hear back and, finally, sits there feeling lost and screwed over. Little does he know that the reason Z never responded was because Z doesn’t know how to fix what Dan was talking about and he wouldn’t even know where to begin. Therefore, he just avoids it and hopes Dan will either give up or fix it on his own. In reality, Z was never qualified to accept the job to begin with because his experience and knowledge of WordPress was very limited.
Dan’s frustration has now led him to start thinking that WordPress is garbage and that developers are scammers who build crap websites and disappear. After coming to terms with the likelihood that he won’t be hearing back from Z, he manages to feel somewhat grateful that at least he didn’t spend $4,000. Since he’s basically stuck with this site, he decides to start posting help questions in any free forum he can find in attempts to fix things on his own because he can neither afford nor wants to hire another developer. His forum posts often include statements along the lines of “I was burned by my previous developer” or “My last developer disappeared”. In general, he comes off as feeling entitled to detailed help because he was burned in the past and, even if subconsciously, this is pretty much his sentiment exactly.
Moving forwards, maybe Dan will decide to contact another developer but, if so, he plans to make it clear that he was screwed over by his last hire and is hoping to get some help at a discounted rate. Perhaps he even has some possible “referrals” in exchange for a better rate (he really doesn’t but an unsuspecting developer won’t know that). Either way, his only concern is getting his needs taken care of for as little as possible.
Does this sound familiar to you, WordPress pros? If you’ve been doing client work for a while or helping out on forums, it likely does. I’ve heard it many times from clients (paid and potential) and people on discussion forums. I enjoy helping out on the StudioPress forums when I have time but I admit that, for me, this is the most annoying part of doing so. In fact, I often just leave the forums because I get aggravated with people’s posts and don’t feel like contributing. I know this might make me sound like an ass but, truthfully, I don’t really want to volunteer my time to help someone (for free) complete a client’s website when that person is getting paid to do a job they aren’t qualified for.
Pulling Everything Together
So far, I’ve discussed legitimate WordPress development, WordPress implementers, tools that enable WordPress implementers to do their work and the fictitious, unfortunate experience of our example WordPress user, Dan. Now comes the time for me to bring all of these things together and present my primary argument: WordPress services have become far less valuable and often negatively perceived because of an (over)abundance of WordPress themes and plugins (many of them low in quality) that make simple WordPress implementation a relatively easy task for anyone, thus causing an overflowing pool of people with no experience or skill who begin offering WordPress services. When given the options of an “expensive” developer, a “cheap” implementer and the DIY approach, most people will choose one of the two latter options and, as a result, the overall value of true WordPress professionals decreases. This problem boils down to three main ingredients:
- Relatively inexpensive plugins and themes make it possible to get a website up and running for very little upfront cost.
- People begin to use these tools to build a website of their own or for a friend/family-member and pick up a false sense of ability that encourages them to offer “web design/development” services for cheap. After all, WordPress is easy to use so it must be easy money, right?? Just buy a cheap theme, install it with some free plugins and charge a few hundred bucks. Easy as cake!
- $4,000 vs $800 is a serious difference and one of the most common types of WordPress users (individuals pursuing a business idea on a budget) flat out will not want to invest that kind of money ($4,000) when a $800 “developer” is available or a $60 theme that claims to handle everything for them.
That said, WordPress services from qualified developers that range in the thousands become services targeted at a much smaller group of potential buyers.
Let me make this clear: I do not think all WordPress implementers are doing a disservice to the WordPress world and I am not making some sweeping statement that blames plugins and themes for having a negative impact on the value of WordPress services. WordPress would not be what it is today without these assets and the developers who create them. They have contributed significantly to building an entire ecosystem that enables many people such as myself to make a living doing what they enjoy. Given WordPress’s immense popularity, WordPress implementers do offer a service of value if they have enough experience and knowledge to bring to the table. However, confusion and disservice arises from people who honestly have no business selling WordPress services to clients and from not drawing a clear line between actual WordPress development and WordPress implementation. All of this together teams up to produce a negative impact on the perceived value and reputation of WordPress service providers and WordPress itself (Dan thinking that WordPress “developers” are shady operators).
To remedy this, I would argue that we, as WordPress service providers, need to be transparent about what exactly we offer our clients in terms of expertise. Doing this will benefit both us and the clients and also improve the standing of WordPress service providers in general. Our clients will know before-hand whether we have the ability to deliver the product they need, those providing a service will not need to “disappear” when faced with the reality of hitting their technical-limits with a client, and other WordPress professionals will not have to deal with as many people thinking less of their value because of bad work done elsewhere.
If you are an implementer who will be installing and configuring pre-made themes and plugins, make that clear. People who need that service and nothing more will still hire you. If you’re a designer who only designs, admit that you don’t write the code. Personally, I am a developer who has experience with an array (pun intended) of WordPress tools and practices, such as the Genesis Framework, WooCommerce, writing plugins, and many others. I do not have the experience or know-how to build, for example, custom backends with integration for your third-party, enterprise-level software. Today, there are plenty of things I cannot do. This not because I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s because I have not yet needed or wanted to do them and, therefore, do not have the experience. In the field of website development, you learn by doing and there’s a lot of things I have not done. I’ve come a long way during my time using WordPress and I intend to do a lot more in the future but, until I know how to do something, I will not market myself as knowing how to or accept payment for doing it. By admitting that and letting those more skilled than I on any particular task do what they do best, I save my potential clients and myself headache, as well as preserve the overall perception of WordPress (or at least I don’t play a part in degrading it).
UPDATE: I should have made an additional point in all this. I do not frown upon anyone saying they can do something that they cannot if they can still make sure that what why claim to be able to do is delivered to the client in a professional manner, such as outsourcing certain work to someone who can do it. As I mentioned in a comment below, a better way of explaining my stance would be to say that service providers should be honest about what can be delivered rather than what one can do individually. If you are a designer but outsource your development work, then telling a client that you can achieve a developmental need of theirs is perfectly fine in my opinion. I just thought this was worth noting.
If you want to make money with WordPress by offering some type of service, that’s great! I hope you succeed and enjoy your time. However, please consider what it will take before throwing yourself out there as a WordPress service provider. Don’t just install WordPress and a theme once or twice and think you’re ready to start taking on clients (please don’t do this). Take the time to learn about WordPress and its nuances before offering services to clients. Honestly evaluate your skill-set to determine what you are capable of taking on. If WordPress is the product from which you hope to make a living, represent it well. Don’t contribute to degrading it.
Very interesting piece Ren, although if I’m being honest, it has left me feeling a bit of an imposter because I can see that I’m very definitely in the implementer camp.
I imagine there will be a few like me: of a certain age and from a design background that just predates the web. I’m very comfortable working in HTML, CSS, jQuery, building responsive sites and using various web tools and platforms – ecommerce, CMS, SEO, PPC, etc – but for whatever reason, despite several attempts to learn it, I’ve never been able to get the hang of PHP. I don’t know whether it’s a left-right brain thing, or that I just don’t use it enough because I spend so much time on the other stuff, but I very quickly reach a barrier and just can’t get past it.
I’ve always built what I would say were highly custom-designed WordPress themes (either by editing a starter theme like _s, or using a basic parent) and my clients have always been happy with the result. But I’ve also known that I’ve had to really scratch around to find the right code snippets to do what I want it to do, and if I was a proper dev, I’d be able to write functions from scratch.
So yes, I would feel like a total fraud if I just bought something off Envato and installed it for a client (though I’ve known of more successful businesses than mine doing just that), but I can also see that I couldn’t in any good conscience call myself a developer.
CJ Andrew says
This is a superb article.
I like it because it outlines the possible roles that website owners are likely to encounter, when looking for help with their sites: developers and implementers.
I agree with the context and gist of the article: 100%. I also agree with your differentiation between WP developers and implementers; but to an extent.
Personally, I would argue that an implementer should be able to do “more” than just setup WordPress, or install plugins and themes within their limitations.
Its difficult to set boundaries without being prescriptive, but I feel that WordPress implementers should be able to code (albeit to a limited extent).
More importantly, they should be able to recognise when a custom solution is called for, and who to direct the client to, for a custom solution (if they’re not offering it themselves).
In my opinion, a WordPress implementer should also be comfortable navigating the Codex, and at least referencing *some* WordPress code.
I agree that they may not necessarily have the strongest grasp on more advanced WordPress and PHP features, but they should totally know as much as is needed to operate local/staging/production environments for all purposes (develop, build, debug, staging, production).
Combined with good project management ability, an implementer should be able to at least manage the client through the entire process of a WordPress site build from start to finish and beyond.
They may not “create” the components, but they should be able to appreciate the usage and relevance of those components.
The main differentiating question in my opinion should be:
“can I create a complex subsystem from scratch, where no solution already exists?”
Yes = developer. No = something else.
Perhaps we should have another classification, then: “WordPress User”.
Having said all that, I get the point of the article, and I’ m in full agreement, although I would say that a developer has a “different” skill set and perspective than an implementer.
Not necessarily a higher, or better one. Just a different one.
There’s definitely a use case and ideal scenario for both roles, and an implementer doesn’t have to be on the low end of the pricing scale. In fact, price should not be a factor in classifying WordPress professionals; rather, perspective and “areas of concern” should be used.
An implementer can and should ask important questions about the business, and “why” they need feature A or B. If the client is looking for a subsystem, then its up to the implementer to discover this, and refer them to a WordPress developer.
This is not a failing on the implementer’s part, but rather it is a result of their ability to match business value with features and requirements.
In my opinion, a WordPress implementer is different from a “WordPress User”, or an “Advanced WordPress User”, which is the persona that I feel your article has classed as “implementer”.
Unfortunately, the customer rarely sees posts like these nor understands all these distinctions.
Instead, they have a fixed set of values and expectations which don’t always align with the real reason why they need a website in the first place.
In many cases. no one takes the time to understand the site owner’s values: whether user, or implementer or developer. The end result is a dissatisfied customer, regardless of whom they engage with. That is the real problem.
WordPress services appear to have become less valuable because of democratisation, and because we have more users than implementers or developers; and everyone is selling services.
But then isn’t this the result of democratised publishing? Is this not a case of “the stutterer leading the dumb”; simply because everyone is allowed to have their say?
I would argue that it is; for better or worse.
With the establishment of theme marketplaces (including WordPress.com/org’s version of this), there will always be the tendency for the uneducated site owner to assume that a pretty layout plus plugins, will bring in sales and convert traffic.
It won’t. We know that.
Even the users that are selling WordPress services in marketplaces know that.
The only people being misled are the business/website owners who are only trying to protect their bottomline; hence they will go for the cheaper option. Always.
Educating site owners helps to a degree, but in the end, unless a business can see a tangible connection between a developer’s or implementer’s offer and their core goals, the “WordPress User” (or the business owner’s cousin) will always win on price.
Of course, this is the high road to disappointment (as your article clearly points out).
I agree that transparency is important. Critical actually. However, this can be hard to do when faced with competition from every angle. In many cases, technical-limits are not factored into pricing; afterall, “the work can be outsourced”.
Not the best alternative, but one that is frequently used.
In summary, I think a lot of WordPress users underestimate what it takes to grow into being a real WordPress professional.
They would not think of doing the same thing with Java or C#, but WordPress is democratised publishing, so it must be ok.. Actually, it isnt ok.
Skill-set evaluation is very important as you pointed out, but how many WordPress users actually take the time to do this, before setting up shingle and service?
Hey, CJ. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
There are definitely varying levels of skill and experience and I like your idea of “regular users” and “advanced users” being a part of this debate. Labeling the different skill levels and drawing the distinctions is what’s difficult. I also think you make a good point regarding the democratization of publishing and how it relates to all of this. WordPress has indeed democratized publishing in a great way but I would agree that extending the ability to “publish” has led to a false sense of ability to “build”, “develop”, etc.
This is unfortunate but very true. WordPress services have, in the minds of a very large portion of WordPress users, become a commodity that can be found anywhere and, as a result, cheapest often wins. That’s why I always prefer to work with clients who don’t know what WordPress even is. It’s much easier to teach someone how to use WordPress than to teach someone who already knows WordPress how to see and appreciate the difference between a quality solution and a $60 do-it-all theme.
CJ Andrew says
Thanks for your reply, Ren.
Yes, I agree that democratisation of publishing (by WordPress) has encouraged commoditisation of same.
Some WordPress users don’t even realise that a WP site runs on HTML, CSS, PHP, and other technologies. Then there are those at the other end of the spectrum, who equate PHP knowledge with WordPress knowledge. Both extremes are dangerous.
I like your approach of working with clients who don’t necessarily know or use WordPress themselves; and there’s quite a few of such businesses/website owners around. That’s a very good approach, and worth emulating.
Its all about solving a business problem, rather than hawking a technology; and this is something that commoditised WordPress services cannot compete with.
True, but non-commoditized WordPress-related services can still do WordPress badly. Quality does not necessarily flow more from a particular business model or pricing strategy. It may be better at playing to strengths and covering weaknesses. It may be more likely to be “good enough,” and more likely to improve over time or address problems that arise because higher prices increase capacity and support growth. Someone who competes on price maybe be quite capable but only in one or two areas and then struggle to keep projects from becoming more work than they are worth. It’s probably a common entry point and learning experience. Those who survive it ought to learn and become wiser.
There must be degrees within the terms, there will be more skilled Implementers and less skilled Developers.
The truth is, some people are very confident when they value their skills, and will call themselves Developers, when they in fact are Inplementers, and vice versa.
I would be a Developer if I use the criteria from this article, but then I would be in the same liga as ex. Tom McFarlin, but I’m not, he’s miles ahead.
So in the end it comes down to the person behind, how does she/he value themselvses.
I agree that there are varying levels of both implementers and developers but I believe there is a specific line that is crossed when one becomes more of a developer than an implementer. While there are a lot (a ton, really) of developers who are not on the same level as Tom McFarlin, Pippin Williamson, etc., that doesn’t mean they aren’t developers. It means that those guys are top-notch.
My criteria for a developer is, like I mentioned, not comprehensive or “official” by any means but I don’t think many people would argue that a developer has the knowledge to create things by writing their own code, follow good practices, debug code, and other basic things that an implementer cannot do. That’s where the line is drawn between the two. Is there much of a difference between a very skilled implementer and a very unskilled developer? Probably not. My belief would be that an unskilled developer (though an implementer with a very solid understanding of WordPress from a front-facing perspective) would be more of an implementer if they’ve only just begun writing code and their code presents more bugs than solutions. The difference here would be the “developer” has started to write code while the implementer hasn’t. Simply attempting to write code doesn’t constitute development.
Dan Knauss (@newlocalmedia) says
It’s not hard to differentiate yourself from the bottom and from any reputational stain on WP if you are primarily selling yourself and your services.
You’ve described a very specific, bottom of the market scenario that seems worthy of no attention if you set a clear price floor that is well above it. If you do that then the people who get burned on the bottom but have the budget to pay for quality will be driven to you while the rest end up with an inexpensive hosted service like wordpress.com or one of its competitors.
I think what may be more of a “real problem” is specific to the middle end of the market where the developer/implementer distinction breaks down, especially if you define it vaguely and narrowly.
There are people (especially those whose main skills are design, content and/or front end oriented) who often (or mainly) do implementation, yet they could still fit your definition of a “developer.” There are agencies that mainly do implementation with few or no developers on staff; like many freelance designers they may outsource their “developer” needs. They may or may not use “builder” themes or ThemeForest material, but if they do the choice may actually be aimed at meeting a customer’s needs and project constraints. It may even be justified if you know the full picture. It may be a reasonable judgment call that produces a “good enough” solution that doesn’t explode but pleases the client.
Any of these scenarios can be good, good enough, not so good, and even terrible; it depends largely on how well the people responsible for the work shift and adapt to particular projects, how they price them, and a lot of other non-technical or not wholly technical decisions. The people responsible for the work may even have great developer creds but still set up customers on crappy hosting or create their own crappy hosting with an overstuffed VPS or dedicated server they fail to manage properly even if they are paying for it to be “managed.” They may have built everything right a year ago — except they never thought out or put in place an adequate set of technical and customer service processes to manage the software and human dependencies they created. Those are the kinds of scenarios that are more relevant to the markets that matter and perhaps the WP brand as well.
I agree. Explaining to clients and getting them to understand the difference is something that every quality service provider has done. This isn’t really the hard part.
This may be a specific scenario but it’s something that is seen very frequently, along with many scenarios similar to it. Almost every one who has commented on this post, the authors of the ones I linked to and many more have experienced this type of scenario or ones similar. Mario, in a few of his recent articles (the one I linked to and this one), touches on his own related experiences.
I think a lot also comes down to a potential client’s experience with WordPress. If they’ve learned a bit about it, have grown familiar with the prices, etc., this type of client is going to expect more for less than clients who hire a developer to build them a website and neither care nor know about the technology. My favorite clients have been of this type because I’m hired to do what they need me to do and they appreciate my service enough to pay me the amount I charge.
It’s unfortunate that a skilled professional’s value may come down to the client simply knowing about the market but I think that’s just reality. As I mentioned above, explaining the difference between yourself and alternative (cheaper) solutions isn’t the hard part. The hard part is convincing the client that the difference is worth the drastically larger price or finding clients who are already willing to spend the difference. Given the sea of WordPress developers, neither of these is a simple task.
Dan Knauss (@newlocalmedia) says
If you can easily differentiate yourself, why do you care about “Developer Z” so much? To whom is he a problem, other than his own business and clients, both of which seem likely to disappear quickly with perhaps something learned in the process?
As you can see in my replies to Mario in the past, I think the idea that there are legions of Developer Zs out there making the world more horrible is largely a misperception and a rather myopic one too, but to the extent that he is real I would say education and engagement with his own sense of self-interest is a better way to go.
The developer/implementor distinction fails on several levels. There are not two such clearly defined types of people, and both are terrible marketing terms. “Implementation” is ultimately what every customer wants and understands; selling yourself on your technical creds as a developer or originality as a designer is selling a means to and end in a language the client doesn’t understand or value most of the time. Even if they do, their priority is getting some kind of business solution, for lack of a better non-corporate jargon.
Do you really expect anyone to follow your advice and market themselves as not this, not that? Are you willing to follow it yourself? What about developers who are good with PHP but weak on JS (or the reverse), developers who are not designers, not sysadmins, not good with content or marketing strategy and development, etc.?
The Genesis Framework Developer & Designer Survey 2014 Results just came out today. This survey, the way it was set up, basically assumed that everyone who responded (surprisingly only 202 people out of the total Genesis customer base) is a “developer and [or?] designer,” but there is really nothing in the survey about “development” work as you define it. Instead you see a prevalence of solo and/or part-time freelancers focused on theme “design/development” and a lot of other (not really “developer”) things.
Is this bad? I don’t think so, because it’s Genesis and most of the respondents are using pretty good to superior hosting, which says a lot. High touch customer-centric work like training also comes up big in the work they do, and they are paid very well on average. If there is one thing to pick on from a developer perspective it’s that a lot of these folks are using old-ish Genesis child themes, and if you were to dig into how they’re managing upgrades, dependencies, and other life-cycle issues with their client’s sites you’d probably find less than ideal scenarios that pretty much everyone has.
I am sure you could do a similar poll based around a TF theme so many of us love to hate and find much lower pay, much less client-focused support service, and much worse hosting — but we’d have to actually do that kind of a survey to find out how much of that is going on, and I don’t think it would necessarily be all that awful in the picture it would paint. I don’t think the majority would be your “Developer Z.” Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d like to see the proof so we know.
It seems unlikely Developer Z businesses will last long at all unless they please their customers well enough and charge high enough rates in which case they probably succeeding as many freelancers and small teams always have — not by “faking it until they make it,” but by prioritizing their bottom line, their customer, and finding adequate ways to compensate for their weaknesses. Many successful firms have started that way, coming from a design/content/marketing emphasis and outsourcing application development and server tech with results no one specialized in those areas would really smile at. The result? A new market: http://www.forbes.com/sites/benkepes/2015/02/19/website-management-platform-pantheon-focuses-on-the-agency-opportunity/
I personally don’t care what anyone else does but to answer your question about who Z could be a problem for, I believe I pointed this out in my post…his clients directly and a lot of people in an indirect way by contributing to a negative image for WordPress professionals. Whether or not you agree with that is your decision. The reason I included the example is because it exists and frequently at that. I don’t know how you or any else sees the market in which they work but this is how I’ve seen the WordPress market for quite some time and I think more people than not would agree with me. If this was not a significant occurrence in the industry, I would not have multiple, well-known professionals agreeing with this post.
First, I don’t believe I ever told anyone how to market themselves. I never discussed marketing at all other than stating that I wouldn’t market myself as knowing how to do something I didn’t, which was just an expression. My point was regarding honesty about one’s own ability. Therefore, I can’t answer your question on whether I believe people should “follow my advice on marketing themselves” because I never gave that kind of advice. If you’re asking based on what I did say (whether I believe people should not deceive clients by claiming to know how to do something they don’t), then yes, I do. It’s not really advice either, it’s common business principle to not deceive customers. However, if you say you can do something that you can’t but have a way of outsourcing it so that it gets done, well, that’s a different story because the result will be positive for the client.
Next, going off of that last sentence, I guess I should have worded my argument in this regard a bit differently. I’m not against someone saying they can do something they personally cannot if that person has a way of delivering it anyway (i.e. outsourcing). My disagreement is with anyone taking on something they cannot do and trying to figure it out as they go. Given that, I think “not lying about what one can deliver” would likely be a better way to explain what I was saying and I’ll update the post to convey that.
Regarding the developer-implementor comparison, I’m well aware that things are not that black and white and I’ve said in other comments that there are certainly varying levels of expertise. This is also not a concept I came up with myself. It already existed because many people in the WordPress industry have observed this difference (people providing services who cannot develop vs. those who can develop); I just used it in my example. You can define your own distinctions but the term “implementer” is simply one that is used to describe someone who is not a developer in the typical sense. Getting into different technical specialties and the various extents of expertise is not what I was trying to do.
Lastly, I don’t think the term “implementer” was ever intended to be used as a marketing term and I’m not claiming it should be used as one. Titles can have different meanings to different people. I’m not a marketing person and I think a lot of marketing philosophies are nonsense. My marketing idea is to do as much as I can to be helpful and make sense to a non-expert. If my title makes sense to this person, I’m not too worried about it.
Dan Knauss (@newlocalmedia) says
I think you have a couple WordPress developers agreeing with you, or more accurately, sharing a sentiment that an as yet imaginary villain is to blame for their perceived difficulty in finding clients who will pay them $100/hr and respect them as much as Drupal developers. I suspect this may have something to do with developers also discovering AWP on Facebook recently or anything else that stokes their chronic fear of an “invasion of the lightweights.”
Mario has made some good points, and the “WP developer” perspective is important, but it’s at its worst when it falls into thinking about value in terms of commoditized skills and work product. Brian Krogsgard seems to be recognizing that over here: https://poststatus.com/notes/commoditized-state-web-design/
I read your last paragraph before the “update” as a directive that basically says how people should market themselves, not a directive to liars not to lie. E.g., “If you’re a designer who only designs, admit that you don’t write the code.” That’s an imperative statement you have no hope of enforcing with people who probably don’t exist in any meaningful number. They won’t read this, or won’t understand its relevance to them, or they will feel insulted and ignore you. People who are deliberately misrepresenting themselves are even less reachable.
Truly in 14 years of working with popular CMS applications I have not run across a client — even one who is fleeing from a ThemeForest failure — who thinks their “designer” created WordPress. (I have seen agencies who think Automattic creates WordPress.) I have not witnessed decent designers using WP who can’t code in HTML/CSS. (We’ve all seen decent developers who almost can’t, or whose visual results are ugly.) But let’s assume the completely code illiterate implementor does exist and represents himself as an “implementer.” I still can’t imagine when it would ever be sensible for him to try to explain the provenance of the major parts of the total system he built outside of some documentation or other communication with their client relative to maintenance. That’s an important communication that probably does not happen as much as it should even among good designers, developers, and designer-developers — not “I can’t do this, but not that” but “I did this and not that; here’s how it impacts upgrades and other maintenance issues.” This isn’t something that necessarily happens or fails to happen because of one’s coding capabilities, role, or title.
Sorry for not getting back on this last comment earlier.
With due respect, I find this comment to be extremely arrogant. I’m not blaming anyone else for my own business (I’m not even complaining) and I don’t think others who agree with me are either. I also find it offensive that you think anyone who agrees with this post is less respectable than Drupal professionals. Perhaps Mario and Rebecca Gill (two well-known WordPress professionals who agree) may take issue with that as well. I’m discussing what I’ve seen to be a very common occurrence in the WordPress market (an over-demand for cheap) and why I believe it occurs. While you may have never experienced the type of service provider I alluded to, I assure you it is not imaginary; it’s relatively widespread. When I wrote this post, I did so based on my experience, which has been obtained through real client work and things like writing free tutorials, offering a couple small plugins on WordPress.org, helping out on discussion forums, researching trends for WordPress work on Elance, and even reading about other peoples’ experience. I’ve seen this person many times, first-hand. I even get regular inquiries from people who are doing client work but cannot perform essential functions that should be expected of anyone doing client work.
I’ll give you a very recent example. Just the other day, I had someone email me requesting help with a tutorial I wrote. This person was “helping a friend” build a website. Now, I’ve come to equate this verbiage to “I’m asking you for free help but I don’t want you to know that I’m actually getting paid for what I don’t know how to do,” because I’ve seen these peoples’ websites and they offer services; I doubt the first time they contact me is regarding a pro-bono job for a friend. This person was running some of my code to execute a custom loop and was trying to modify it to add a couple classes to the posts to achieve a grid layout, which is what they could not do. For me or some other qualified professional such as yourself, this is a simple task that would take just a few minutes to complete. Before even mentioning the financial aspect of providing the service, this person was very quick to reply to my messages and expressed being eager to have me get it working. Once I brought up the idea of a fee (I didn’t even give a total), the person disappeared.
This is not just one random occurrence because I’ve had it a few dozen times. I’m also far from the only person seeing it. Take a look on discussion forums and you’ll see a lot of people requesting help on websites they’re building for others. This highlights both my points that this type of service provider exists and that many people (especially those capable of searching Google for WordPress help) don’t want to pay, even when they’re making money!
If you’ve been able to insulate yourself from this type of person, that’s great. However, you are incorrect with your belief that they don’t exist and why I’m writing about them.
I’m not sure why you drew the conclusion I was saying one developer truly is “less respectable” than another because their markets currently value them differently. Not at all! I think this is how some WP developers see it though, and I was tweaking that view as a kind of “small man syndrome” that isn’t a productive response especially when hitched to a speculative, scapegoating tale about who is to blame.
Mario and I had a great conversation about this topic on and off his blog. I agree with some of his points, and I’m not sure we really disagree on anything substantive; we just interpret the situation from different perspectives, and I learned some things from his perspective. You are correct that I have been able to insulate myself somehow for a decade from people requesting free or extremely cheap work — probably by focusing on personal networks and being clear about pricing — especially with new, out of network contacts. So for that reason I am inclined to see the problems you describe as a minor marketing and screening issue.
Mario originally posed the idea that there is a deluge of “cheap hack developers” or dubious “site implementors” that lower and confuse client expectations. This is thought to harm WP’s reputation as well as “real WP developers'” ability to make a living. I think the deluge is real and uncontrollable, but the negative effects are not. In particular, I think the problem Mario described is really about the difficulty of differentiating oneself as an application or framework developer with WP (in the way those terms would apply to Laravel, Symphony and Rails) because WP has never established or focused on this as foundational to its identity.
Since Mario took up the topic I’ve been more attentive to what people are doing with WP for fun and profit at the bottom of the market (mostly in the US) and prospective client perceptions of WP. Of course there are real problems, but I don’t see a single, small set of causes — especially those of the “they’re doing it all wrong” variety.
I would never say “cheap hacks” do not exist in any market, but if you remove people in third world code mills and focus on those who are fluent in English and have been in business 1-2+ years — both individuals and small firms — you will see a great diversity with many distinct profiles in the WP community. What often looks alarming and harmful on the surface appears more complex (not simply “bad” or “good”) when you dig a little deeper.
The reality of democratized publishing appears messy. WP but more so PHP and the web itself has helped democratize “design” and “development.” The downsides to this for different people working with WP in 2015 are complex and not something we have any hard evidence-based reasons to blame on a particular type of person or business. An accurate and productive understanding of the realities and challenges will require more than anecdotes and scapegoats.
While I agree that you can distinguish between implementors & developers, you cannot assume that websites complexity can fall into this two categories nicely.
When viewing website life cycle, almost every website (regardless of CMS) will become more complex and/or will require more functionality (e.g. responsiveness) that implementors will not be able to provide.
In fact, too few realize how complex WordPress software is and how volnurable plugin(s) integration is, so that even “regular” update becomes a risky operation.
Bottom line is that “implementors” will (almost) always reach their end-of-skill point long before the website will reach its end-of-live (or end of version). Only, developers can provide full support.
I understand what you’re saying but the post wasn’t really about varying complexities of WordPress websites, it was about the different types of service providers and the overall demand for cheap in the WordPress market. Yes, I do believe that many (not all) WordPress sites will become more complex over time, depending on the type of site and how much it is used. I’m not sure that I’d put responsive design into the discussion about what types of functionality implementers cannot provide just because they are not full developers. Ultimately, responsive design is part of the CSS and isn’t WordPress specific (plus many implementers have an understanding of CSS and media queries). While I didn’t really touch on them in the post, another type of implementer can be someone who has been building static websites (i.e. plain HTML/CSS) but decides to move to WordPress. This type of person may have a very good knowledge of responsive design but their lack of WordPress knowledge prevents them from being a “WordPress developer”. The way I’ve explained implementors and developers is not definitive and remains very subjective.
I do agree that implementers will reach a ceiling with their technical limit that is lower than the ceiling of a developer unless that implementer embraces further learning. I’d also agree that “full support” would include the ability to trouble shoot any errors or bugs that may arise. However, if a WordPress site is very minimalistic and small in scope (i.e. to serve as a basic, “brochure” website), I think the level of support that is certain to be needed declines. As long as an implementer is able to keep things updated and doesn’t attempt to modify things they are not capable of fixing, things will typically be fine. That said, though, I’m more of a believer that only developers can offer full support in a “full” way.
Ben Furfie says
Great article Ren.
It really highlights one of the major issues in the WordPress sector these days. It is not that implementers exist, but rather that implementers feel the only way they can make money with their knowledge is by portraying themselves to developers.
As someone who is a designer and front-end developer, I understand exactly how long and how difficult it is to reach that developer level. It’s taken more four years to reach this point and like you, I know there are tons of things I don’t know. I’ve also been in the shoes of an implementor who felt the only way to win any business was to portray themselves as a developer.
I was very lucky that none of the projects I worked on were beyond what I was able to do. However, I was also very lucky that at all times I pushed myself to learn how to do it using code rather than relying on plug-ins or page builders.
Now looking back, I can see that there is a genuine place in the ecosystem for implementers. However, it is not client facing. Rather, implementers should be seeking out developers and agencies and offering their services to them as a freelance WordPress implementor.
The fact is these days, I do not want to be using my billable hours to upload content to a website. Smart implementers should be seeing this as an opportunity to work with developers like myself to utilise the skills. The added benefit of this approach is that they will be working in close conjunction with the very developers who can teach them and provide them with the skills and knowledge to take them to next level.
In summary, implementers need to realise that there is a place in the ecosystem for them. It’s just not pretending to be a developer; rather, that they should be supporting developers by allowing them to offload content uploading management task to them and in the process, work closely with those who can help them become developers themselves.
Hey, Ben. Yes, people selling themselves as developers when they are far from it is certainly a major deal and is to thank for so much undercutting in today’s WordPress market. These people have no idea what it takes to build a quality, custom site and, as such, don’t know what goes into it. I’m sure many also price their services low intentionally to give themselves a price advantage and win over easy clients. This is a huge reason why WordPress services range so drastically in price across the board and why clients believe services related to WordPress should be dirt cheap.
That’s an interesting idea you have about implementers basically helping out developers with the simple, implementing-type project. I would have to agree with you that I don’t want to spend a ton of my time uploading and structuring post content either. I want to assemble and write the functionality and work on the design.
Good stuff! Thanks for commenting.
Doug Schneider says
Hi Ren! What a great post. All to often, I am asking myself what role I play in the vastness of WordPress Development. After reading your article I would say I am a WordPress Implementer on Steroids, and well on my way to becoming a developer. I am comfortable implementing custom php and js, and I am very proficient in coding html and css. I am unable to write php and js from scratch, but have enough knowledge to troubleshoot the code. I still rely on tools, and build 99.9% of all themes on the Genesis Framework and Dynamik Website Builder. It’s not that I can not implement custom code, it’s just that DWB saves me so much time.
It really irks me, when I here of stories, like in your example above, of Dan and Developer Z. Developer Z has no right accepting money to build a website for anyone. At the very least, an Implementer, although not being able to code, should at least have the knowledge to troubleshoot, and fix issues. If you accept money to build a website for a client, have the integrity to back up your work.
I remember the first WP site I worked on, I was super unqualified, and I broke the site, but this was the beginning of a solid future. Instead of being a coward and running for the hills, I buckled down and spent countless hours figuring out what had happened. In the end, I was able to fix what I broke. I think that the job ending up netting me about $1/hour in pay, but the experience was priceless.
My comment on custom themes from ThemeForest, stay away. These themes look sweet on the demo, but I think they sell a false promise to the unsuspecting end user. These themes do not look the part when they are uploaded, it takes hours and hours trying to figure out where this and that goes to make them look remotely close to the demo, and they are heavily bloated with code that will never be used by the inexperienced user. People/business owners need to have a realistic view on what their time is worth. For most professionals I would value their time at minimum $50/hour. In this scenario the DIYer spending 20 hours trying to learn how to build their own site just cost themselves $1000. They would have been better off paying for a skilled developer or implementer, and used their time more wisely. Just my 2 cents!
My last point, because this comment is getting a bit winded. WordPress is more than just uploading WP, installing a theme and adding content. I believe the core of WordPress Developement, is understanding the querkyness of WordPress. Undertanding the security holes and knowing how to properly safegauard the site, understanding that not all plugins are created equal and when to code instead of installing a plugin, knowing the purpose of the site and creating the site with the end result in mind, and being able to understand and work within the database if necessary. And we haven’t even talked about building a well structured site with proper url architecture and mapping.
There is so much more to WordPress, to build efficient and functional sites. I love telling this to my clients; “sure you can watch a video by a professional making everything look so easy, but with your limited skill set do you really think it will be that easy for you?”
Hey, Doug. Thanks for commenting! No worries about it being long…I’m honored any time my posts can encourage someone to reply with so much depth.
It’s cool to hear that you’re working your way into development. When I started with WordPress, I had never even written so much as one line of HTML so I definitely know what it’s like to learn as you go.
That’s great that you were honest enough and cared enough to work out your problems in the beginning. Many people wouldn’t so good for you.
The points you make about WordPress being more than installing themes and adding content are spot on. WordPress is not just a simple blogging tool and people need to understand that. As the most popular platform on the internet for building websites, there are so many things that go into utilizing it that it’s foolish and borderline insulting to true professionals to equate one’s self with them when you don’t even have the basic understanding of what WordPress is.
Thanks again for some great points!
Andy Stitt says
Ren, great piece. Very enlightening for me since I’m working on jumping into the WordPress service provider game.
I read your definitions of a dev and implementer very carefully, and it actually turns out that I’m a dev. I was never your typical geek, but over the course of six years doing front end work and two years playing in Genesis, I build child themes using style.css, functions.php, Git, Desktop Server, and a minimal amount of plugins.
It never even occurred to me that someone could create a site entirely out of many plugins and an overly-complex theme. I haven’t spent much time in Theme Forest or any other marketplaces.
I love WordPress and Genesis and still plan on offering services. I just wonder if I should chase after clients or partner with designers, devs, and agencies to help them with overflow work. Especially if it’s that hard to convince people that good work that lasts over time doesn’t come at rock-bottom prices.
Thanks for the food for thought!
Hey, Andy. Thanks for commenting.
It’s definitely possible but not in a very good way. Most themes (many, but not all, from Themeforest) include shortcodes to replace writing very basic HTML and CSS. I’ve worked on multiple sites in the past that have had in excess of 60-70 plugins installed, many of them serving to achieve one design-related purpose, such as for using Google Fonts, changing background images, alert boxes, etc. Very basics that can be done with a little HTML/CSS are done with plugins.
Regarding which types of clients to pursue, it’s hard to tell. Using my own experience as an example, I’ve done many different types of sites for different types of clients. I’ve also done plenty of subcontract work for other designers/developers, including “implementers” who have bit off more than they could chew. I prefer to take on projects that do not have direct interaction with the client but that’s me (a big part of it is that I hate selling and despise trying to convince people what I can do for them is more than provide a simple commodity like what they get with Squarespace or Wix). I’ve also been wanting to move into specializing (i.e. photography/portfolio websites) but I love what I do so it’s hard for me to say that I’m only going to accept one or two specific project types. So I’d say that you should figure out what type of developer you are, how you prefer to work, what types of work you enjoy doing and come up with a strategy based on all of that.
John Locke says
This summary is as accurate as it gets for about 80% of the WordPress projects out there. Individuals who are starting a business idea are indeed the main protagonists in this oft-played out drama.
There are some common threads that seem to appear on many of these recent articles. One, if you know nothing about web development, and you go to research what it takes to get a website up, you have a few choices. In addition to Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace and others, you have the WordPress option.
Well, how much does it cost to hire a WordPress developer? Not that much, if you hit any job board or freelancing exchange. Agencies are definitely out for the solo business person who just wants to test their idea.
ThemeForest looks like a great option for the non-developer…except only 2% of non-developers successfully set up sites on their own without help. (This is not a made up stat, I only wish I could find the link to this again…)
The expectation is that WordPress is easy, and the regular Joe or Jane won’t hire a developer, because a) they have no budget or b) they don’t want to look stupid because they couldn’t rig up a WordPress theme, which everyone told them would be easy.
Regular developers who charge a decent rate look like aberrations. Normal businesspeople now believe that websites are a commodity. The only segments that understand that quality costs money are startups, enterprise level businesses, and organizations that have their shit together.
This perception may be irreversible at the lower end of the market. I do not see sites like Elance or marketplaces like Envato changing their business models just to save the ecosystem. As long as they have volume, they will continue exactly as they are.
Implementers that are part of the WordPress ecosystem tend to know their limits. It is not these people I worry about. It is the people who still believe you should say Yes to a job and figure out how to do it afterwards that are hurting the market with their ineptitude. A real developer barely stands a chance with prospects who have only encountered these before.
Worse yet, I see seasoned IT developers, marketing and advertising agencies performing the borderline same thing all the time. Overpromise and underdeliver.
How to fix this?
There is a whole underbelly of our ecosystem that turns up before knowledgeable WordPress developers in search results. We have to re-educate the entire small and mid-sized business world to the value of WordPress. Drupal is perceived as the “enterprise level CMS”. Even vanilla PHP developers have sneered that WP is nothing but “drag and drop”.
So some of the things that made WordPress grow are also what are making it less valuable in the eyes of other developers and potential clients.
The platform needs to evolve. I believe the JSON REST API will be a significant step towards making WordPress an application layer. That will help.
But the other 80% of the market that sees it as a commodity…the non-profits and organizations that choose WordPress for their projects because they think it is inexpensive…these are the places where we must work on educating the populace.
Clients are only going the direction they think they are supposed to be going. They don’t know there is a world outside of ThemeForest. They actually don’t know how to go about selecting a competent developer, because most people still haven’t had to do it yet.
Most of all, we need to educate our potential clients with a spirit of love and tolerance. I believe most of them don’t know how to go about getting a website built. That’s when they come to local WordPress Meetups, or start looking on oDesk. Let’s figure out how to get them in OUR education funnel, and the whole WordPress ecosystem will be better off in a few years time.
Hey, John. You bring up some great points that lead to further issues as well.
1. I think WordPress is misused (or highly misunderstood) very often. Like you mentioned when people are researching how to build a website, they discover Wix, Squarespace and others, in addition to WordPress. It’s often that case that these get thrown into the same pit as WordPress and I attribute that, at least partially, to people not understanding the difference between .com and .org. In general, though, people are not going to have as easy of a time building pretty websites with WordPress.com or WordPress.org as they would with something like Squarespace. I think WordPress pros need to be honest (and most are) about the reality that is Wix and Sqaurespace because they aren’t likely going anywhere anytime soon. I think they have the advantage over WordPress when it comes to building attractive websites as easily as possible because, ultimately, that’s what they’re made for. WordPress, as a CMS, is not built for that type of user.
2. Traditional development services have become as big of a commodity as I think you’ll find with any service. When I talk with regular people about building websites, most of them are used to seeing commercials for how easily they can go “buy” a website and have it running with almost no effort. A website is not the product of a professional service, it’s just a product to them.
3. I agree with you that people need to be educated regarding the service developers offer. The optimistic side of me thinks that if someone is searching for a developer, they want to hire one and are aware that the cost will be higher. I also think getting people to understand is certainly possible because I have done it many times. However, the more I think about this whole thing, the more my pessimistic side starts to appear. I think we all understand that WordPress themes and plugins have made it possible for unskilled “developers” (I’m not taking about educated, honest implementers) to do exactly what you mentioned, take on work despite not knowing how to do it in hopes of figuring it out as they go. These people are not developers but advertise themselves as such. With their cheaper rates, they make the unwise client believe that they can get the same quality as a $10,000 developer for $1,000 elsewhere. When deception becomes such a large part of the industry we’re in, it hurts everyone involved and, unfortunately, I think more people like this enter the WordPress world every day than leave it. I do not see this changing and, as such, I am very uncertain about the future of WordPress as a viable option for developers whose primary income is not generated from product sales. Personally, I’ll continue working with it because it’s awesome and it’s how I got involved in the development field but I’ve decided to start picking up other skills because the WordPress job market is over-saturated and full of fake developers who pollute the waters, so to speak.
4. You mentioned oDesk as a source of looking to hire developers. Not to sound like I’m just complaining, but sites like these are another factor why I think finding WordPress work can be difficult. When so many workers from across the globe are thrown under one umbrella and developers from countries like the U.S. have to compete with those from countries like India and Pakistan, there is a clear price issue. American workers simply can’t work for the same prices as Indian workers. I won’t rant too much about this since I already wrote an article about WordPress work on Elance.
As a geeky side-note, though, I am very excited about the REST API and can’t wait to finally think of something to use it for. That’s going to be fun! 🙂