WordPress Development

I’d been quite resistant, for some strange reason, to embrace WP as a development platform until recently. Perhaps it’s because my only exposure to WordPress as a developer had been many years ago, essentially in its infancy, and at that point I had no real-world use for it. In those days, my team and I were developing enterprise applications and we preferred to roll-em ourselves.

Fast-forward 15 years, and I have a client whose been publishing entirely on WordPress since Obama was still president! The expectation for the contract was to implement a solution that kept with the team’s comfortable knowledge of WordPress– its vast pool of extensibility options, and the platform’s subtle learning curve–while still delivering a highly performant and modern solution.

Challenge (reluctantly) accepted. Just before I was tasked to revamp the site and implement enhanced functionality, I had been helping with basic maintenance tasks using a combination of the classic editor and Beaver Builder. It was an experience quite unpleasant. Meanwhile, I was getting up to speed with Next.js 13 and distributed SQL in an effort for another client, planning to “sell” the folks set on WordPress this alternate, “sexier” solution.

There was no give from the client and I was offered the option of re-vamping the site with two potential editors: Beaver Builder or Elimentor. Additionally, the client provided a thick whitepaper comparing the two. (Reluctantly again) Over the weekend it was read and options were evaluated. Neither looked especially appealing. The developer community seemed to be gravitating toward “blocks” and this curious Gutenberg editor. Took about half an hour to see that this was the right choice.

Despite a limited knowledge base in the world of WordPress, Gutenberg with its React-based block editor and (with some massaging) its standards-based output, was a no brainer for the project. Taking just a few weeks to redesign and develop the site, the team’s and my expectations were exceeded.

Having learned quite a bit from this experience, I chose to shelve the Next.js project I had been taking too long to develop and ported it to WordPress, empowering another client to easily manage their content and solve common problems that would otherwise require my involvement.

Presently, I’m only six weeks into exploring the universe of possibilities that Matt Mullenweg and the dedicated team of opensource WordPress developers have created, and I’ve released to production four sites, with two more in test, and three others currently in development. Further, as I seek to extend WordPress core functionality, I’ve begun developing themes and plug-ins as well as scripting common setup and maintenance operations, leveraging AWS to further increase performance and reliability.

I’ve discovered firsthand why WordPress has been rolling for 20 years and continues to be supported by one of the broadest developer communities. Not to say I won’t continue to work with and explore other solutions, just that I’ve been impressed and contented to work with this platform and look forward to expanding my offerings in this space.