For over eight years I, personally, and our team at Proof, have focused on building websites almost exclusively in WordPress. We tout the benefit of having an easy to use, highly documented, and customizable content management system (CMS) that the client can manage themselves. Near the end of each website project, we provide training and how-to documentation that frees our clients from needing to keep us around for high-cost “maintenance” retainers that used to be (and in many cases still are) the norm for development shops.
Intuitive. Simple. Customizable. All words we’ve used to describe WordPress as our platform of choice for web development. But now, as WordPress continues to pack on the features, and as the world of web evolves, the trending need is for online solutions created less for engagement and exploration, and more for action and conversion.
Jonas Downey, a designer at Basecamp, wrote about tools (or lack thereof) in a recent post on Signal vs. Noise:
“As builders, we like tools and tech because they’re interesting and new, and we enjoy mastering them. But when you think about the people we’re building for, the reality is usually the opposite. They need simple designs, clear writing, less tech, and fewer abstractions.”
Using an example of a non-profit animal shelter, Downey says in regards to site maintenance: “They want to get stray animals adopted, not fuss around with website stuff.”
That’s spot-on. While WordPress and other CMS’s of the world offer up simple user management for content, I see the trend continuing to move toward even simpler solutions that are built simply to drive a specific or series of specific goals. Who cares if you can update text on the homepage if the text on the homepage is exactly what it needs to be to drive site visitors to adopt a pet?
Creating a website using straight HTML and CSS may seem insane, in this day and age. “How will we write blog posts?!” “What if I want to change a picture?” “I need more pages!” All valid and, at times, necessary functionality requirements. The takeaway? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and less may truly be more. We’re quick to chase the new shiny thing when the old, reliable, ridiculously simple and basic one may be more than enough.
We always want to use the right, and best, tool for the job. These are thoughts and ideas we’ll continue to explore here at Proof as we’re always in pursuit of what’s best for our clients and their goals.