Falling out with Wordpress

Is this farewell after eight solid years?

WordPress was the main reason why I'm into web development. I dreamed of being a game developer but it didn't worked out for me, there's too much to learn and being a freelance game developer wasn't easy.

Web development paid the bills, and WordPress was my door to it. Sure, WordPress is an abomination like other web developers describe it, but it is in demand, and we can't deny that fact.

It was my money-machine, jobs were everywhere, from small tweaks, to major overhauls, to web development from scratch using WordPress, it's a freelancer's dream, but not until the rise of modern web development that opens new technologies that makes it easier for an average person to build their own website.

Page and Web Builders

Page builders and website builders took over some web development jobs as people can now do it themselves. Instead of hiring a web developer for $20 an hour, why not buy the premium plugin for $50 a year and drag and drop your way to a fully featured and designed website?

Don't want all the technicalities on setting up WordPress? Go get a website builder like Squarespace or Wix! It has better page building capabilities, better optimization, and packages all the tools you need like hosting your website for $12 a month.

It was hard for us developers seeing these tools took over some of our jobs, what's worst is getting hired to fix and customize a website using these tools. It's unnatural, we're more comfortable, efficient, and fast writing code than using theses builders we're not familiar of. We also get paid less since it's already presumed that our jobs get easier for using such tools, it's not, and I would happily code a website than use it.

Saturated Market for Freelance

As WordPress gets more popular by the day, getting jobs got harder, too. I can't blame people when they wanted a quality service on a low price, that's how it is. But for us WordPress developers, we can no longer keep up on the average price for a certain job. Pricing were greatly influenced by popular freelance marketplace, I never tried competing there, but most people go there first to check the market price for certain jobs, then go to you and tried lowballing your services.

No matter what you say about giving the best quality service, they can always find that somewhere else on a lower price. That is what's so hard with web development, we're not artists with unique styles and identities, we code the same code and tried to make it more efficient than the other programmer, but people don't really care about it because it's the outcome the front-end they really cared about, unless if they know the importance of code efficiency

WordPress is Getting Old

I first heard about WordPress in 2010, it's way older than that (2003, I think). Unlike fine wine, old technologies doesn't make it better. In WordPress' case, since they value their developers and users, they tried really hard to make newer versions of WordPress compatible with the old version, it's called backward compatibility.

WordPress takes extra measures in deciding to remove outdated technologies that will not affect their thousands and thousands of third-party plugins and themes. I mean, they could easily decide to remove support for jQuery and get all the developers to remove it from their plugin and themes like how Apple decided to move from Intel to their M-based chips fast, but WordPress isn't Apple. WordPress is open-source and all of its power is coming from the third-party developers, you can't force them to rebuild their tools in a whim for the next major release.

Speed is the New Norm

Google loves fast websites. With that in mind, website owners have no choice but to optimize their site to fare better with Google. Most website owners use WordPress for its user-friendly interface, but since WordPress is old it's harder to optimize it.

Modern web development technologies make it easier to optimize the sites built with them. Gatsby for example does the optimization out of the box. In WordPress' case you have to deal with the scripts built-in with it and all the scripts all the third-party plugins you've installed. That's why there are WordPress Optimization Specialist jobs because it's hard optimizing WordPress for Google.

The page builder plugins you installed earlier? It adds up a lot of scripts that you have no choice but to remove it and hire a developer instead to make your website lean. After that, if basic optimization doesn't work, hire an optimization specialist.

Some WordPress theme developers try to market their commercial themes to have better results in Google Pagespeed, it's true until you started to bring in essential plugins for your site.

The WordPress Developer's Dilemma

We have desperate website owners try to move away from page builders and plugin-heavy websites, that creates more jobs for us right? Yes, but again, WordPress is difficult to optimize, if the sites we try to optimize can't get better results in Google Pagespeed, all our work is for nothing, and we curse WordPress for not letting go of old technologies that hurts Pagespeed results (I'm looking at you jQuery).

So, what do we do? Slowly move away from WordPress and adapt newer technologies, at least that's what I'm doing now. I found joy in developing websites with Gatsby currently. I'm not quitting on WordPress as it is still paying my bills, but I'm slowly suggesting other technologies than WordPress to my clients looking for a faster website.

For web developers like me who started from WordPress, start learning modern web development and go with static site generators, I'm sure you'll like it, too.