How WordPress is Changing Our Webosphere.Guest_Blogger | Oct 11, 2012
While there are richer and more robust solutions for creating websites, WordPress is steadily gaining ground as the go-to tool for entrepreneurs looking to create a simple but easy-to-manage website. Freelance web designer and writer Scott Stanton shares his perspective on this trend bringing simplicity (and great eye-appeal) to your web presence.
When first dipping my toes into the web development world (over a decade ago), there was one request that consistently brought a grinding halt to landing a new client. It was as if they were all reading from the same script. “I just want something simple, only a few pages, because I don’t have a very big budget for this. Maybe a slideshow on the homepage, other than that I’ll leave it up to you.”
No problems there – so I’d say, “Perfect.” And that was the cue for the inevitable: “Oh, and I want to easily be able to update everything as well.” Ladies and gentleman, the train has derailed.
Unbeknownst to me, about the time I was ankle deep in the development waters a little open source blogging project called b2/cafelog began. Over the next few years the project snowballed in to what we now know today as WordPress.
WordPress makes establishing a web identity cheap, effective and most of all, practical for everyone. Their platform makes updating text, swapping out images and keeping content fresh, quick and painless. If your client wants no part of it and prefers to leave the web wizardry to you, getting under the hood to make a few modifications to a WordPress site is much quicker, and far easier than plunging in to raw code.
If your client is of the, “You create it all, then I’ll take it from there” type, but later asks how to make the flying toasters on their screen go away, don’t worry, it’s a pretty simple platform to get acquainted with. In fact, I had a meeting with a client recently looking for a site that was a textbook perfect case for a WordPress site. Their organization needed a site that would entail a lot of news updates, schedules, calendars, and alike. I assured them I’d make it so they could easily keep it up to date, at which point they freaked out and said, “My computer skills are limited to turning on the computer and logging in to Facebook.”
It was a perfect comparison. If you can Facebook, you can WordPress.
What about us developers who still love coding? There will always be themes to develop. I often thought it was easy to spot a WordPress site by what I found to be some common themes in the layout. These were by no means poor designs, they simply share some common attributes that I find throughout many WordPress sites.
Notice the header spans the full width of the page, is about 80 to 100 px tall, logo in the top left, row of navigation, a row of content with an image slideshow, two more rows of content below, and the footer. It’s a very clean, polished and well-crafted design.
This is another common WordPress layout that is more in tune with their traditional blog look. A column is added down the right side, which they’ve utilized in this example to promote their social media outlets and ads. Their cleverly disguised RSS icon in the top right corner is another common attribute of a site developed on the WordPress platform.
There is nothing wrong with these sites, in fact they’re very pleasing to look at. These layouts are common with WordPress sites simply because they’re quite similar to the default template of WordPress, aptly named Twenty Eleven.
I recently heard a figure that 22% of websites created today are built on the WordPress platform. This prompted me to jump in to my browser history and put the last 10 sites I visited under the microscope to see if two were developed on the WordPress platform. One I had easily identified, while Waveguide.com was my needle in the haystack.
A nice, custom built, WordPress theme that has a full-width homepage image slider, two levels of navigation, and a very clean layout throughout the site. The encouraged me to bump the numbers up to four out of twenty.
I decided to go four out of twenty and found another sleeper cell in my browser history, Citizen Cope. A full-height background image, single page design with smooth sliding between sections, and lots of opacity allowed this site to easily fly under my WordPress radar.
If you’re a developer who still loves to write code I suggest you embrace the WordPress platform rather than trying to shy away from it, especially if a client is requesting a dynamic site. If you’re not a developer but are looking to have a WordPress site built for your business so that you can easily manage the content, I suggest you find a developer who’s able to think outside of the standard layout and challenge their creativity.
About the Author
Scott Stanton has spent the past decade working nights as a freelance web designer, only to write about the latest design trends at his day job as a freelance writer.