How I Became Addicted to WordPress

Posted by on Jan 29, 2013 in Web Design, Wordpress

How I Became Addicted to WordPress

Confession:  I don’t blog, yet I spend hours in WordPress every day.

In 2000, a client asked me to add a guestbook to his website.  I built this feature for him with a cool back-office where he could remove any comments that he didn’t like.  I added the ability for him to send a mass mail to all of the people that had contacted him, then later an ability to download the list.  He enjoyed his guestbook, but unfortunately — so did some spammers!   I setup e-mail notifications on new posts and implemented a honeypot — a secret hidden input box that viewers wouldn’t see, but that spambots would fill in – leading to their entry being tossed out!

Eventually, the client was interested in maintaining his own content.  I was equally interested in not maintaining his content for him.

I built a publishing platform with ‘documents’ and ‘folders’ and an what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor powered by TinyMCE.  Image uploads?  I built a media library too.  Statistics?  Did it.  Every visitor became a statistic with a trail of crumbs and the admin facility had a picture of the Cookie Monster from sesame street nibbling on a cookie.

After a while, there were over 50 sites running DynamicONE.  New features came with each client — forums, calendars, virtual tour building — even a full home builder inventory management system!

The goal was always simple — make powerful tools that work together and that are fun to use.

And then the something unexpected happened.

Everyone started blogging.

Do you remember when you first heard of a ‘blog’?  Do you remember life before blogs?  All of a sudden anyone with an opinion could have a quirky website about cupcakes.  Anyone could become an analyst — a commentator — an online celebrity.  Just sign up to get a blog, pick a theme and go.  ‘Posts’ and ‘Tags’ became terms that everyone on the Internet understood.

And then everything went social.

Personal websites became a thing of the past … and we entered into a world of social media, open standards, and inter-operable platforms.  It was dubbed ‘Web 2.0′ by Tim O’Reilly, famous author and advocate of open source.

Facebook and Twitter replaced the guestbook and the user forums of yesteryear… photo galleries went social on Flickr… e-mail left the desktop and went to what we’re now calling ‘the cloud’… and navigating the Internet became just as second nature as using a computer.

What was even more alarming is that clients began to have an opinion on how their website back office should function.

This is when I discovered WordPress.

I needed something that I could build powerful websites in — and something that would meet the usability expectations of my clients.  I needed a tool that was growing with the web.

There was Mambo… which became Joomla… which is still to this very day an embarrassing mess of nerd terminology mixed with a publishing platform that turned everything into blocks where content could be shifted around…

Then there’s Drupal… which is an incredible development platform made by developers for developers.  But our clients aren’t developers and it’s enough work to build an amazing website without having to build an amazing back office and train clients on how to use it.

But I needed something that could be run by a blogger — a Facebook user — a Gmail user — something that gave just as much to the client as it did the developer.

This is when I fell in love with WordPress.

WordPress elegantly replaced each of the areas that I’d carefully designed in my own content management system.

The documentation (http://codex.wordpress.org/) is the best written documentation for any platform I’ve seen. It provided me with the resources to quickly understand WordPress from top to bottom from a technical standpoint. For the end-user — the usage documentation was so well written that I could direct clients there to learn how to operate their sites!

There are unlimited possibilities for creating new admin areas using Advanced Custom Fields.  Amazing e-Commerce power with grouped products, cross-sales, scheduled promotions and complete control over shipping and payment with WooCommerce.  Clients asked about SEO and from WordPress’s built in structure and permalinks to the awesome Yoast SEO plugin – I knew without a shadow of a doubt that WordPress was the solution without peer.  Want a mobile version of your site?

Perhaps the most exciting part of developing with WordPress is actually seeing the client use their site.  We love when we hear from a client that they’ve seen other systems and by far, this is the best looking site with the easiest tools.

So here I am today, writing a blog post as a team member of dBrandMakeover.com in WordPress.

I’m not going to make a habit of this.

I’m addicted to WordPress, but not to blogging — that’s where the SEO and Social Media Marketing guys step in!

 
[schema type="person" name="Chris Hickman" orgname="Digital Brand Makeover" jobtitle="WordPress Guru" url="http://www.digitalbrandmakeover.com/author/chris-hickman/" description="When Chris sees a client's needs, the gears immediately start moving in his head. He has created over 150 websites and promises that the next will be better than the last. His endless quest for providing customers with lead driving, call-to-action websites with intuitive administration tools has secured him a VIP spot at dBrandMakeover. He's a WordPress evangelist who likes to build everything from the ground up; is religiously insistent on following best known practices and confesses that he's enjoying every moment of it." ]

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