It’s important to first understand the difference between web designers vs web developers.
Web designers typically focus on the aesthetics of web sites, often times using tools such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to create graphic elements and create web site layouts.
Of course there is always overlap between the two roles and certainly a huge benefit to have an understanding of the others practice however you’re only as good as the amount of time you spend doing something.
In the past web developers were at an advantage. With a basic understanding of Adobe Photoshop and the use of HTML templates, they could create aesthetically pleasing websites with needed functionality. Web designers couldn’t do more than provide basic HTML websites.
Content management systems, more specifically WordPress have changed the way most web design companies, web designers and developers create websites.
WordPress has become the most widely used content management system. Today it takes up 60% market share in comparison to other solutions such as Joomla or Drupal which are more difficult to work with for those who don’t have any knowledge in web development.
In fact, WordPress has empowered both web designers and web developers in building better websites. Web designers have the ability to create websites which can include ecommerce capabilities, membership portals and add online custom forms.
Why Should Web Designers Learn WordPress
1. It’s easy to use
Nowadays a WordPress website can be developed without ever touching a single line of code. However, an understanding of HTML and CSS can certainly be advantageous in customizing the front end of a website.
Most hosting companies such as Siteground Hosting provide a one-click installation tool which allows users to install WordPress in seconds with the click of a button.
Whether you’re looking to add content or images, modify a websites layout or add functionality, this can be easily done through the WordPress dashboard.
WordPress can be used for building anything from a small corporate website to a large-scale e-commerce platform. It’s become the website software of choice which powers big brands such as Disney, Microsoft, BBC and Bloomberg.
With no experience, users can install, setup and manage by just about anyone.
2. Thousands of WordPress Themes to Choose From
WordPress themes are a collection of templates and stylesheets which can define the appearance of a website. Premium themes can be purchased for around $50 from websites such as Themeforest.com which can not only enhance the appearance of how a website looks but can also extend functionality.
In fact, some WordPress themes can require a learning curve as they have their own interface visible in the WordPress dashboard which can enhance how a website functions.
It would be a beneficial for web designers to learn Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) which would provide the ability to customize WordPress themes and on-page elements by adding snippets to the style.css file or through the theme itself which sometimes may include its own section to add custom CSS.
3. Thousands of plugins available to supercharge your website
Through the WordPress plugin library, additional code and features can be added to a website with the click of a mouse. Without touching any code, web designers can now build sophisticated websites which would have required strong coding skills in the past.
Through the use of WordPress plugins, adding a contact form or building an ecommerce website can be done with the click of a mouse.
The plugin library which houses thousands of plugins can be access through the WordPress dashboard. Through the menu option Plugins->Add New and using the search, there is a plugin to achieve almost anything.
Without writing a single line of code you can easily add functionality to a website. Through plugin settings an site owner can configure their site to behave as required.
Need to launch an ecommerce website? Install WooCommerce which has become the most widely used ecommerce solution. Need to add a custom form? Install Gravity Forms. In fact, you’ll likely find several available plugin solutions available to choose from depending on what functionality you need.
Whenever available, it’s recommended to purchase paid plugins when available to receive enhanced support and additional features.
4. Implement On-Page SEO
Search engine optimization typically required knowledge of HTML in order to setup on-page factors such as title tags, meta descriptions, creating links and adding XML sitemaps.
SEO is often overlooked by most web designers. This was likely due to not understanding it or not being able to configure it as it required coding knowledge.
Through the use of SEO plugins such as YOAST for SEO and modifying content using the content editor, a web designer can easily enhance a websites visibility in search in the WordPress dashboard without having to edit any HTML.
YOAST for SEO allows a site owner to add title tags and meta descriptions for individual pages, setup 301 redirects, connect to Google Webmaster Tools, build & manage XML sitemaps to help Google better understand your website.
5. WordPress Support and Community
Learning WordPress takes time but there are thousands of online guides, courses & tutorials and how-to videos available online to gain an understanding of how it works
The WordPress community available through WordPress.org has thousands of active members and plugin authors willing to help with any issues you may experience.
Paid themes and plugins typically include responsive support through online forums and ticketing systems.
Learning WordPress can be extremely beneficial for Web Designers. It can lead to building more functional websites, boost your market value and open doors to new opportunities which would have otherwise been beyond your skill set.