I Can Code. Why Did I Build My Site Using WordPress?

WordPress

As software developers, we sometimes feel the pressure to take every possible opportunity to prove our coding skills. Whether this pressure comes from external sources or is self-inflicted, is up for debate but I’m sure most software developers can relate to this.

The website you’re reading this article on, as you might have already guessed, was created using WordPress, by a web developer. Yes, you read that right. Before you close this tab in absolute disgust, allow me to show you why I made the decision to use WordPress, and how I overcame the burning desire to constantly prove my skills as a developer.

What is WordPress?

Before I get into the meat of the article, let’s first discuss the basics of WordPress for those of us who’ve been living under a rock. WordPress is an opensource content management system. It started off as a blogging framework, but quickly grew in popularity and eventually had multiple features added to it that allow it to do most things commonly needed on a website.

WordPress allows you to install plugins with important functionality to your website with just a few clicks. Functions like SEO, Analytics, Security Enhancements, are all extremely easy to install into a WordPress site. It is completely free and has a fairly gentle learning curve. This lowers the barrier of entry significantly and increases the speed of development and delivery of a website (this will be an important factor later in the article).

I’m sure that’s enough basic information about WordPress. Ironically, I’m not a WordPress expert yet so I can’t go into too much detail anyway.

The reputation of WordPress

When I first started coding at 14 years old, I wrote some “Hello World” programs in C. However, I always had the desire to build more than what the console allowed. I eventually stumbled upon HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

I spent a long time learning these three languages, but for a while, I could only build simple websites. So I took to the internet to find out what I can do to build more complex websites. WordPress, thanks to its popularity, jumped out instantly. After experimenting with it for a few weeks, I was in awe at how quickly I could assemble a website. I could create a complex blog within minutes!

After a while, I realised that it did not scratch my creative itch as a software developer. It always felt to be in this weird place: extremely versatile but very limiting as well. I needed to learn how to actually build an entire website from scratch.

So I started learning PHP, and Python. Then I started learning web frameworks that allowed me to build applications. In the process, I got well acquainted with software development forums and communities.

I started to notice something in these communities. A lot of developers seemed to be less than enthusiastic about platforms like WordPress. It was almost a badge of honour to have built something from scratch using code even though WordPress could accomplish the same thing in a fraction of the time. “You aren’t a real developer if you use WordPress!”. I’ve heard that phrase more times than I care to count. So it was clear to me: a CMS like WordPress isn’t popular amongst developers who feel the need to prove their skills. Joshua Fluke has an interesting video about why developers hate WordPress.

On the other hand, non-technical people love WordPress! The reason is pretty obvious, you can build an entire complex blog, website, and even an e-commerce store without writing a single line of HTML, let alone a back-end programming language.

So what’s important to me?

I was now at a crossroads, I liked getting things done, but I’m also a programmer. So is WordPress good? or is it bad?

The answers to these questions might come easy to you, but for a younger Kelvin, it wasn’t so straightforward. I had to make a decision. If I used WordPress, I knew I’d get scoffs whenever I stated it around developers, especially after claiming to be a developer myself. The alternative was to grit my teeth and spend 2 weeks implementing a feature that’s a 2-minute plugin setup on WordPress.

If you read my about section, I talk about how much I enjoy code, and how it sets me free. I believe this 100%. However, it only sets me free when it allows me to achieve something that nothing else can. You’ll notice I also talk about how I love creating solutions that current technologies allow me to create. Well, WordPress is a technology, isn’t it?

Ultimately, what’s most important to me is results! I know, it’s almost a cliche at this point. Every business person or recruiter will say the same thing. How results are defined may differ depending on the individual, but at the end of the day, anyone who achieves anything prioritises results.

I had to put my pride aside. I had to give up the need for approval from the communities of developers I grew attached to. All this, in favour of actually getting things done. I decided that I’m the type of developer that gets things done in the most efficient way possible. That is a rule I will always live by.

I’m a man of my word

Please excuse the pun, I couldn’t help it. Considering the decision I just made (to prioritise results over simply code), I had to stay consistent with my values.

When I initially got the idea for this website, I wanted a platform that allowed me to achieve multiple things. In no particular order, these include:

  • A place to express myself freely and communicate my mission without any limits
  • A space I owned completely and where I can control the narrative and context in which my content and image are displayed
  • A blog. I love blogging!
  • A place where I could interact with people freely under my own rules. If you read the about section, you’ll notice I stated I enjoy creating communities

These are only the most important features I wanted from my website, the list could be much longer. However, if you’re a developer, you can probably tell that these features are anything but trivial to implement through code. Of course, I could code a platform that meets all these requirements, however, that would take a significant amount of time.

So being the person who prioritises results above all else, I chose WordPress. Development time? 2 hours! Yes, it took me that long, and some of that time was spent registering and setting up a domain, and sorting out payments.

I knew that my site had no special functionality and that WordPress would achieve the result I was looking for, so I went ahead and used it.

Conclusion

In summary, I chose WordPress for this site because it’s fast, easy to use and contains all the features that I wanted on a personal website. Does this mean I will use WordPress for everything? Of course not! That would be absurd, I’m still a software developer (you might disagree but that’s ok) and it’s my job to figure out the best solution to problems that are presented to me. If those problems are challenging, novel and/or require some kind of specialised solution, it will be time to call upon my coding skills and I will be ready.

This does not mean that I only code when it’s absolutely necessary. I still like to experiment and build things, and I will always do that. I’ve just learnt to separate my love for code, from my pride as a developer. So my advice to you: even if you’re a hardcore developer: sometimes, it’s best to pick a tool that allows you to be more effective, rather than simply appear effective.

Enjoyed the article or found it useful? Help out with a share and spread the word to other developers! Also feel free to drop a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts

Kelvin Mwinuka
Kelvin Mwinuka

I am a software developer with a BS in Computer Science from The University of Nottingham. I’m passionate about web technologies. In my free time, I like blogging and challenging myself physically.

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