Nathan Anderson, our Digital Creative Director, took part in a recent presentation about WordPress development at a WP Omaha meetup. Along with our awesome development team, Nathan recently completed an amazing website revamp (if we do say so ourselves) for the Sioux Honey Association Co-op. At the meetup, he shared about the revamp process, including a lot of fancy-smancy WordPress backend work.
Here are some key takeaways from his presentation (in a non-technical, non-confusing manner, of course):
What did you present on and why?
WP Omaha is a WordPress-focused users’ group that encompasses a broad range of members, including new and experienced developers, site owners, and site administrators. The group is sponsored by Omaha’s Interface: The Web School, a program that several Bozellers have attended. Since there was a lot of foundational work involved in the Sioux Honey project, I decided to build a presentation around that, focusing on the core means of WordPress extensibility used during the website development. The presentation can hopefully be used as a point of inspiration for others interested in creating their own WordPress plugins and constructs.
What was the process you and the development team went through to develop the WordPress plugin?
When choosing whether to build from scratch or to use a component off the shelf, our team looks at the whole problem – both from a business and a development perspective. In the case of the Sioux Honey website, we knew that the client wanted a feature in which website users could filter by broad category type. So we needed to build a search feature for the site. Based on what the creative team wanted to accomplish, the development team decided to build these WordPress components in-house. That’s something our development team does with all our website build outs. No matter the project, we always go into development with an all-encompassing plan.
When would you recommend creating your own plugin?
There are a lot of considerations when deciding whether to create your own components or use ones already available from WordPress. Aspects like time, budget, resources, deadline and team capability must be considered. Ideally, whatever team you are working with will be competent and confident enough to make these kinds of decisions. Overall, there’s never a right way or wrong way to develop something; instead, development requires weighing those important aspects to determine the best move for the project. If creating something that’s flashy and cool is a valid business goal, invest in that so people remember the experience.
What are the benefits of creating your own?
Complete control. It’s comparable to hiring an architect and contractor to build your house versus buying one. If you’re choosing from what’s on the market, you might not get that walk-in closet you wanted. The same concept applies to development. When you create your own components and write your own code, you have complete control of the experience. You can customize off-the-shelf components and other peoples’ codes, but that can get tricky as there are different styles of code writing. Customizing someone else’s code creates potential obstacles and challenges.
And final words of wisdom?
Ultimately, the goal of the WP Omaha presentation was to spark ideas and creativity, and get the attendees thinking about default WordPress constructs. Following the presentation, there was a 45-minute Q&A session, so, it felt like the presentation got the attendees thinking and provided meaningful takeaways.
For those interested in getting into the nitty-gritty WordPress technicalities of Nathan’s presentation, check out his full presentation here.