281 – Choosing our website building tools

‘WordPress Business Bootcamp’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

Welcome to another in the Business Bootcamp series where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish.

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We are on the first episode of Season 3, where we are looking at The Technical Build. And today we are discussing “Choosing our website building tools”.

We are both taking contrasting approaches to getting our new businesses running and our first client’s site built. She is a new lawyer with no previous site called Ms A.

Going Traditional with fixed pricing. He has presented a proposal and contract. Set some expectation on the plan with has a deadline.


Going agile. Minimal viable website with ongoing improvements that are in collaboration with the client. Essentially results based improvement for the  lifetime.


Episode 1. Choosing our website building tools.

For this we shall concentrate on what builds our page output. With WordPress, there are a whole bunch of extra plugins that are unique to using a CMS like security, caching, and back-up.

Even though this is a WordPress podcast we should ask the question here whether that is a good choice. Much has changed since we started.

Episode intro: The Problem.

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Back when we started, folk needed someone who could write HTML and CSS. Now this is not needed.

Ms A’ s site could be made in a few hours, but we could spend months or years suffering with choice paralysis over the number of building tools available (just in WordPress alone).

What should we be investing our time in learning? Still HTML and CSS skills, so they can accompany what the build tools do for us. We have to consider the clients needs in this. 

Will Ms A. want to update her own content? To what extent? We all get clients that range from those who will never touch to those who want to create and design their own pages.

WordPress or not?

In terms of output, Ms A.’s site is likely to be one of HTML pages. What justification do we have for using WordPress?

  • Our ease? Their cost?
  • An excuse to lock her into a maintenance plan?
  • Giving her more control over updating or adding her own content?
  • Ability to add functionality?
  • Ability to respond to change?

I think that if you’re trying to save a bunch of time then a CMS, any CMS, is a no brainer. I remember in the day trying to build a CMS from the little PHP that I knew. I played with frameworks like Codeigniter and in the end it was always a CMS that I went back to as they had solved the problem.

If the site has editable (by the client) content, then I think that you owe it to them to use a CMS. You can sell WP, but they can go to seek out WP rivals, but at this point, I think that the conversation about rivals is moot!

No lock in to a single vendor is a great argument. “There are thousands of devs who can pick this up if we fall out.”


Except it almost never actually works that way.

The used to be things you could to a HTML site – https://www.cushycms.com/en


Agile V Traditional

  • Traditional focussed on the end deliverable – tricky if you don’t control it.
  • Traditionally sell the commodity – again tricky because although it is open source we have to update.
  • Agile originates in software so it was focussed both on the “tech” and the “product”  but it really makes them like a service. Tech and the product is seen as “a means to an end”. It should follow the KISS principle and be open to change.
  • An agile web designer is going to focus on the ongoing UX design and digital marketing, and is going to avoid being wedded to any specific tech. The business advantage is obvious to anyone who invested in learning Flash!

Proprietary systems V Open source 

  • Being able to provide addons like hosting.
  • Access to a community of innovators (a solution for everything?).
  • Does open source really give us freedoms when locked in to needing to update (a simple CMS we can make our own).
  • WordPress is now very commercial and aimed at our clients more than us?
  • Reliability and risks.

I’m pretty sure that you’re locked in from the get go these days with a whole host of plugins which are essential.


I sense there is a general move to reducing dependencies (all the ads, major takeovers of simple plugins, big acquisitions, security issues, hidden affiliate marketing etc). I have moved to using snippets more.


I know several people who think that their website with $150 of annual plugin fees is way to expensive for their taste, and I really do get the point – hence Gutenberg trying to do some of that in the future!


We could build Ms A site for free with Google.


The community piece is a myth for clients – no way that a typical client is going to benefit from that, far from it, it will be intimidating and alien to them and might put them off FOSS forever!

I think that they reliability issues are now not really being discussed anymore.


3rd party builders V Gutenberg

  • Gutenberg will stick around and is free of dependency (good for the client if use friendliness increases – as it has to).
  • Support may not be what is needed and it’s subject to change (maybe not so good if the client is not onboard with adapting to those changes).
  • It is always going to depend on the business needs. Gutenberg perhaps is best seen and one builder option.
  • Options building on top of Gutenberg have gone their own way not over things like FSE so have the same dependencies as other page builders.
  • Always the risk of page builders dying, but I think it is too popular for that to happen in the medium term – if ever.

You need a HUGE amount of time and energy to make anything work with Gutenberg, but with all of the amazing things that are happening with blocks I think that it’s going to he harder and harder to ignore.

Support is troublesome, you’re going to have to work at it by yourself or with the community.

I think that the best bet for Google right now is a great minimal theme and a lot of time!


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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your hosts, David Waumsley, and Nathan Wrigley.

Hello there. And welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast, you've reached episode number 281 entitled choosing our website building tools. It was published on Thursday, the 2nd of June, 2022, my name's Nathan Wrigley. And in a few minutes, I'll be joined by my good friend David Wamsley, so that we can have our chats.

It's the first in series three of our WordPress business bootcamp series. So looking forward. Before that though, a little bit of housekeeping. The first thing to mention is as I've been mentioning over the last few weeks, the page builder summit is back. If you're interested in page builders, if you enjoy using WordPress page builders, then we've got a whole load of content for you.

It happens later on in June, it's from the 20th to the 24th of June. And we'd love to get you on our mailing list. You can do that by going to page builder, something. Dot com and signing up there and we will keep you updated as, and when we get some new information, you'll be able to see a list of the speakers and the names of the topics there as well.

So once more that's page builder, summit.com come and join the fun later in. Another thing to mention very briefly is that I'm going to be at WordCamp Europe this week. If you are around and you've happened to listen to this podcast, please search me out. Probably the best way to do that would be to reach me on Twitter. DMS are open and it's at WP Builds. It would be lovely to spend some time with some of you guys.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting, that includes free domain, SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by going to go.me forward slash WP Builds. That's go.me forward slash WP Builds. And we really do thank GoDaddy Pro for their support and helping us keep the WP Builds podcast going.

Okay today, we're going to be turning our attention to the kind of tools that we might use to build a WordPress website. In fact, we decided to split the idea of tools up into two episodes. Next week, we're going to be talking about just generic tools that have got nothing to do with WordPress. So that would be. The computer and the keyboard and the monitor and all of those kinds of things. But this week we're focusing fully in on what it is that we need to get our website business going.

Now there's a little bit more to this than you might imagine. Obviously you need WordPress, but do we need to be thinking about the tools. In relation to what our clients might be using because more and more, it feels that clients want to be involved in the build. They want to be able to make edits themselves.

That's of course, why we've got a CMS. So does the tool conversation need to happen with the client? Like I said, there's a whole lot more in here and I enjoy chatting with David about this. I hope that you enjoy.

[00:03:33] David Waumsley: Welcome to another in the business boot camp series, where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish where on the first episode of season three, where we're looking at the technical build, and today we're discussing choosing our website building tools.

So Nathan and I are taking contrast in approaches to get in our new businesses running and our first clients. Built she's a new lawyer with no previous sites. She's called miss a Nathan. Shall we do a quick recap on what we're trying to do?

[00:04:11] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Very quickly. Because I think I feel that we've done these three cups cleanse a lot now, but I'm going for the traditional waterfall approach.

So my I'm trying to come from the perspective of somebody who's doing things perhaps in the old fashioned way. David has other thoughts. As you'll find out in a moment and I'm going to be offering a proposal, getting a contract, getting everything signed off and then going for it, hopefully using some of the tools we're going to discuss today.

[00:04:37] David Waumsley: Yeah. And I'm going forward an agile approach where. Really, if you like the starter of the built site is really the start of our ongoing improvements on the site. So we're looking at more kind of data-driven approaches gradually increase in the site. So think of something like Amazon, where they're constantly updated.

So that's the kind of way I'm sure. This business, I loved

[00:05:01] Nathan Wrigley: how you just snuck in there that your approach is just like Amazon. Yeah. Nice. That, that only quite modestly successful company that don't make boatloads of money. You can be as successful as Amazon I'm I'm all in on the agile.

[00:05:20] David Waumsley: Exactly. And she's very difficult to explain it all the time. It's just the opposite, isn't it? It's just a thinking where traditional as well, we'd build the end commodity and there it is. That's our job and that's how most of us have done it. And now it's trying to switch to an agile approach where you just think actually that's just the start of the process, really with all the data we can get, now we should use it and keep iteratively improving.

The way I'm trying to move to that. I

[00:05:46] Nathan Wrigley: was thinking about this the other day. And if you think about it, although the things that you buy might be done agile ways, the tooling and the technology behind it, almost everything you buy is not in any way, shape or form agile. You buy a car and it's just.

You can't ask for there to be some sort of modification. I mean you can, but it's not like you can very easily say, could we just make the engine slightly different? I'd like a bit more power to come out of the engine and you just can't do it. So we're in a interesting industry online, because we can modify things.

And what was there yesterday? Doesn't need to be what's there tomorrow. So we're very unique. I think it's

[00:06:27] David Waumsley: quite interesting talking to developers. There are some statistics on agile, which say, I think presently about 86% of all it and development projects, creative for companies are done in an agile way.

And if you talk to WordPress developers who are building out the tools, they're going well, isn't that how everybody works. You just. Progressively improving the thing, you test it out, see how it works and then you make an adjustment. Isn't that just how everything is done.

[00:06:58] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. And it's interesting because the website could be viewed a little bit like the car where it's a finished product and you hand it over to the client.

And largely that is the kind of work my clients wanted. They wanted something to be handed over to them and that was it. And then I move on to the next thing. So you're definitely trying to upset the apple cart there and persuade them that there's a different way of doing it. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah,

[00:07:21] David Waumsley: just try.

Just try and copy Amazon the success. They watched the data and they adjust according to what might get them results. So there's

[00:07:30] Nathan Wrigley: a new sales pitch. I'm going to build you a website. It's going to be just like the Amazon website. We're going to constantly tweak it and adapt it. It's funny though, because I don't really notice the Amazon website changing because it's so incremental and so small.

Occasionally they do some big thing, but on the whole Amazon this year, it looks. On the face of it as if it as it would have looked 10 years ago, which is of course nonsense it doesn't at all, but it's a thousand little things, not one giant thing. Yeah.

[00:07:59] David Waumsley: Yeah. Tiny little micro texts will get changed that will affect you.

And BBC are doing this w we're completely off topic now, but the BBC are doing that with that. I play. Changing. Yeah. So my play buttons in the center, and then it's back to the left again. So yeah,

[00:08:17] Nathan Wrigley: I have noticed that and the reason I noticed it, because it probably didn't, but it wasn't as agile as you're describing Amazon because there was a fairly big shift wasn't there.

All of a sudden, the menus moved over to the left and it happened in an instant. And I, there was a bit of dissonance there. I was thinking, hang on a minute, am I in Netflix? Or. And I had to really concentrate on it and you're right. That just toying with it all the time. I guess if you're going to change the menu, you might as well go all in though and see how people react.

Maybe we were only a proportion of the people who received that. And we all phoned in furiously to say these new menus rubbish. And so they've probably changed it back because of the.

[00:08:56] David Waumsley: This is a terrible idea. Again, we're still off topic, but on that interface, it's really interesting. Cause when it ends your program, it's got two buttons and one of them says continue.

And the other one says, see, the next episode. And to me they are the same thing. Yeah. They are the same thing that, yeah. So suddenly. How do I get out of here? Yeah, that's right. Yeah, we

[00:09:17] Nathan Wrigley: are so off topic today. Brilliant. Okay. Let's reign it in. Let's get us back to episode six, choosing our website, building to.

[00:09:26] David Waumsley: Yeah actually you we've got this wrong really because you just pointed out when we started there so that we really ought to have started this with our whole technical stack. So we're going to do that next episode, but here we're just going to try and focus on really our main builder. How would our platform, what we're going to build this site on?

Whether we decide we actually need a CMS like WordPress or whether miss a could just manage with a simple HTML CA. Style

[00:09:55] Nathan Wrigley: website. Yeah, I guess we would have figured out from the questioning, but are we working on the assumption for the sake of argument? Are we working on the assumption that miss a basically needs a brochure website with, let's say five or six pages.

They're not going to change very much. Any changes that need to be performed will probably be very simple to do in HTML. So it might be the phone number changes or something like that. And it would be relatively straightforward to find and replace the phone number in whatever HTML file.

[00:10:24] David Waumsley: Yeah, exactly. And whether, a big consideration is whether the client needs to be able to change publish themselves, change that up, that, that content. So we would have known this already, but I think, we can look at it because I just, these days, I start to think about whether I am correct in putting everybody on WordPress, on my particular page builder without really a conversation that.

For my ease on what I'm used to and now I'm starting to think is that right for

[00:10:57] Nathan Wrigley: them? Okay. So I think the ease argument is so compelling, isn't it? Because these days, especially with modern things like cloud ways and whatever system you're using, it's very easy to literally type in a domain. Press a button and within 30 seconds, that magic has happened and you've got yourself, a WordPress install.

And, you might even have that as some sort of template where it brings along all the plugins that you consistently use for the raw feed. And it is very easy for us. Isn't it? Is that a sufficient reason though? It's obviously saving you a lot of time. It saves you building things from scratch, and it's also going to be bringing along a heck of a lot of things that you may need in the future.

For example, let's just say user logging in the ability to have a state of a user logged in whether they're logged in or not, or whether they're authenticated to adapt things, modified posts and pages and whatever, all of that is built in to WordPress. And it's brilliant, but you're saying if my client doesn't need it, what's the.

[00:12:03] David Waumsley: Yeah. I'll ask you the question. So we go back to a time when we used to build HTML sites, the first sites that we built just entirely, we own the code. And when you move to a CMS, which I know wasn't WordPress initially in the first place for you what made you do that?

[00:12:22] Nathan Wrigley: So I was doing everything.

With I started out doing HTML and in tables, HTML, layups, and tables. And that was really time-consuming, but it essentially led to a brochure website. Then I started to fiddle with PHP template files, so include files so that I could have the header different to the footer. And the footer would be loaded with an include statement in the PHP.

And. And that worked very well. And I built several websites with that and it was totally fine. And then I was sitting with somebody that I worked with and he at the time was using Drupal. This is back in the day when I think it was like Drupal four. So it was pretty early on, not the beginnings of Drupal, but fairly early.

He just said, no I've given up on all of that. I just use a CMS now and I'd seen them before, but never really used them. And he totally convinced me in the space of about an hour, that this was a sensible thing to do because everything's the same, you can work consistently so long as the.

Manages to keep itself similar from day to day, week to week, year to year you'll have a foundation. And I, there was no thought in my head of the technical debt, there was no thought, or I said they won't need the user logging. They won't need all of these different things. All I was thinking was great.

That's a tool that I can use. It'll be extendable. I'll be able to add functionality and different things into the future. And I don't have to do the boring bits from scratch each time because some other system, which by the way is free. That was also a thing which has been done for me. So I can just download the latest version and keep it updated hopefully.

So that's how I began and that was Drupal. And then I've never looked back since then, and I don't really think I've built anything without a CMS since then. So let's ask you same question, but in directed towards you.

[00:14:19] David Waumsley: Yeah, it's weird because the WordPress took off with me because I wanted functionality.

I was trying to build this kind of my own version of an internet for my staff. And then I got into doing e-commerce. So it was the functionality got me in to WordPress, but the shift. Haste Hormel to WordPress is one which has been a gradual change. So initially you just thought, yeah, the clients came up and you thought, no, it's nice for them to be able to change their content.

Or my colleague, when I started doing it, professionally was doing that. She wanted to update for the clients. So she wanted WordPress. And then the early days with a simple theme, which had the lifetime deal on it, where I was still mostly working with CA. And just put in snippets in, it didn't feel like I had a dependency on WordPress.

It felt like, oh, there's just a wonderful system. You made this point before. Why reinvent the wheel? It was like, WordPress was that updated about once a year with a small update and never considered it. So it never felt like a big shift to a great dependency over recent years though. I've not really thought about it too much.

I just saw the progress to a page before. Was an upgrade on the speed. I was able to create sites and it was more convenient for clients updating whether they used it or not list another thing. But there was an improvement, but now as time's gone on and we realized there were so many. Competition. So many changes with plugins, they get acquired.

There are security issues. That's a big change with Guttenberg you realize that? Oh, actually this isn't me, not in reinventing the wheel. This is actually me committing to a dependency on. Companies for what I offer. So yeah, I've reined it. I've started to rethink a lot about how much I need to depend on them and what I tell clients and consider whether it's good for them or not.

[00:16:12] Nathan Wrigley: So if we just take that apart a little bit the bit that interested you. And probably me was that all the different things that you would have had to have built over and over again. Obviously you could have saved those away, but it's still, you would've had to have built them or downloaded files to, for example, create forms or create user logging or whatever.

The idea was that you didn't have that dependency anymore. You weren't dependent upon doing that yourself. And it was already done by the CMS, but now fast forward to 2022, the ecosystem has grown to the point where even a modest website probably requires a collection of plugins and page builders and themes.

And all of that, many of them may be commercial. Curiously we've ended up with dependent dependency, not necessarily on WordPress, which is still free, but on subscriptions to third-party services, which you are now trying to of get away. Yeah,

[00:17:16] David Waumsley: it was one thing I found quite tricky. There was, as I worked with a colleague, who'd been looking after people from she'd been in business since 2000.

So she had built some client sites and by the time we were moving, most people to WordPress was at the same time as people get in new sites because of mobiles were coming in and they needed to be mobile responsive. So they needed to do anything something anyway, and it was a big dilemma. Because they were used to the fact.

Previously you put up the website and it was just there for all time. It wasn't like a car, which depreciated once you built it, it was digital. It, you put it up and it would work in browsers for forever. And now suddenly moving them to WordPress. I didn't see it initially, but now you realize are actually the, if they want to be on WordPress, they need to get some of the benefits because there's probably likely to be some maintenance.

That's required that the guests pay for which previously they didn't. So if they need to update the content, then they get the value there. And my recent excuse for why I would use a page builder now or anything like that is because if I'm going this agile approach where we make subtle changes very quickly to adapt to information that we get about how users are using the site.

This is a really good way of doing.

[00:18:40] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. So there is still dependency. The argument that I always used to make was that you are not just alluded to it a minute ago, but th that it's extendable, you can not functionality. And so I always thought that was almost like the perfect. Pitch in that.

Okay. I can build you this, but it's going to be much cheaper if we can just download this plugin, which will cost you about $50 a year. And it will bring so much more functionality and it does 90% of. What you need and the other 10%, you probably it's just aspirational thinking. You probably never did need it anyway.

So I've managed to use that successfully on lots of occasions. Just explain. We can do so much more cheaply. If you're prepared to come along the journey of finding a plugin, which will do it for you. The other point that I used to make all the time. Which again, I think hit the target pretty well.

Was that well, it's the being hit by a bus argument. If I suddenly I'm hit by a bus and go out of existence, don't worry. Because this CMS, whether it's Drupal or WordPress or whatever, there's a whole, there's a whole range of people who can pick it up where I left off. And of course that's proven to be the case when clients and I just parted ways amicably and they've taken their website.

And I can see that somebody else's got the login details and it was modified over time and it's still using the stuff that I put in there, but somebody was able to take it and carry on. And that relationship went in a different direction. And I found that. Really persuasive, nobody pushed back on those arguments.

I'm going to push

[00:20:23] David Waumsley: back. No. Good for me say, I'm going to say, okay, we're building a largely static site. Now, if I built those out with HTML and CSS, anybody who knows hasty, Melbourne, CSS could look about and change it. Whereas if I build it with WordPress page builders and they go to somebody else who has WordPress, they get add rather rebuild this on my platform that they use and use my plugins for this Slido or carousel or whatever.

So you could argue it in the opposite way.

[00:20:55] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Okay. I get your point at this point, I'd be saying, oh, you actually. What are you, how do you know this stuff here? I'm trying to persuade you here. I am trying to pull the wool over your eyes about how amazing all of this is, how our developers can run with it and how, you can download plugin.

How do you know? Cause I never got that. I never got that level of expertise as an argument in return, but I think that's quite compelling. If somebody did come back to me, I'd probably say, okay, I'll go now. Bye bye. But they never did. And they always seem to think that those arguments and honestly, I wasn't trying to pull the wool over anybody's eyes.

It was just what I thought and it worked, but it was more a case of me trying to close the deal, I think, oh, here's another point is another reason why we should use WordPress. Here's another reason. And those ones just popped out the adding functionality, the ability to move over the fact that you're not dependent upon one particular vendor.

I even made that point. If you don't like this forms plugin, there's another one over here. If that license turns out to be too expensive, we can use a free one. It won't do as much, but it'll still work.

[00:21:59] David Waumsley: Yeah. Yeah. You know what I mean? I agree with you. I was just trying to put in a counter argument cause it's exactly the same thing.

And in fact, I remember we had this dilemma when I was working with my colleagues that, they didn't want to spend a lot of money ongoing or something. And it was like, did we build this. Beaver builder, which was just new at the time. Or do we just give them the HTML site, but almost immediately after we started doing it, they asked for things that you just thought this is a plugin that will make that easy.

I, it was that functionality. I'm not. Once it used to be the functionality, the big things, like the LMS is the. The e-commerce the events type stuff used to be their appeal of being on WordPress. You could keep adding on this really great, number of features I've moved away from that, but there still is on the small scale of things, like you say, a different forms, plugin that might connect up to a different newsletter system that you've got or whatever that's available.

It's those kinds of smaller. That keep me with WordPress and the way I've got my justification for WordPress. Now with my agile approach, I'm seeing the tech might die at some point, it's just a tool for us to get something out there and see how it's working with your target audience. And I've tried to shift the focus of what I provide as a web designer as this ongoing agile it's there.

It's a tool to watch human behavior and respond to it rather than selling the tech itself.

[00:23:34] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I really never struggled to sell the CMS argument. I think the most persuasive thing, wasn't what I've said about additional functionality or, you can take it to another developer. It was always the, you can edit this yourself.

Thing that got them interested, and I used to make the analogy of, if somebody sends you a word document, that's not set in stone, you can open it and edit it and click save and return it to them. And it's different and make the point that the website's like that. And they're always beguiled by that.

Nowadays obviously, everybody's using Facebook, those arguments. Less persuasive because that's the web 2.0. Brought about the ability to interact with the web, as opposed to just consuming it. And now it's completely normal. And that argument falls on deaf ears. Duh. Yeah. So a website should be able to change it.

What are you, what so those kinds of things, I think, yeah we're very important back in the day, but I don't think they'd be as persuasive. Yeah.

[00:24:33] David Waumsley: No. I think, my colleague used to ask her, do you want, I think that was one of the first questions she asked, do you want to be able to edit the content yourself?

And there was never the answer? No, admittedly, we didn't fairly say, but there is a downside to that. It is.

[00:24:52] Nathan Wrigley: Have you any idea what the interface will look like? It's so weird. You edit it and it looks nothing like it's going to on the front end. But curious. My experience was always was, although they wanted that ability to edit things, it was very rare that they pulled the trigger on editing things.

It was very much the case that the website would be built. I would hand it over and that would be the end of that. And then I would take phone calls to firefight or modify things, they would literally phoned me up and pay me to change the telephone. And I had shown them how to change the telephone number, but they were busy.

They had better things to do. They were out being lawyers and it was easier if I did it. So it, that, that great big argument about you can modify it yourself. Never really panned out because now that everybody's familiar with modifying things online. Yeah. It's different. Yeah, I think so.

[00:25:45] David Waumsley: And I think also things have changed with me.

So those early customers where we were doing. The website and that kind of was the end of the project. Even this they're still on my kind of hosting and care. Either, just get me to do it or they, or does it get done at all? But there are just a few where that relationship has gone on for a long time where they've got used to my page builder and they've started building out their own landing pages and stuff on the road because it's gone on for years now.

And we've done projects together for some time. So they've picked up quite a lot.

[00:26:17] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Again that's the benefit of your system? The whole agile approach. They get coached into how to do it much more so because they're making it alongside of you. For me, it was a black box. I just made it and handed over the black box and opened it in front of them.

It was like getting a Christmas present. I did a website and they were happy with that. And obviously, your model is working differently to that. There'll be able to do it and yeah. Horses for courses. It's

[00:26:45] David Waumsley: moving that way. Anyway, we were going to do a section, not, I think I've probably said some of these things, but agile versus traditional when it comes to pick in your thing.

So I I'll put my thing is that the traditional is focused on the end deliverable, which I think is a bit tricky because they control it. That is a bit of a danger for businesses. Isn't it? We're setting up a new business here and I think we have to be aware of whatever we pick as tools to get.

Website done. If they fail on those, it comes back on us when we're selling in. Yeah.

[00:27:20] Nathan Wrigley: Do you think though, that WordPress now is so mature that the failure of WordPress just seems like such a, such an impossible outcome just seems to me that we were at least five years away from that, even if the sky for.

WordPress would be being updated and the community would be doing things with it for probably a decade.

[00:27:45] David Waumsley: I think WordPress definitely is secure in that sense. I think individual, because it's such a competitive area at the moment, individual products can quickly die. We seen them. Yep. So I think that's the main risks there.

I'm going to be making your kind of Gutenberg point. I think in this one that, it is safer because I think, it is going to stick around even if it might be. Go the way that you want to with this development is going to be around for some time. And we don't know if that's always going to be the case with every new page builder that might be released,

[00:28:20] Nathan Wrigley: yeah. There are so many posts out there written by obviously corporate companies, sometimes hosting companies and plugin companies. And what have you, which provide infographics of how WordPress has grown over time. I feel that the pushback against WordPress as a CMS, not talking about the ecosystem, that's around it, but the pushback against CMS itself is almost nonexistent these days.

It's so wildly successful. It works. It's updated, it's secure, but I totally get your point about. Educating clients about, look, if we go with this particular plugin, w it's been around for a couple of years, it seems to be being created by one person may be. We want to look at that a little bit more carefully.

Those kinds of arguments discussions I think I would want to be having, it's never really bitten me too much. I've never really had a commercial plugin totally die on me as yet. I'm really trying to scrape. Brain here, my memory and think has that bit in me. And I don't actually think it has.

Have you had that? Have you had a moment where you've had to go back to a client and say, this is dead. We need an alternate.

[00:29:32] David Waumsley: No. And fortunately, because it's, I think the key thing is your main builder. The main dependency I have had things die or completely changed. So what's an example. And anti-spam plugin that that was protecting people's forms suddenly entirely changed and no longer worked and people were getting spam.

Now I could just swap that one out for

[00:29:55] Nathan Wrigley: another one. That's a good one to fail in a way. Isn't it? Because there's so many options. Yeah.

[00:30:00] David Waumsley: And then I think that's the thing where there's a lot of these kind of extra little plugins that just do something. If I'm using my page builder, I have a little mail capture, which shows me because it's not built in to keep the mail there.

I add this little plugin. If it fails, then I'll probably replace it with an alternative, these small plugins that do a small job. The client's not worried about it. So the only risk is the. The main thing that you build out there. Page mail pages where there's, of course that's not happened with me. It was Genesis and then it's been BeaverBuilder sense and they, both of them still continue to do.

[00:30:36] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, just as you were saying that I was thinking about something that I thought popped into my head and it was about a site that I built probably about six years ago. And it was for a company which needed to put their, the content that they were creating. They needed to send it off to clients and they wanted basically some kind of client portal and an intranet, if you like.

And I built a solution for them just dropping in a plugin. And I was, I said, go out and let's find a plugin together. And we found one, it was. 150 bucks a year. And it basically did everything that they needed. So we dropped that in. They got used to it, they were working with it, and I know that they were heavily using it.

And then now no longer my clients, they went off and worked with a company, much more local to them. They're over in, on the west side of the UK. And and so w we no longer communicate, but funnily enough, about three or four weeks ago, I got an email. From the developer of that plugin saying for didn't really go into the reasons, but the plugin is being multipled, they're no longer going to support it.

So although it didn't happen to me because they're no longer my clients, it happens. And presumably they are now scrambling around trying to find another solution, hopefully having received the same email from the developer. So it can happen, then it could. Pretty catastrophic. It sounds like that plugin, albeit brilliant, was being propped up by one person and the strain it would appear just got too much.

[00:32:03] David Waumsley: Yeah. And I think probably something we haven't covered as well here is the fact that it's not really about the whole system necessarily dying. I think when we rely on these kinds of tools that make it easier first to build websites, then we've got We were using more than we possibly need in our setup.

And there's more that can go wrong. So there's, those greater chances of security issues or things that would miss a site. If it's a simple HTML site in effect, in terms of the output out there, when we use some very complex builder, that's adding new stuff all the time, there's a greater chance of small things breaking.

And obviously lots of different plugins, more chance of there being incompatibilities that the client wouldn't have suffered

[00:32:53] Nathan Wrigley: before. Yeah. And I think also there's just the tempo and you probably said all of this in what you just said, but I'm going to, re-emphasize it just the temptation to put a load of things in that aren't necessarily needed because you can't.

Because it's lying around and you've used it in the past and it works, but it may not be the best solution. In this particular case, we probably should have had two clients. Shouldn't we for this whole series one where it was really complicated website and another one, miss a where it was dead simple, but this is what we've got.

Yeah, maybe thoughts about not giving into the temptation to just keep adding in plugins. Because we know that there are consequences to that in terms of speed and security and usability and all. There was

[00:33:32] David Waumsley: definitely a, we've passed by this certainly for those who are having to do this professionally for clients, I think the was, and I was definitely caught up in this where every new tool was something to look into and you felt.

Nothing was ever going to break because it ran. He did. But I think now as we get so many different competitors and it becomes difficult for people to keep up with the demand that there is to add new things to plug in. So there's more chance of security and, plug in failures as has gone on. So now we're reigning it back a bit.

Yeah. It's now trying to keep

[00:34:09] Nathan Wrigley: it simple, right? Towards the end, just right at the end, should we go through the list of things, which we would. Wantonly to every WordPress website that we do. As a bait, a bare minimum. I know my bare minimum is going to be bigger than your bare minimum, but but they go no,

[00:34:26] David Waumsley: no, I'm not.

Yeah. I'm not sure if it is. Bare minimum for me is simple. Cause I same page builder, beaver builder, and the beaver builder theme. I've done a bit. Getting rid of stuff. So I downgraded to slim SEO plugin, which is this kind of lightweight way of doing SEO because it that's the default because I don't need the stuff that others do for most of the sites.

So until I do, then that will go in. So I've changed a little bit there and I've got a caching plugin and probably they are my basics. There's a few little things that go in there. On top of things that you saw on your list there, I need some way to make sure my email delivery is working. Yeah, let

[00:35:08] Nathan Wrigley: Let's do it now then.

So my basic would be some kind of theme because I'm not using full site editing. So all of that is out. So I need some basic theme and I usually go for something like generate press or block C or something like that. Caching plugin an SEO plugin, some kind of SMT P plugin. So that. Traveler across the internet via some third party service.

Usually there's a form plugin put in there and it's usually a proprietary one that I've paid for. But I think in most cases, something like contact form seven would be adequate. And I know there's a few Gutenberg rivals that do an admirable job. And then because I'm using good and bug, I often throw in something like generate blocks some way.

Styling it and giving me some sort of structure and layout options. And those themes that I mentioned have their own mini page builders built in, with cook with hooks and conditions, you can put B not beaver builder. You can put Guttenberg sections and rows and templates in different parts of the theme whenever you need them.

So all of that would be an absolute minimum for me. So I've got way more, you've got four things I've got about six or six.

[00:36:29] David Waumsley: Oh, I'm sure there's more that I actually use, but I've definitely where I can use a snippet instead of a plugin. I will, if even with the page builder, if I can go to code pen and find something that works, I'll put the code into a hastier mal module or something like that.

I've really tried to cut down any extra plugins I do. And try and keep if you like the code base as minimal as I can until I'm told otherwise. And I didn't use to do that used to be like, wow. Let's see. Yeah. It's interesting.

[00:37:02] Nathan Wrigley: Exactly. How's that approach ever come back and bitten you because let's say for example, that you're using beaver builder or for beaver builder substitute any, anything that looks anything on our website, have you been bitten?

In other words, your. A, you may forget that you even did a snippet and you're searching around on a site from two years ago, thinking how on earth does that get there? Or also the snippet breaks something about the snippet is no longer valid. Whereas at least if you're using something that's being updated and let's hope it is some module or plugin and what have you, at least you're not having to worry about that.

And although that's putting your. You are putting faith in the developer, at least your not having to do that.

[00:37:50] David Waumsley: Yeah, I've not had an issue with snippets in WordPress. Generally only I did with commerce. It used to have quite a few snippets that you use and that kept progressing. So they broke, but that's the only exception otherwise, anything I've put in that controlled in WordPress has stayed any haste to metal elements that I've put in with CSS have stayed.

So I haven't had that issue. So I'm going to stick with that. If that fails on me and then I'll review.

[00:38:19] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Okay. That's good. So we've done our, we've done our little stack, so we've put that. Not quite yet. No, it's okay. Do you want to do, where are we up to in our show notes? So we at the proprietary versus open source.

[00:38:31] David Waumsley: Yeah. Yeah. So we should talk about that. Obviously we'll have a WordPress podcasts, so we're going to be linear towards open source, but it's quite interesting. Do you not think, I was always a big fan of open source. Partly because it allows me to add some host in as an extra service, which really keeps me afloat.

But these days in terms of. Where we're at with WordPress. I'm not sure if I see the difference, do you between proprietary and open source,

[00:39:05] Nathan Wrigley: the thing about open sources, it doesn't make it better. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's better because it's open source. So for example, there are people that use Shopify and love it, and there are people that use WooCommerce and love it.

And there'll be a mixture of people in between, the argument, which I always used to. About open source was a, it was free B it's being updated by possibly in WordPress's case, hundreds of possibly thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people. And there was always the argument about it's open-source so it's, there's lots of eyes inspecting it.

It's more secure. I guess history shows that. Possibly, certainly from the security aspect, it doesn't necessarily mean that. It doesn't mean that if something breaks, many eyes can fall on it to try and figure out what needs to be fixed. But it also means that if you're a hacker, you've got the capacity to go in and see what's broken and leverage that.

So I think my gut feeling has always been the open source is a really nice philanthropic way of doing things. And I like it. And I'm drawing. It's it feels almost like I've got a political posture there, which maybe I have, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's better. And I know for a fact that if somebody came to me and said, do you want to do, would you build me an e-commerce site?

I would be. Cause I don't want to get involved with that. I would either be saying, look, go and find somebody else that does let's say woo commerce. Or have you looked at Shopify? It's very innocent.

[00:40:42] David Waumsley: I'm in the same situation where they are. Was big fan, politically I liked the kind of movement of open source and then those early days, it did feel like that comment of not reinventing the wheel here was people sharing stuff, which you could use.

But I think now, because. That was back in the days when WordPress updated, like once a year with something based small, now you have to update. So this idea of ownership of your code, isn't really true. You have to go with the flow, you have to decide that you're going with that. And it comes down to an issue of trust.

Rarely whether you trust the open. People that you're investing in all the propriety system people really now, for me changed over time.

[00:41:30] Nathan Wrigley: Is the promise of it being open source? Is that still true? What I mean by that is okay. Everything's governed by the GPL. So if something attaches itself to WordPress, it has to be open source, but let's be honest, your client.

Miss a, she doesn't have a clue how to access the plugin file. She wouldn't know what to make of it. Even if she was looking them, looking at them on a screen, it would just be a bunch of gobbly. We had HTML and PHP techs, and it'd be like, I don't know what to do with this. And the fact that you're paying a fee.

Does this mean in a sense it's it loses a little bit of that. Doesn't it? When open source started, it was just free and it was free and it was always for everything free all the way, but now we've got proprietary built on top. So we're in a strange area where some of it's free there, CMS, and a lot of the functionality that we throw on top of it, whilst it's GPL and open source, it isn't a new kind of locked in.

[00:42:29] David Waumsley: Yeah. I always used to feel if I was more of a developer, the open source was great. Cause you could take this code that someone's done the work on, make it your own and do what you like. But actually, because it updates you can't really. And because I'm not a developer, can't really look after security myself.

So effectively for someone like me, I'm in the system where it's equal to proprietary. There is one advantage, and that is if I say I decided to go with. What flow? Yeah. If I was locked in and they decided that they were going to charge me a whole load of money, that I really, my business couldn't stand.

I'm stuck where even with the premium plugins that I've got for open source, that GPL does protect me. Just mean, I can say to a friend, can you lend me yours? And I will install an update that way. And stay in business. So the developer doesn't get the money, but he still gives me this. If the developer hasn't been fair to me, I've still got a route to be able to deliver that.

Yeah. Yeah. That's

[00:43:32] Nathan Wrigley: yeah. That's a very good point and very, yeah, I think that makes sense. But it does feel as if we're in like halfway house between free and proprietary, somewhere in the middle and yeah, every time you throw in a new commercial plugin, you are moving more. So in some respects and it does feel like our sites are to a great extent locked in, and that's why people do whole care plan.

The client realizes they're locked in and, they know that they've got to be paying all this money because of security and updates and bloody. But yeah. Yeah, it's curious. My, like I said, my instinct is I love the open source movement. I have strong memories when anything commercial inside open source a dirty word.

The idea of paying for anything was just totally taboo. It was just all, all free. And we're definitely moving away from that model. Every, you are now able to build multi-billion dollar businesses on top of free.

[00:44:35] David Waumsley: It's a little bit scary, I think, because in some ways everybody was very tentative about charging anything for an add-on to open source because it was open source.

And then we may be gone a little bit the other way, whether, so a little bit of overconfidence about what you can charge for the value of that. Gates the pitfalls of the updates and the conflicts and stuff like that. So there's this, I think we're all still finding a balance. And I think certainly I am in terms of looking at these tools and how I present them to clients, because I think so much has changed over recent years.

I see WordPress entirely different to the way that I used to do.

[00:45:14] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. Let's move on to what is now our last section? Cause we've done what our little stacks are. This. Yeah. The debate of our era, the debate time, third party, page builders versus Gothenburg. This debate has been hard by many people all over the place.

What are you going to sell to your a, which one would you be telling her to get?

[00:45:35] David Waumsley: Because she's coming to me and I've got my builder that I know, and I've got. Argument for why it's because of the ongoing work. So I'm going to stick with my builder and explain why I think it's quite good, cause it's fairly stable for them.

But so I'm sticking with my third party for what I'm actually doing rather than embracing Guttenberg. But for me Gutenberg now is just another page builder option in my. Is that how you see it or, yeah, I

[00:46:08] Nathan Wrigley: guess, I guess you, you are very confident about the future of BeaverBuilder and quite rightly I don't think the developers there have misstepped at all. We see no reason why that's not a decent. Flag to plant in the ground. I'm going to use beaver builder and I'm going to be using it for years to come. Seems like a solid thing. I guess one of the arguments that you could make is that should something go awry there, at least if you've been using Gutenberg you, I should take Gutenberg.

Shouldn't I know that's the correct way, but anyway, forgive me. If you are using a Gutenberg, you at least don't have to worry about that. We do seem to be having a groundswell of interesting new things happening there. Lots of blocks that are coming out. Maybe they do one thing. Maybe it's a pack of blocks and yeah, sure enough.

Maybe we're in the same territory that we were with plugins where we could have overload and a gazillion blocks bloating up a website, but like you have. You would get to the point, hopefully where you realize the ones that you need and the ones that you don't, but at least it's going to be supported.

And there's a really new and interesting trend at the moment of people building blocks, which extend core blocks. So for example, they might add styling options to the paragraph block, or they might add options to the image block where you can add, rounded corners instead of it just being all round or all square.

And I those because they take something which is already there, which is very minimal and they modify it a bit. And the. I guess would be that if any of those broke, you could either find a replacement or at the very worst you would just be back to the core block. Maybe that's naive. I don't know.

[00:47:58] David Waumsley: No, but I think, I guess I made the point as well earlier about the fact that, WordPress is safe. It's going to be around a long time. Good to burgers. Now in core, it's going to be around a long time. It's probably the safest option in those terms. However, I think what stops me now, partly because I've already learned one system and it seems there's no actual reason to move at the moment other than a few.

That they might not be around and I don't particularly have that fear, so I'm sticking with it, it's now it's a very difficult thing to do. And I think, as well, if the kind of ad-ons, if you like for, and the ones that come out earlier on generate blocks and cadence, and those kinds of things as well, effectively, because they've gone their own group with things like full site editing that they've almost become like page builders.

They are independent. The main court Gutenberg. So it's, I don't think it matters. What I'm trying to move to is the fact that we're going to make a decision. I'm going to say why I think I work with this one and that's largely, I'm going to say to clients these days is because I'm used to it and I can make changes quicker.

But it's a tool. It's a tool in what we do. And it doesn't really matter where, it's always going to be a gamble. There's always likely to be some kind of change.

[00:49:22] Nathan Wrigley: You've circled right back perfectly to the very beginning of the podcast where we talked about why WordPress and you've just reiterated well, because I can do this with this tool.

It's easy for me. You'll understand it. We'll get things done more quickly. And that to me seems like a totally compelling argument. If, if you're going to say to a client I'd like to try out this new tool. It will mean that I'm going to be spending probably three times longer than I would ordinarily, but you know what?

It'll be a nice new adventure for me. Isn't that nice. They're not going to say yes to that. What they want is a site and they want it building quickly and they want you to be confident in the tools that you've got. So the bottom line for this episode, I think. Whatever works for you. It's a bit sitting on the fence now, isn't it.

But it's true. If you've got a stack that works stick with it, make it minimal. Don't over bloat it and stick with the things which you can work with. If that's Gutenberg. Yay. If it's a page builder, yay. Whatever. If you want to hard code it all and do the CMS yourself. Yay so long as you can persuade the client that they're getting value for money, you've achieved your.

[00:50:29] David Waumsley: Yeah. It's trying to match it as well. Of course, too, we always come back as well to skills as well. You whichever sort of page builder you buy it's I liked the idea of keeping it simple. So as I quite liked now to get back to doing some CSS, so I felt more independent and that then I don't need so many gadgets.

But you might do because your changes or your types of websites require more. So I think those all judgments to make with it, there's often a tendency. Isn't there to think there might be some best builder with the best future, and I don't necessarily see it that way. There's only going to be best for your circumstances.

You always have to get back to what you're trying to achieve. Yeah. Think the client, it always

[00:51:15] Nathan Wrigley: feels like the environment. In certain wings of the media is constantly trying to tell you here's the next best thing. The next best thing is only the next best thing. A if it really truly is. And B if you've got the time to make it something that you are understanding instinctively, if you've got muscle memory of how to build a website with beaver builder, and then you go to elemental, be prepared to spend several days, possibly weeks figuring that stuff out until it's muscle memory.

And if that's time well spent. Great. But if it's. Then carry on as normal. I think you're right. It is a bit of snake oil. Isn't it? There's the perfect tool. Always around the

[00:51:53] David Waumsley: corner. Yeah. Yes, indeed.

[00:51:56] Nathan Wrigley: Should we be on the head there?

[00:51:58] David Waumsley: Yeah, I was just going to say the same thing. So the next time we're gonna add in the thing that you discussed our tech stack.

Really? What, how we go? We're talking more generally. Aren't we

[00:52:10] Nathan Wrigley: like the stuff that's sitting on your desk. The things you actually have bought and using on a day-to-day basis. So it might be the computer, the operating system, the, I don't know the screen that you've bought or the, whatever it might be. All right. So I'll see you in a couple of weeks. Yeah. Lovely. I hope that you enjoyed that episode. It's always a pleasure to chat with David Waumsley about these things. If you think we missed anything out, if you think we missed the target or you've just got any commentary, please head over to WP Builds.com. Search for episode number 281. And leave us a comment there. Or you can always go to our Facebook group WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook. And leave a comment there.

The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro. GoDaddy Pro the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain, SSL and 24 7 support. Bundle that with The Hub by GoDaddy Pro to unlock more free benefits to manage multiple sites in one place, invoice clients and get 30% off new purchases. You can find out more by going to go.me forward slash WP Builds. That's go.me forward slash WP Builds. And we do thank GoDaddy Pro for helping us to keep the WP Builds podcast going.

Okay. We will be back next week. We'll have an interview at that point, but remember if you're at WordCamp Europe and you fancy hooking up, maybe mention me on Twitter at WP Builds and we'll see what we can arrange.

We've also got our, this weekend WordPress show. Don't forget that comes around every Monday, 2:00 PM. UK time. So we'll be back in time for that. Okay. The only thing that remains for me to do is to fade in some cheesy music, which I'm about to do and say, stay safe, have a good week. Bye-bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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