Wordpress or DIY?

Posted by Kaitlin Kelly on June 27, 2019

I graduated The Flatiron School’s Full Stack Web Development program in May of 2019. Several months prior, my fiance had asked me to build him a website for a budding business venture of his. At the time of his request, I hadn’t completed the JavaScript, React, or Redux curriculum, and I was unsure if my skills at the time were enough to build out an impressive front-end in the time he needed. I reached out to my slack community and landed on WordPress after some deliberation. Did I know how to build out a fully function MVC architected website at time I came to this conclusion? Yes. Did I choose a platform that requires no such full stack knowledge in order to build my site? Also yes. However confusing that may be, I’ve learned several valuable lessons from the choice I made.

First, WordPress is a tool in our programming toolbox and should be utilized if the circumstances warrant it. In my particular circumstance, I was looking at a very cookie-cutter blogging layout with a tight schedule and even tighter turnaround time. WordPress gave me the option to jumpstart a fully customized website in about 1 days time, and this benefited my ‘client’. While I certainly do not aim to fall back on the impressive WordPress arsenal every time I need to web develop, there is a delicate balance of sharpening your skills while not re-inventing the wheel on someone else’s time.

Second, using WordPress actually reinforced my understanding of CSS and HTML principles, which is something that surprised me. I had interacted with WordPress minimally before my education at Flatiron, and while it seemed user friendly I didn’t actually know what I was doing. Post Flatiron, developing on the WordPress platform allowed me to visualize containers, paddings, and margins in a way I hadn’t previously thought of. I was easily able to correlate choosing an element via WordPress with manually typing out an HTML tag element. Clicking on an element’s user-friendly ‘paint brush’ in WordPress was the same as me manually connecting each HTML tag to a CSS selector. By the time I was finished designing a website in WordPress, I felt my Full Stack skills enhance. Even though I did not choose to re-invent the wheel I still learned something new. This brings me to my final point.

Developing is developing, no matter the technology. There will always be more than one solution to a given problem, and choosing the most efficient solution is a skill set in and of itself. And most importantly, there is always something to learn no matter which path you choose.