Yesterday, I shared some thoughts on what I consider to be some qualifications to be a WordPress developer. The list and the post itself were by no means exhaustive, though I appreciated a lot of the comments and emails I received – there were some really good thoughts that came from the readership.

I think it’s an important to talk about.

But one thing I did want to make clear is that I don’t necessarily think that what I’ve written are the definitive things that one should consider in order to be a WordPress expert. We’ve all got different barometers and what not for what we consider to be experts – sometimes we say that they are just people who know more than we do; other times, we have more strict criteria.

To that end, although I’ve shared some of the things that I believe a WordPress developer should know, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert WordPress developer.

I know where I am, I know where I’ve been, I know where I want to be. And that’s what I use to gauge my personal level of experience.

A Word About Titles

Perhaps this is a cultural thing but I think that we spend a lot of time trying to find the proper titles to apply to ourselves in order to indicate our level of experience.

Titles then aren’t inherently bad, but there’s no real standard.

That is, a software engineer at an Internet-based company is very different from a software engineer who works on the software for medical devices is very different from a software engineer who works on software that powers space equipment.

To be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with contextualizing titles. If you’re an employee of one type of company then I assume that you have a set of qualifications and a set of knowledge that another person with a similar title in a different field.

But, like many industries, the world of WordPress is vast.

There are themes, plugins, extensions, customizations, applications, and who-knows-what-else that is being built on top of it. And if you’re a theme developer, you may or may not be a plugin developer, and vice versa.

So we have no context for titles. This is why, yesterday, I wrote about certain questions and points to consider – they are things that transcend what we do with WordPress.

And For Interviews?

One of the points from yesterday that I did not do a good job covering had to do with a client interviewing you for a position.

Specifically, I said:

Instead, you’re looking for someone who knows the right terminology, the proper techniques, and processes for unearthing how a project should look, feel, function, and perform.

And then I gave a few examples of some questions that might be asked.

The thing is, the questions that I shared were are more inline with something that an agency or a corporation may ask. They are not on par with what the client should ask.

If a client is capable of asking and understanding those questions, then the odds that they’re able to build their own solution is pretty high.

So anyway, how do we make sure that our customers know what we’re capable of doing without coming off as if we’re using technical jargon? I wish I had a solid answer for this, but I don’t.

  • Sometimes, I think certain clients can have a technical person helping them with the interview.
  • Having examples of our work and walking them through the challenges at a high-level can demonstrate what we’re capable of doing.
  • Talking through the process of how we tackle projects (or manage projects) and get them done carries weight.
  • Showcase other examples of where we’ve spoken, shared knowledge, or something like that may carry some weight.

As you can see, these are but suggestions. I don’t know if there’s one single answer to this because no two clients are the same. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some things that will carry merit.

As For Expertise

So anyway, about that whole expertise thing. In many things that we do in life – be it play an instrument, play a sport, study a particular field – many of us would ultimately like to become experts. Conversely, some people are also completely happy being a “jack of all trades, master of none.”

I’m not one to say which is more right than the other – when it comes to programming, I prefer to focus on a subset of technologies rather than a breadth of them, but that’s just me.

So as I said at the beginning of this post:

I know where I am, I know where I’ve been, I know where I want to be. And that’s what I use to gauge my personal level of experience.

I don’t know if I’m a WordPress expert because I know where I am and I know people who know so much more than I do (whom I respect, and whom I try to follow, and from whom I try to learn). I also reject the idea when someone says “You’re a WordPress expert” because they don’t have an official gauge to determine something like that.

I know where I’ve been based on the work that I’m doing and that I’ve done. I know what I’ve been able to achieve, I know how to conceptually think about solutions to a given problem, and I also know that there are times where I’m presented with something that I may not know how to actually to solve.

That doesn’t mean I don’t sit down to try, but that’s another post.

Finally, I know where I want to be because I’m not there yet. Like I said a moment ago, I know so many people who are at a place that I am not and I want to be where they are. The thing is, once I’m there, where will I want to be next? Probably further along. I mean, it’s only natural, right?

So anyway, the idea of being a “WordPress expert” is something that I think should be applied very, very specifically to a very certain type of person. It’s not to be confused with a “WordPress developer” and, as I’ve noted, there are even various types of WordPress developers. We need to qualify them, as well.

The ultimate take away or point that I would like to try to make as it relates to yesterday’s post and this post is as follows:

  • Be very careful how you label yourself as a label will give a potential client an impression that may (or may not) be true about your capabilities.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re not the type of developer that they’re looking for (but feel free to have referrals that you could send along).
  • I think it’s more liberating to be confident in the things that you do know and sharing that with your client than trying to talk your way around what you don’t know.

I’m sure there are points that can be added to what I’ve listed above, but those three seemed to be the ones that came to mind the most when working through my additional thoughts regarding all of the content for the past two days’ worth of content.