WordPress Development: 30% of the Internet and Counting
WordPress now powers over 30% of all registered domains, a figure that has risen steadily for years. It’s also by far the fastest growing content management system on the web, surpassing the growth rate of newcomers like Squarespace and Wix. This dominance is a result of WordPress’ incredible versatility. For anything from blogs and brochure websites to online stores or even the back ends of mobile apps, the conversation always starts with WordPress.
The popularity and ease of use of WordPress cut both ways, though: It can be difficult to find true expert programmers among the myriad businesses that only know the cookie-cutter solution of installing free or purchased plugins and themes. Genuine WordPress experts can provide the following:
- Custom plugins that provide the exact solution required and improve, rather than degrade, site speed and performance.
- Custom themes that meet a pixel-perfect design and increase, rather than decrease, the ability of the site owner to perform ongoing design adjustments in-browser.
- Using WordPress as an app platform via integrations with third-party services: Sending and receiving API data in a fashion that’s perfect for the task at hand, as opposed to one-size-fits-most “iframe” approaches.
- Strategy from experience. Knowing the WordPress ecosystem and its real-world caveats, experts make the most of your time and theirs, whether they’re optimizing initial site setup, auditing an existing system, or streamlining maintenance.
Custom WordPress Plugin Development
By writing custom plugins, WordPress developers can use the technology to meet even the most imaginative specifications. WordPress ships with a number of toolkits that give plugin developers a massive head start over “from-scratch” PHP development.
You don’t want to have to contact a WordPress developer every time you want to change a minor bit of content or style, and with WordPress’ widget API, you don’t have to. Widgets give plugin developers a convenient way to offer powerful functionality, while preserving the ability for site owners to make changes in-browser.
The modern web is becoming more and more interconnected. It’s increasingly common for websites to display content from one another. A common example might be to show recent Twitter activity in your sidebar. On the admin side, examples include being able to see popularity data from Google Analytics or subscription data from MailChimp. WordPress, through its HTTP API, gives developers a fantastic array of tools for these types of features.
The downside of building feature-rich websites is that this can sometimes lead to slow page loads. Fortunately, WordPress ships with a very convenient method for caching data, called the Transients API. This gives developers a powerful way to build and reset caches on demand.
Custom WordPress Theme Development
By writing custom themes, WordPress developers can display content in any manner they wish. Highly customized layouts, color palettes, typography, and imagery are all in play. WordPress ships with a number of tools that make theming convenient for the developers, owners, and even site visitors.
The WordPress Customizer gives developers a way to bring various design options out of hard-coded files and into the browser, for easy adjustment by non-technical users. The Customizer also lets admins preview changes before publishing them, and roll back to previous configurations.
WordPress’ menu system means that clients will never have to ask a developer to update hard-coded navigation links, and it also makes it easy to re-use menus in multiple spots throughout a site. This system puts nested menu items, drop-down menus, and fly-out menus well within the skill set of an expert theme developer.
WordPress is an industry leader when it comes to site accessibility, the practice of making sure disadvantaged users can easily use a site. Every feature in WordPress is rigorously tested for those with visual and motor impairments, and an expert theme developer will carry these practices forward into a custom theme.
WordPress as a Platform for Apps
Several years ago, WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg declared that while WordPress started as a blogging engine and matured into also being a website CMS, its real future was in also being a platform for apps. He was right. WordPress now serves as a marvelous way to manage and distribute data that is consumed by non-WordPress front ends, such as native mobile apps.
The WP API
If you are familiar with RSS feeds, one way to think about the WP API is that it’s a similar but far more powerful way to expose content. WP API data is extremely performant, and can be as public or private as required. With the WP API, app developers can use any front-end technology they wish, and trust that their CMS and data layers are already complete.
Real-world WP Platform Integrations
To help explain this concept, here are some notable examples from around the web:
- StoryCorps is a website where people can publish their stories for sharing with others. When users publish a story via the iOS/Android apps, it uses the WP API as an entry point to save the story in the WordPress database. The scalability of this approach was demonstrated in 2017 when the Google homepage urged people to use these apps to share stories about their older relatives.
- The New York Times has developed a custom interface for employees who publish on their live coverage blogs. This application uses React.js and Backbone.js for its front end, and the WP API to pass data from their application to the WordPress database.
- Not surprisingly, the WordPress core team itself relies on the WP API for projects like Calypso—a desktop application that acts as a front end for both reading and writing on WordPress.com.
WordPress Site Development, Auditing, and Maintenance
Many site owners are very familiar with WordPress; those that weren’t previously tend to find it has an easy learning curve. This allows for an 80/20 solution. Whether their consultation includes auditing security or improving maintenance processes, experienced WordPress developers will minimize their own specialized labor by recommending tools and products that maximize the productivity of site owners.
But it’s in launching new web products—especially of the most common types—that the strengths of WordPress really shine.
The original use case for WordPress was as a blogging engine, and it’s hard to find a better solution to this day. Even the most avid blogger would be hard-pressed to imagine a feature not easily configured in a basic WordPress installation. A WordPress expert can take this even farther and install more exotic features like MailChimp email update integration, or a Google in-site search widget.
A new website project—that is, a site featuring hierarchical, evergreen content, as opposed to a blog—is an excellent time to reach for WordPress. Design buzzwords like “splash page,” “blurbs,” and “content buckets” come in and out of fashion, and WordPress has stood at the ready to implement all of them for over a decade. WordPress offers a fantastic canvas for expert developers to provide solutions for things like contact forms, staff directories, Google Maps, and other common website features.
Because WordPress has such a large and mature development ecosystem, there is no shortage of eCommerce solutions available. There are many eCommerce plugins specific to WordPress, with by far the most notable being WooCommerce. WordPress is also fully compatible with off-site drop-in storefronts like Ecwid.
And thanks to its array of developer APIs, WordPress is an easy canvas for developers to write custom integrations with hosted solutions like Shopify. Many store owners also leverage WordPress to publish SEO- and human-friendly content about their inventory in the form of a blog.
WordPress is the perfect platform for online forums, with the most popular choice being the excellent BBPress plugin. There are also plugins available for integrating WordPress with popular forum software like XenForo and phpBB. Many forum owners use tools like these to share content and generate discussion between their WordPress blog and their forum.
Get Started Today with WordPress
WordPress is the software of choice for many large and varied businesses including CNN, USA Today, and Spotify. When deciding on a platform for your project, the conversation need not start with How do we do this? but instead with How do we do this on WordPress?
Is WordPress the best choice for every single application imaginable? Maybe not. But it’s flexible and powerful enough that it’s very likely the best option for all but the most esoteric projects.