There’s been a lot of debate this year about developers. What makes a WordPress developer, really? Is it someone who is able to understand and use code? Is it someone who can create a child theme and make customizations? Or is it someone who can simply implement a theme?
Well, there’s definitely a strong dividing line between developers and implementers, no question. But where that line falls in terms of skill sets can be a bit blurry. To help us all grapple with the answer, we’ve cooked up this quiz to help you finally flesh out your bio: “Joe Schmoe, WordPress Developer” or “Joe Schmoe, WordPress Implementer.”
So, Are You a WordPress Developer or Implementer?
Let’s put the confusion to rest for once and for all. Take the following multiple-choice quiz and learn where your skills fall on the developer vs. implementor scale.
Now that you know your score, let’s first spend some time talking about what makes an implementer, what makes a developer, and why the distinction has been a problem for some.
What is a WordPress Developer?
While there might be some debate about it, a WordPress developer is someone who can build something on top of WordPress that’s either wholly new or extends the function and/or look or something that exists already like a theme or a plugin. A developer goes beyond the front-end of WordPress and knows how it functions, how to modify it, and what techniques to use to achieve specific desired effects. A developer may not always build sites from the ground up but could if they needed to.
Wait, I think I need to repeat that last bit for those in the back:
WordPress developers may not always build sites from the ground up but could if they needed to.
What is a WordPress Implementer?
A WordPress implementer, on the other hand, is basically someone who uses WordPress really well. Tom McFarlin calls implementors “power users,” and I really like that because it’s an apt description of what’s going on here. Implementors are expert WordPress users who have mastered the ins and outs of installing WordPress, setting it up, installing and customizing a theme, and installing plugins. They can do backups, updates, and a whole host of other front-end stuff.
Implementors can be awesome but developers they are not.
Knowing This is Important, Because…?
At first glance, it might seem the distinction between a developer and implementer is straightforward. Beyond that, it might seem unimportant. But the problem is when someone goes to hire a developer to build a site for them. Knowing who they’re hiring, what skills that person possesses, and why it’s so important to choose an actual developer (if that’s what you need) plays a major role in the outcome of a project.
If you’re looking to launch a new site and you don’t know the difference between a developer and an implementor, you run the risk of:
- Shelling out too much money for tasks you could likely complete yourself.
- Winding up with a site that uses a non-customized theme that looks like a bunch of other sites.
- Hiring someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and bails mid-project.
- Having to hire someone else to redo a project because it was done incorrectly the first time around.
- Owning a site that has massive security flaws due to improper setup and installation techniques.
And that’s just scratching the surface of potential problems. Implementors certainly have their place and can be good at what they do. But you don’t want to hire someone who calls himself a developer when he really is an implementor.
Likewise, you don’t want to label yourself as a developer when your skill set falls in line with that of an implementor. Even if it’s unintentional, misrepresentation is a bad thing.
Special thanks to our very own Daniel Pataki for the code-based questions in the quiz.
How did you go? Share your score in the comments below.