For whom this website is made for?
At first the answer is – for the client, for the business. But if we reformulate the question into: “Who will be using the website?”, then the answer is getting the new perspective and sheds the light towards employees on one hand, and the website visitors on the other. If we decide to think as a client, to whom we direct these questions, we’ll see that website will be administered by the client directly, or if it’s in question some larger organization, some of its employees will take this job, who don’t have a clue what they will face once the website development is over. Basically websites, CMSs(Content Management Systems) to be precise when they are built, usually no one thinks of the person(s) who will administer it, everyone assumes that they will find their way around. That part deserves more, usually a lot more, attention.
From our standpoint, a simple to use admin panel is one of the SEO foundations. Maybe you’ve heard the expression: “Content is the king”. If we conclude that some Jane or John will insert website contents or the client itself, then it’s clear we can’t neglect the fact that admin panel can be challenging, it can have input fields that can allow input that can ruin content presentation, initiate some bug(s), ruin semantics, in other words we can’t afford admin panel that can allow their admins to make a mistake during content update or new content insertion.
That means website development doesn’t start or end with making part of the website that only visitors should see – website quality must be propagated even through the admin panel part. Either by using Gutenberg editor, or Page Builders, or you are basing admin panel fieldsets on some plugin like Advanced Custom Fields, wordpress, as the most popular admin panel, doesn’t have same admin panel for every use case, mostly by choosing one of possible paths for wordpress website creation.
Lately, there is a lot of resistance towards using wordpress as a CMS, but that’s not the wordpress fault. It’s your mistake. Mistake lies in your decisions, mistake made because you were only focusing your attention on what your visitors should see, and not you nor your employees.
Although there is a possibility to tumble around / restyle its admin section, wordpress isn’t a bad solution because it allows you to do that, or it’s bad because there are some security holes (give one open source & additionally free solution that doesn’t comes with security issues (which by the way all can be sealed)), wordpress as CMS usually takes the most heat mostly because its very popular or it’s not someones cup of tea – because its php based or they are more into some other CMS.
Content admins aren’t developers, nor they are QAs, nor they are technically most literate persons
Everything is easier if they are, but admins usually aren’t developers/programmers. What can we expect from future admins?
We can expect that they have know-how with Microsoft Office set of programs, like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and more from this we simply can’t assume.
That being said, after website launch, we should ensure that the admin section should be well designed.
That being said, after the website launch, we should have a nicely packed, intuitive and well organized administration area. That will ensure easy website administration, adding/updating pages/posts and at the end of the day admins will focus only on copywriting and not wasting their time by searching differences between h1 and h5 tags in semantic way, we will not empower/enable them to make SEO or visual mistakes – remove them from the harms way when something brakes or crashes. That’s the theme author, agency or developer that made that complete system possible or even client which allowed that to happen and not the content admins.
WordPress based website – build techniques overview
There are two popular ways you can store data using wordpress. One is sadly more popular, because it’s simpler, and the other path is better, but harder.
1. Easier route – usage of page builders
If you choose easier route, road without designers, developers, programmers, SEO specialists, road that engages people who will create a set of needed functionalities by clicking around – installing large number of plugins, themeforest theme, you’ll get website that it will please you at the first, but which surely start to show it’s true face, sooner or later.
Occasional breaks in the design, order inconsistency, bugs and unplanned layout breaks on certain resolutions, structure/semantic errors, large amount of nested html and because all that html is in the wrong place (instead in the file system where it should be, html is stored inside the database) which takes more time to be loaded and presented to the end visitor. Last part can be resolved with caching, but it’s very common to see that no caching solution is introduced – and the website remains slow – which is, by the way, one of the SEO ranking signals.
Aside from that, the most important thing you’ll miss – you’ll miss your complete data, once you decide to upgrade, or move to something else. Content migration is almost impossible to do. Mainly because stored contents are hidden in different html chunks, filled with different dynamic snippets – not copy, which wouldn’t be the case if the html was in the proper place – file system, and only copy was stored in the database.
We can write about the subject even more, but maybe it’s better to compare pros and cons from each method, and you decide:
Page builder usage pros:
- Faster delivery dates
- No designer & No developers
Page builders usage cons:
- Loading speeds – page builders have a great impact on website performance, front & back end part
- Unstable website layout – after plugin update, there are no warranties that the website layout will remain the same, like before the update
- Fine tuning – page builders-neglect importance of user experience. There is actually a maximum what can be done once you depend on page builders, which often leads to functional and visual compromises down the road
- Functionality limits – they are not made for customizations
- Almost impossible content migrations –
Page builders are using their own code formatting, html blocks usage or some other snippet from the database on the one hand, and their presentation on the other. Removal of that specific page builder solution would lead to removal of all page blocks or even worse random gibberish shown instead of specific block or all blocks, instead of the copy/html. Migration from one page builder solution to another or to the solution that doesn’t use page builders is often a horror adventure, without a happy ending.
2. Custom theme development
Yes, a harder path. Like building the house using bricks, instead of using wicker and straw, but from our standpoint better path for every business that thinks ahead. Additionally, custom theme development, with proper technical documentation, allows your independence from a developer/agency, which initially created the website – you’re not condemned only on one contractor, who can potentially condition you in order to maintain your website, but instead with the proper documentation you can source other developers/agencies to evolve/develop your website event more.
Admin panel of such a website should be relieved of any unnecessary functionality, also customized to your business needs, and by doing so administration will be easier and less challenging.
When you build the website in this way, developers have a chance to further enhance your administration area and allow you to insert copy only where it is needed, removing unnecessary fields and structures. Database will hold only text based contents, without the code, and by doing so database read times will decrease resulting in decreased page loading times, which can be migrated into something else, when the time comes.
For this approach we will also make a pros and cons list:
Custom theme development pros:
- Website loading speed – they are often faster than the page builder based websites. You can test this by using tools like PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix. These tests are not dependent on your internet speed, but they are showing things you can do to further improve your website speed, a factor that is used(one of many others also used) for search engine ranking purposes – SEO.
- Consistency – as time goes by, your presentation will look identical like the one on the first day of launch, after all plugin & wp core file updates.
- Security – WordPress as an open source platform, is prone to security challenges, which are with more/less effort solvable. Websites that are based on a theme that’s not open source, have better chances of survival.
- Fine tuning – no compromises – you’re getting the exact thing you were asking for.
- Subsequent changes and updates – with proper technical documentation , it’s easy to introduce new functionalities or update existing ones.
- Content migration – database stores the data that can easily be migrated into any other new format
Custom theme development cons:
- Price – designer and developer costs more than to click your way through until the website is done
- Time – it simply takes more time to make proper solution
It all depends on what you are trying to achieve. If you are investing into business that you know or hope will be long present in the digital sky, then there is no dilemma – wordpress based on a custom theme is the path you need to follow, but on the other hand if you have one time deal plans, or something with known expiration date – then yes, maybe page builder way is a proper path – but that all depends on from case to case, because then maybe you even don’t need CMS.
Either way – pay attention to what you get for your money.