299 – When the client turns web designer (although we hardly talk about that)

‘WordPress Business Bootcamp’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley

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

We are at the end of season 4. A short season looking at training clients.

Today we are talking about when the client turns into a web designer!

We are 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.

Episode 4. When the client turns web designer (although we hardly talk about that)

Want to get your product or service on our 'viewed quite a lot' Black Friday Page? Fill out the form...

WordPress encourages it, so should we aid clients with training, or discourage it?

This is taken from the wordpress.org homepage:

Build simply. Create any kind of website. No code, no manuals, no limits.

Design without a designer. Photo carousels, tiled image galleries, maps, forms – add them to your site with a click and know they’ll look great.


But almost all the page builders highlight the simplicity of code, and skill free web design.

Our professional tools are sold to the public with increasing success as amateur tools. Surely training is all we have left!

Traditional vs Agile

Traditional with fixed price for a finished project. Clients ruining their existing builds, or getting stuck can be a great source of income. But also it is effectively selling WordPress?

Agile. Ongoing teamwork with website interactions based and other changes in user behaviour.

Amateur DIY’ing would be insulting in an agile team. The tech used matters less.

Different WordPresses?

The CMS used by devs and the new page builder democratizing publishing further with code free page building.

We quoted the words from wordpress.com is org any different?

Dream it, build it. That’s the beauty of using blocks. See exactly how your site will look in real time, even as you add, edit, and rearrange your content. Create any kind of custom site with intuitive editing, flexible design tools, and powerful features to manage it all.


Do we think it delivers on this? Page builders certainly do!

And this:

Build for yourself, not by yourself Whether you’re an entrepreneur, professional developer, or first-time blogger, there’s a library of resources and learning tools ready for you. Plus, you have the whole WordPress community in your corner.


There are a lot of WordPress developer memes which are unfair to the custom theme and block developer. But they are probably not bothered, as they have clients paying enough to know the value of custom.

Those of us who could build static sites without WordPress are not so obviously skilled to the client now.

Does Gutenberg pushes that more?

Many page builders were serving the designer needing to use custom CSS. Gutenberg is pushing that to json files. The Gutenberg block classes have been changing, making it unsafe to build on that way.

The Page Builder crowd, which has driven pretty much all WordPress’ growth over the last 4-5 years, are going to struggle to move over.

The JAMStack challenge

JamStack is becoming my new direction (to not solely depend on WordPress) and so will influence how I see things. Presently starting to work with https://astro.build/. In the content of this chat, this is becoming my way to highlight my skills to clients and reset their perceptions.

It’s not a WordPress v JamStack thing. Only Matt Mulenweg seemed to make it one, by calling Jamstack a regression. Moving the JS and adding the rest API sort of moves WordPress towards Jamstack.
On their website:
“Pull content from anywhere and serve it fast with Astro’s next-gen island architecture.”
I have no idea what that means!!!!


I have no experience with this, really! It all seems like another weird layer, though. Imagine all of this on the Wix website! It’s another thing to worry about. Getting it right and the consequences of getting wrong!

On their website:

“Pull content from anywhere and serve it fast with Astro’s next-gen island architecture.”

I’m not 100% sure what that means!


Yeah, it is difficult to get your head around after years of using a LAMP stack CMS. I completely missed the point. In fact, I think the JAMStack is still finding its way, but it is a response to how much technology has changed, particularly how it no long makes sense to have the traditional server.

Matt was right about the need to adopt JS.


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

Welcome to the WP Builds podcast. You have reached episode number 299 entitled When the Client Turns Web Designer in Brackets. Although we hardly talk about that, it was published on Thursday the 13th of October, 2022. My name's Nathan Wrigley and in a few short minutes I'll be joined by my good friend David Wamsley, so that we can chat about the subject in.

but before then, a couple of bits of housekeeping. The first thing to mention is that our Black Friday page is up and running. We do this every single year, and typically we get hundreds of deals sent to us by WordPress businesses, so that could be themes, plugins, blocks, hosting, all sorts of things. We.

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It's WP Builds.com/black. One more time. WP Builds.com/black if you want to submit your deal. Go to that page and click the big blue button and you can add your deal. It's completely free to do that. And there are several sponsor slots right at the top of that page. And if you're interested in getting your product or service seen right away on that page, then go to the page and in the sponsors area, over the top, there are some yellow buttons and you can find out more.

We'd love to have you on. So that's WP Builds.com/black. Bookmark that for the upcoming madness of Black Friday. The only other thing to mention is WP Builds.com/subscribe. Over at that page, you'll be able to join us on all of our channels. We've got our YouTube channel, Twitter, which is at WP Builds and various other places.

Plus there's a couple of newsletters you can sign up to. And if you do that, we'll let you know When we produce new content. Typically that's on a Thursday. That's the podcast you're listening to now. And we also do our, this week in WordPress show. We do that live every Monday, and then it's put out as a podcast episode on a Tuesday.

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Okay, so this episode it's a bit of tongue in cheek. It's entitled When the Client Turns Web Designer, and then in brackets, although we hardly talk about that, the intention very much was to talk about the new direction of WordPress. The fact that it's got basically a page builder in Gutenberg. If you look at the way that WordPress is positioning itself, phrases like Build Simply Design without a designer.

If you go to wordpress.org, you can find those phrases. Perhaps we are in the era of. Technical users being able to do everything they want to do without the need for third party page builders and so on and so forth. So the pretense was to talk about that, but then we went down this rabbit hole about Jam Stack and various other bits and pieces which are related, but somewhat tangential.

It's a fun conversation. I always love chatting to David. If you've got any commentary, please leave it at the bottom of the post search for 200 [email protected]. Or you can go to our Facebook group and leave us a comment. I hope that you enjoy it.

[00:04:19] David Waumsley: Welcome to another in the Business Boot Camp series where we relearn everything we know about building WebPress sites and run in a web design business from start to finish.

We're at the end of season four, which is a short season looking at trading clients, and today we are talking about when the client turns web designer. Nathan and I are taking contrasting approaches to getting our new businesses running and our first client. Built. She's a new lawyer with no previous site.

And Nathan, we rambled on for so long before we press record on this one. So yes, we could go off in many different directions. I think

[00:04:54] Nathan Wrigley: we probably will ramble on again. But this kind of, this this episode kind of fits the bill perfectly because we have this new client. We really don't know what her level of involvement is gonna be.

I would assume being a lawyer. That she miss A is going to be incredibly busy lawyering. So I would imagine there's not much scope in her calendar to get into web design, but depending on which client you end up with, it may be that they want to get really involved. And You've got this, you've got this dichotomy.

How much do you pull them in and explain how everything works and let them go to town designing things for themselves, or how much do you lock them out and make sure that they don't touch anything and ruin anything?

[00:05:40] David Waumsley: Yeah. And as we're rethinking, when we started. Partly people came to us because we had these H C O L CSS skills that they didn't have, and now, and particularly in WordPress, we're moving much more forward to the idea of the code free solution that.

People can adopt to do it themselves. And we'll talk about this a little bit more because how that's highlighted. So yeah we again, have to question what type of business that we are doing. Are we somebody who says, look, this is just our tools that we use and client you can keep out or do we, as some people have for almost built businesses on building the site for people and then on ongoingly teaching them to do everything that they might need to do with this software that.

You provided for them.

[00:06:29] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. It's gonna be interesting. I think that the truly things like page builders for people like you and I, Yeah. Because we've been in there so many times. It really is instinctive. You know where everything is and you can make the modifications that. Are suggested almost with your eyes closed, you know where everything needs to be and all of that.

But I, I still think even with page builders, there's still a bit of a disconnect between how it works Yeah. And how easy it is. So despite the fact that the client doesn't need to know css, doesn't need to know JavaScript, doesn't need to know html, any of that. I still think for many people, the void. It's being practically easy for them.

And the level of skill that you and I have both developed with our page builder of choice is wide enough a chasm that they're not going to want to play with it. Certainly that was my experience. They implied that, Oh, that's great. Look how easy it is.

And yet the phone still rang with, Would you just change the title for me? Yeah. Because, they're just not that invested in it. Really just saw it as a website, which it was my job to create and they're on some sort of maintenance plan, so I fixed that for them when they want it fixing.

So easy for us to use, but potentially not as easy for clients to use as we would like to believe.

[00:07:53] David Waumsley: Yeah and most page builder advertising who does, who do that very well, are very good at selling the idea that, you can just drag and drop your way there. But performance and responsivity and different browser support all is all stuff that is baked into us.

We know we're thinking that while we're making changes where a client would be completely unaware. Changes they've made could be actually given their users, a poorer experience. Yeah. So I've done an about turn completely on this, and this is why this whole series has been interesting for me.

Just talking about these things from beginning to end has just got me feeling that I was doing a lot of stuff wrong and much of it was about, and particularly with the page builders, it was a selling. For them that they could go in and do so much more. And I was much more for the idea of encouraging the that as something I'd build the site with them and then train them as much as they wanted to to take on, in order to be as self-sufficient as they felt they needed to be.

And I've had to roll that back completely.

[00:09:00] Nathan Wrigley: Why was that? Was there some sort of, moment in time where it became obvious that was a poor decision?

[00:09:08] David Waumsley: Yeah, I think more recently, and it is a result of people coming into organizations where I've built the site, so the original relationship and the agreements are not there and somebody else has come in with their expectation, and I think this is where, because of this kind of code free movement that we've got going through, they come in.

But it could have been true of WordPress anyway. So recently somebody who's now taken over the role of looking after the website literally came to me about a custom site, which is quite complex and. Could we change out the WordPress theme to making something more modern from her understanding of WordPress?

That's all that needed to be done. In fact, not at all case. It was impossible to be done. And I think, I'm seeing more of that. I'm seeing, because again, somebody else has took over, went in and changed much of their site, never thinking. That they could be doing damage. I think their perception of the web and where it might be is that if they've got a log to somewhere and there's some tools there, that's all they need to know.

It should be simple. So

[00:10:08] Nathan Wrigley: they had understood that WordPress was a theme based cms and therefore, They were deploying the word theme as in, can we just change the theme and that will solve our problems. We'll just get a new modern theme, or whatever it was. And it was as simple as clicking a button, downloading something, and everything would be okay, that there was no thought, that there was granular work to be done, and things needed to be changed on a page by page basis or whatever.

[00:10:37] David Waumsley: Yeah, I think they viewed it as, I've no real experience of WS and that, but that kind of sells itself on you really. You've got a template and there's a limit to what you can do with that template. So I think they felt they were probably safe to go into WordPress because I think it's. For some people that's what it is.

And it's not for us . Yeah. Yeah. And I think, that's for me, that's made me roll back. But I was saying to you, wasn't I the heart of all of this was getting back, rethinking. As we're doing over this one, it's got me back to why I do website builds, and I very much with the agile thing that I've gone forward is about this ongoing improvements to the site.

So I want something stable that we improve together with the client, how we might be able to achieve their business names and improve their website over the longer period.

[00:11:28] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, so it wasn't really a case of. Calamitously, no catastrophic errors being made by clients who had let, who you'd let loose inside the page builder.

It was more that you've thought that, okay, there's a possibility for that and wouldn't it be better if I was in control of this from the start? Yeah, there's a couple of things there. Firstly, that is quite a big change around, isn't it? Cuz for a lot of this series. We've been talking about that from a different perspective, where you were encouraging people to do that and you've had a shift, which is cool when you come to those realizations, it's nice within your own business to realize, actually, do you know what, It's okay for me to change what I do because it's my business.

So that's one thing. And the second thing is I wonder how much of this sort of stuff is a product of the way WordPress has Slowly over time, Certainly more recently. Begun to pivot itself not as a, code coded solution for building a WordPress, come along and enjoy the code and create websites.

Now it's more come along, click buttons and you'll have a website without any code or experience whatsoever.

[00:12:38] David Waumsley: Yeah, we were taking a look at webpress.com and.org and they, it's had a redesign, isn't it, for.org? And it really has, it's

[00:12:49] Nathan Wrigley: a significantly different page. You drew some interesting conclusions.

There was a couple of things that you noticed on that page, though, weren't there?

[00:12:55] David Waumsley: There was particularly one of the slogans of WordPress has been code is poetry and we notice it's now in the photo and very much faded out. And instead it's very much about dream it and build it. And it's the same with.

If we go over to wordpress.com, which is effectively the same set of tools we've got, you don't actually, what are the lines? I've forgotten what they are. They actually, Yeah. Unfortunately, I'm

[00:13:22] Nathan Wrigley: logged into WordPress other minute, so if I go to wordpress.com, I can't actually see it. But it was something like build simply.

Yeah, build designed with our designer. Something like.

[00:13:33] David Waumsley: Design without a designer is in there. So yeah, that's very much on that one. It's so you can see there's a move towards the code free. That's the mission. And that does have an impact I think, on the perception of WordPress and we can only go with it or go against it.

Can I say something just about, cuz in some way I may be miscommunicated. You say, I may be reverted on what I was saying earlier. I'm still very much with the agile of the client being involved in the design. So we work through how that might get designed together. What I want to stop is this, there seems, if I'm gonna have a long ongoing relationship with them, there's no real need for them to go in and do things, which I'd be better at doing.

Yeah. Because we've got this. Term relationships. So in some ways I've not reverted on my agile approach, it's part of it. But what I have done is when I was project based, I used to think it was a selling thing. I'll build on the site, I charge 'em for that. And then you've got this wonderful tool here where you can go and do it for yourself.

Isn't that great? And now I'm thinking actually, you make a lot of mistakes if you go into that tool. And what's the point? I'm gonna stick around. Let me just do that. Yeah,

[00:14:44] Nathan Wrigley: okays. Yeah. So it's not quite a size because I'd implied Yeah, I get it. Yeah. No, makes sense. Yeah. So do we think that WordPress is wordpress.com?

wordpress.org is pivoting to the point where people are assuming it's like a wicks and a square space, and so you can come along and everything's dead simple because I'm not sure that word. Dot com org. Dot org is at that point. Yeah, I don't think in, in terms of simplicity and ease of use, I don't think it can make that pitch yet, although it certainly

[00:15:16] David Waumsley: seems to be.

Yeah, you made a really good point to me earlier and it's something which Matt Mullenweg has stated publicly a couple of times in this kind of addresses just recently, in fact. And that was about the audience for webpress.com. Yeah, so

[00:15:35] Nathan Wrigley: my understanding and never know the data might be out of place now is that wordpress.com, despite the fact that I view WordPress as a website building tool.

So let's just be clear. A website, headers, footers, pages, posts, archives, all of that. And you can make it look however you like. It would appear. A significant amount of people are using it still as a tool for creating posts. So if you like a blogging platform, and we both know that WordPress has been trying to shed that idea that's all it's useful for blogging, custom, We've got custom post types and fields and all of that kind of stuff.

You can do anything with WordPress, let's be clear on that. But it would appear that a significant proportion, possibly even the majority, Of people on.com and I don't know about on do org, are still just keen to throw a theme on there and create content on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and have that Yeah.

Index in an RSS feed and put on search engine pages and all of that. And that's what they want. They just want a method of creating posts and the whole website piece isn't really what they want. They don't want a brochure with, brochure site within about us page in a contact form. They just want a way of throwing out their.

Their content into the world.

[00:16:55] David Waumsley: Shows you what, who they attract, because I wouldn't have thought, that I think the quote is over 50% who are using it essentially for blogging on webpress.com. I wouldn't have thought of all the people who needed to publish online that bloggers were anything close to that.

20% are best. So I should think, WordPress is, hasn't shed, it's in the wider public it's name as a blogging platform or these admin platform? Yeah,

[00:17:23] Nathan Wrigley: It's absolutely fascinating to me because I really don't view it as a blogging platform anymore. I really do view it as a tool to create websites, and so for me working with clients, it was all about the pages.

Creating the about, So honestly, I was in the, I was in the ad new page section 10 times more than I was in posts. In fact, to the point where I think the majority of my clients, there's a blog, it's in there that comes free. It's. There for the ride, you can't really strip it out a WordPress, but they weren't making use of it, so that's absolutely fascinating.

I just didn't see it as that kind of a tool. But it does give you an indication, ma, maybe, of why things like themes have stuck around for so long and why it's difficult for WordPress to transfer over to something that's not a blogging platform. The friction that Gutenberg has created in the space and also things like full site editing.

Yeah, seems that most people don't really need to make use of that. The theme was enough. They just need something which looks pretty, and and works. They click a button. Headers and photos are taken care of by the theme. They just click publish on the post. And if that's what most people are using it for, I can better understand why the Gutenberg and full sight editing piece has been so difficult to transit.

[00:18:47] David Waumsley: Yeah. And I think, even before we knew the name Gutenberg Matthew wanted the state of the words going back maybe six, seven years ago or more was mentioned. It was highlighting the growth in things like w so accommodating that demand for build it your. Yourself and very much it's even if it hasn't achieved it yet, it's taken it, that approach.

And that's a bit of a threat to what we do because it's essentially a message that's saying, You don't need us. . Unless you, and we were talking about this earlier. Do you highlight to compensate that? Do you go from a more visual design and say, That's what I supply and you can't get.

You would, you can't get something custom and that it doesn't matter at all that we use WordPress. It's just my choice. It could be any you've really bought me in for this beautiful design, or you are a marketer again, where you don't the platform neutral to a certain degree. It's really about the process and how you reach people.

And you use the website as a tool in that marketing. Yeah. Both of those people escape, don't they? This kind of where platform's going. Doesn't matter so much to us, it does a bit more

[00:20:01] Nathan Wrigley: for me, it was ever since the advent of page builders that was a real godsend because as I said, I was creating pages more than posts.

Yes. And I know that, things like Beaver Builder came out with theme so that you could do archives and all of that incredible stuff that. Ended up being possible. But it was really just a tool for me being able to create pages more quickly and without the hassle of getting an IDE open.

I could do things more quickly by clicking buttons on the screen and, templates that I'd save previously, I could reuse and so on. And that's, that was all that I wanted WordPress to be. I think I still, yes, I still. In my head, I still don't see it really as a blogging platform, even though that's what most people are using it for.

And so when I was pitching to people like Madam A, it really was, okay, we can create, I'll do you a five page website for this amount of money. And then the conversation very rarely arose as to can I create. Posts and, put out a blog. It just basically never came up. I used to add it as a bit of an add on in, which seems like a bit of a cheap way of doing it, but this is what I used to do.

I used to add in the fact that there was a blogging functionality was built in. I basically would say I'd build you a website and also oh, for free. Along comes a blogging platform and it was a line item. Nobody ever, I think, made any use of it

[00:21:33] David Waumsley: parti. There is a bit now, and this is a challenge because I've gone this way I'm gonna preface this with a bit of my history.

2007 I adopted WordPress. I started with HTML and css and I got it because it got all these plugins that I could do stuff and I built an internet and eCommerce shop. Wow. It was just amazing. Yeah, that I could do that. As a non programmer, you move to page builders, suddenly I can speed up my work and give clients an even better experience to update their stuff.

Wonderful. Yep. Now we're moving along and I look at my workload and this will be true of Miss A. And we say, Okay, probably. For the foreseeable, she's just going to have what is in effect a HTML CSS site. Now we've got all this baggage of this lamp stack that we have to maintain and support and have a server for , and we have all the up.

Dates that need to be done to all the plugins that have allowed us to build this site very quickly and offer this, is that the way forward? And I've been questioning this a little bit for certain types of work, so I would be saying there's a challenge to WordPress or at least all of those kind of CMSs, not just WordPress.

And that's the kind of jam. Approach and I think that's really caught my interest recently. I didn't understand it initially, but it really gets back to the idea of if it is just html, serve up HTML and serve 'em up to a global cdn. No need for a server do it that way. Okay.

[00:23:04] Nathan Wrigley: A couple of things from that.

Firstly, you'll have to explain what a jam stack is. I think ,

[00:23:08] David Waumsley: Yes, I will, won't I? So Jams stack it's really a difficult term. There was a kind of movement, if you like, and then it had to be given a name and Jams Stack was it. And it stands for a JavaScript, APIs and markup. And effectively it's not even a stack because it's the idea that as the web developed browsers, Have really come on, CSS has come on, but JavaScript particularly because of the ability now to, if you like combine it with a programming language so it can now do your dynamic stuff without needing something like PHP running on the server.

So there's been this kind of movement, if you like, that's challenged against it. But for my side of it, when I look at the. HTML site initially, I think I could build that and I could directly make it on VS. Code a free tool, build the HTML back as it was. Put that to GitHub, it works as a backup version control, send it out to a cdn, which means I probably won't even need to pay for my hosting.

Yeah. It's something like nfi. Why do I not do that? The big thing was going back to the early, the reason I came into WordPress was that all of this dynamic stuff and you go now that dynamic stuff can be done in the browser itself with JavaScript, and I could pull somebody in to come and put that stuff in for.


[00:24:35] Nathan Wrigley: Let's just unpick this a little bit cuz this is you. This is quite a transformation occurring here. Isn't that we're talking about stripping out WordPress all together and using something entirely different, this jam stack that you've just described. So first thing what would be the criteria, let's say that Miss ACOMs to you and says let's take two scenarios.

In the first scenario, she wants a website which has got five pages and they. They're basically never gonna change. It's just a simple brochure site. Possibly there's a contact form on there, but that's about it. It's stead simple. So that's scenario number one. In scenario number two, she wants I don't know, she wants a blog.

She wants to be able to update it quickly herself. She wants to be able to have the capacity to throw in, I don't know, a booking system and possibly to sell some products online and all that kind of stuff. So I'm, What I'm trying to say here is I'm giving you two different options. Do they both fit in your Jams Stack model or are you going to WordPress for one of those and not

[00:25:34] David Waumsley: for the.

I think, I think you could go skill my skill level, which is what brought me into WordPress in the first place. I'm no good at, I'm not a program. I can't do the dynamic stuff, so I've got two options. If somebody's coming in with a client where they might need a lot of stuff, I'm probably at this point definitely gonna start and make my soul thing WordPress.

But what it isn't really one versus the other because. . Another way of looking at WordPress is that it is now an API through the REST api. Yeah. You can use it to put in your data, your field, your do. And as we've seen with the headless movement, you can then output that to a gem stack anyway, so it isn't.

One or the other, but for me it would be, And Jams Stack does allow this option to say, Okay, I don't need necessarily to run with all the plugins, and that's something like a million lines of code for, and then my HTML on top of it. I can just simply serve up the html, but because it's component based, I could bring in what I needed, including.

WordPress if it needed some major data solution as well. Some way to be able to put that kind of stuff in. So it's, I just think it's a really interesting challenge and certainly one that's recently been making me think about the kind of future and what you might offer a client like Miss a.

[00:26:56] Nathan Wrigley: Okay so the everything's possible.

You've got the REST api, you can do almost anything if you've got the technical expertise and time to figure all that stuff out. Yeah. What about the piece though, where she says she wants to edit it

[00:27:08] David Waumsley: herself? Okay. Yeah. Again, this is the thing about it. You ca you go back to the HTML and now there are a range of CMS choices.

Some of them may be very simple. People who coined the phrase Gem Stack are ly five people and they have a little simple CMS that you can just plug in. So you put a little line in the code and say, make this editable in your html. And then you go into your own net fire account and you set up something so you can, client can go in and they can change this field.

So effectively you could add in the cms, which is appropriate to the job. As it's needed. I'm really selling GEMS Stack here, aren't they? ?

[00:27:51] Nathan Wrigley: No, I think it's quite interesting cuz obviously you, your eyes have been diverted by that. I wonder for me, I'm probably not gonna go down that route just because of the additional complexity and also I I'm embedded in the WordPress community. I love all that sort of stuff, and I love all of the simplicity and I, I think that you are gonna be spending a lot of time exploring all of that, and it'll be really exciting. I'm yet to be convinced because I haven't spent the amount of time that you have as to whether or not that, The technical requirements of all of that is, is just a little bit too much for me at this point.

Whether I can be bothered to put the time into it and whether or not it's gonna be give, would it give me a return or all of that time, and so on and so forth. But it sounds like it sounds like you are really into it in given certain scenarios.

[00:28:39] David Waumsley: I think, there might be some cases where it's useful to have that extra bow you, extra string to your bow.

And I think, the, for me at this moment it's like I've only done solely WordPress and I just think, yeah, do you know what the circumstances where simple HTML site, the matter work sometimes you have to do to make sure the performance is right. Add in on top of that CDN.

Can create your own problems where you could send it directly. There's a lot of, there's a lot of solutions to problems that we have in WordPress when the site is simple, yeah. But there's also a lot of complexities as you point out about going down that route. You, it's really not for somebody who doesn't want to go back to that HTML and css.

But if you do what ultimate control you have, particularly if I was gonna an agile approach, it means that I add in. Only what is needed. And I think that's the philosophy around the Jams stack. It's to get back to what has always been the case. Why HTML isn't a program in language, is because of the principles of Keep it simple, stupid , but it defines everything, doesn't it, for the web. But if you don't keep things stupid, people make it more complex than it needs to be. Somewhere along the line, there's a problem to that. So if you only need to serve html, that's what you should serve. And in some ways that's the counter to the WordPress argument.

You could argue that's got overly complex in what you need to maintain, but as I say, it's not either one or the other. Really, I don't think with this one, it's an option for some sites, if you've got the skills. Also doesn't, there's no way there's gonna be an easy route like you've got with WordPress to be able to shove in some extra dynamic stuff.

Do you

[00:30:29] Nathan Wrigley: see a point in your future then where WordPress is literally no longer a part of your your weapons of

[00:30:39] David Waumsley: choice? Yeah, absolutely. I think that could happen, but I think it'll just, I think it's interesting to look at this and, but rather than just a challenge but as another option to look at.

Cuz I think the debates in it are quite interesting and I think having that sort of wider overview, cause I've be very much, Absolutely. It's been WordPress all the way since 2007. Yeah. And it's not like I'm turning away from it. Yeah. Say I'm gonna need to get a new cohost, David.

What the heck? Yeah, . Exactly. I'm off. I'm good to JAMstack.

[00:31:12] Nathan Wrigley: That's right. We'll have to do the jam. Builds

[00:31:14] David Waumsley: podcast or something ? No, I just think it's an interesting challenge and one that I misunderstood and I don't think it's one that is excluded from WordPress. WordPress is a very complex CMS that a lot of people know and love and they can use it as We are seeing more with a lot of the headless stuff, and I think automatic are actually funded some of the stuff that's looking into that.

So it isn't one or the other, but in terms of me looking at. Client like Miss A, and if I'm going the Agile, where I go step by step, I want a stable base, a HTML base, which I understand and can control, which I can't necessarily if it's coming through a plugin, which is making its own decision and having to serve new clients who want different things to me.

There is. That it certainly is a way that I should look at

[00:32:07] Nathan Wrigley: Just go back cuz I'm not sure that we drilled down, I dunno how we've ended up talking about jumps stack when this is supposed to be all about, clients things, but I'm fascinated, so let's keep going. How what is the, what's the kernel of why you are exploring all of this?

Is it speed? Is it's cheaper, Is it better? In terms of resources? What's the.

[00:32:31] David Waumsley: What's the deal? What got me I guess the agile thing, getting back to that idea that what I'm interested in is what the web could do for people, and I want this long term relationship, so this ongoing add in to it.

And that coupled with great changes. In. To a certain degree we're all having to rethink our stack because of Gutenberg. Do we jump on it? Do we work against it? Do we, And I've just thought I don't actually know , right? So what I'm gonna do is think, while, I don't know, I will go back and just get to some of the basics cuz I realized.

Page builders made me very lazy. One of the skills I had, which was a bit of CSS and html, so I revisited it and then revisiting it, it led me to VS code, which led me to a tool called Astro, which allows you to template and it's a jam stack type approach to template your html, which is always a problem if you try to do it manually.

So I've gone a strange route just trying to up my skills a little bit, so

[00:33:35] Nathan Wrigley: it was born out of your interest in tinkering and, some, something caught your eye about it. For me, it seems like on the flip side of it, you've you've gained a whole load of new skills, but also websites will be quicker.

You'll probably make yourself. Bulletproof in the future because you'll have a whole new suite of tools that you can use and ways of deploying websites, which I think will be faster, leaner, probably better for the environment and so on. Plus, you don't need the heft of something like WordPress, which like you said, is a million plus lines of code in the background.

Yeah, it's fascinating And a bit left field. I wasn't anticipating.

[00:34:14] David Waumsley: No, we have gone off on that, but is it, I think it's still very much when you look at the conversations, I've been looking at this recently where I think when I first came into WordPress, developers were very much the commentators, they were the influencers, and it was very much featured around skills.

So I always felt like I didn't have the skills, so I was always trying to do that. And that's still, I dropped that a little bit and now it's moved a little bit more to talking about the products, by which product are you going to use, which plugin you're going to do to solve that problem. Yeah, and that's been a shift.

Now, one thing that sort of crossed my mind as we move, as we feel, we almost need to be moving. From platform to platform all the time. It makes me think if I look back on my history here, if I, when I started, if a page builder had been built at that time, it would've been tables based.

Yep. And it would be dead today. Yep. Because it been, it would've committed to that. And then it would've moved to floats and it would be dead today. And then it would move to Flexbox where most of 'em are now, and now is presently getting challenged by the grid. Grid, the CSS grid. So I think sometimes, Aim for code free is effectively locking you into the length of that platform.

So I've had to think about that's actually appropriate. In a lot of cases, a client want, Agile, get something out there, quickly build it with a page builder. It may only last on that platform for a number of years, but that did the.

[00:35:42] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, I do. I understand. I wonder if the, the changes that you've just described, I, I'm guessing none of that will ever slow down.

Technology's not gonna, No, not gonna go at a snails pace. There's always gonna be a new thing to think about. And maybe stripping WordPress out of that enables you to pivot to that a little bit more successfully. I'm Gonna be interested to see how this goes down with clients. I'm guessing that certainly in my scenario, every website that I built, the clients had no interest in the technology behind it.

WordPress was about as much as they could cope with. If you then start talking about, you need a C server and we've gotta sell my SQL and the database and then we've gotta find somewhere to put all the files and. Course we gotta have something like Engine X running.

Nobody was interested in that. They just wanted to know, listen. Can I have a website? Will you manage it for me? And at the very most will I be able to edit it, which basically nobody ever did. They always picked up the phone. So I think in a curious way, you, this isn't gonna be something you're gonna be talking about with Miss A anyway.

She's just gonna say, Can you build the site? And where is it? If we'd have been six months ago when you were talking about working with the clients much more and letting them understand how the page builder works and allowing them to be a web designer, in effect, to some limited extent, then that would've been troublesome.

But now with your new approach without, cutting WordPress out the picture so long as you can deliver the website, I don't suppose Miss Ale care at.

[00:37:19] David Waumsley: No, and it's gonna be experiment. Next thing I'll do is with that and see how that kind of works out, just as an approach, just to keep my skills there.

It's always useful to keep having that, those skills there. It does make me wonder a little bit about Gutenberg, will it. As it goes towards being a page builder, will it effectively be the start of its own demise? Because it'll lock too much into a system, which effectively code is always changing.

Browser is always changing. CSS spec is always changing. Will it ever. Effectively make itself outta date through not being able to

[00:37:53] Nathan Wrigley: evolve. Yeah. It's interesting because the whole premise of Gutenberg isn't to be locked inside a WordPress, is it? Matt has this idea that Matt Mullenweg has this idea that it'll become the, how to describe it, the interface for the internet, so it won't just be on.

WordPress, it'll be on I guess a good quick example would be something like Tumblr, because that's a property owned by automatic, so they can just push it into there. But it'll also be on Droople. It may also be built inside of your mobile phone. Now I can't see. Any of that happening just yet, but that would be the principle.

And if that's the case, then maybe Gutenberg is a good bet. But also the whole block methodology, the fact that the blocks are just little atomic bits of content and even to some extent little mini applications, they can do so much more than the classic editor ever could. You can have a block which will, I don't know, render real estate listings.

It's got all the fields bound to it and so on. I think that Gutenberg is gonna be quite interesting in the future, and obviously in your new approach where you've got the Jams stack. I don't know how that'll fit in, but I think. Gutenberg's got a really bright future, but we just can't see it yet cuz we, we just have the comparison of a page builder and it doesn't meet that comparison head on very well at the minute.

But I don't think that's what it's necessarily trying to be. It's trying to be a lot more than that.

[00:39:23] David Waumsley: No, and I've just thought while you were talking there that perhaps from Matt's vision of it is because of this business interface. Largely it's the design, the system that's there, the code, underlying code that makes it all happen is changeable.

And actually that's, I think is creating a bit of a frustration for some people who've jumped in on building custom blocks itself because things like class names change. So for someone like me who liked the page builders, cuz I had a bit of custom CSS I could add into, that's a bit of a nightmare.

Gutenberg, but essentially that actually the fact that it can change like that and you're not supposed to build on top of it in that particular way is the thing that might stop it. Be stuck . Yeah. Yeah. We don't know. Do we? It is, but it's very interesting and I just think, and it's completely off our topic, but I think you, we had to reach to this sort of how things have changed to realize.

What, what you're offering to the client. Some people are just literally, that is their business now, word, WordPress. They build the sites and help them to use WordPress. I I

[00:40:27] Nathan Wrigley: think this is the episode where we've least tackled the the topic at hand. I feel like we've gone off a completely different in a completely different direction.

I think we usually we're quite good at staying on message. Yeah. But I think today we've failed miserably. So whether or not this episode will air with the title of when the Client Turns Web Designer or not, I don't know. But have we done this? Is there any more that you wanna add?

[00:40:50] David Waumsley: No, we've done it and we, it's the end of this season, so we're going last season, isn't it?

Next we'll be talking about the after build maintenance monitoring, hosting up selling services, et cetera. Yeah. And you've

[00:41:03] Nathan Wrigley: just upended all of that. You realize, with your jam stack, you're gonna yeah. You gonna have a completely different approach. Yeah. Alright. We'll see you in a couple of weeks.

[00:41:13] David Waumsley: Yeah. Enjoyed that. Thanks. Bye.

[00:41:16] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. I hope that you enjoyed that. Always a pleasure chatting to David. If you listen to the whole episode, you will very much have noticed that we went slightly off topic. The idea was to talk about web designers being made out of ordinary clients, then thinking that they can do everything themselves, which of course, increasingly they can.

But then as you'll have heard, we slightly got derailed and started talking about things like Jams Stack. But it was a lovely conversation. If you have any thoughts about what we said today, we'd love to hear them. There's a comment section [email protected]. Search for episode number 299 and leave us a comment there. Alternatively, our Facebook group, WP Builds.com/facebook. You could go there and leave us a comment.

The WP Builds podcast is brought to you today by GoDaddy Pro, the home of managed WordPress hosting that includes free domain SSL and 24 7. 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. Find out more by going to go.me/WPBuilds. And we thank GoDaddy Pro for their continuing support of the WP Builds podcast.

Just a quick reminder, if you're into Black Friday deals, don't forget our url, WP build.com/black. It's a great big list, a growing list, pretty small at the moment to be honest, but it'll grow.

You just, you watch over the coming days and you'll be able to search and filter all of your things over there, get it bookmark. We will be back next week as it was a chat with David. It'll be an interview next week. We'll obviously be back on Monday for our this week in WordPress show, but it remains only for me to.

I'm gonna fade in some cheesy music. You stay safe, 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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  1. Enjoyed your podcast.

    I am trying to define a WordPress target audience to serve in my retirement gig. The audience would basically be similar to what you were describing in your podcast. Not web designer or developers.

    I have used names like “no-code or low-code users and/or DIY site owners or marketers. i.e users who what to know just enough to build. edit, and maintain a simple site with no-code and/or limited technical skills using a pagebuilder or the block editor.

    What do these people call themselves???

    I’m sure it is not no-code or low-code users or even DIY users.

    “Beginner” seems to broad. Any thoughts on how these users refer to themselves?

    • You know, that’s a really interesting point, which I don’t think that either David and I have thought about. Because, of course the person(s) in question will be Googling with the term which they apply to themselves. So ‘DIY website builder’, or ‘Low code website tool’, or ‘What’s the best software to build a website?’.

      Mmm. I think that this needs more thought. I guess that some keyword research is needed.

    • Hi Charlie, thank you. That is a really great question. We in the “industry” apply these names to others, but yep, it is not one the people themselves are likely to identify with.

      In companies I’ve seen the people who call themselves designers, creative directors and marketers taking on the websites. Not with great success in my view. They start with a code free solution and when it does not give the creative freedom they expected they try to hire a developer to force it to behave in ways not intended. Their code-free expectations are very high.

      From my limited observations “code free” works best with those small business on a budget who just need a website and are not too particular about it. They’re are the nameless business owners looking for an easy website solution. I suppose that is why there seemed to be a rush on niche websites by industry types.

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