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My WordPress Journey

December 2020Lizi Pinnock

By Lizi Pinnock

As a designer at FIG I have the opportunity to undertake on-going training and skill set development. I have always had an interest in digital design and already having some front-end coding experience, I seized the opportunity to advance my web development knowledge and enter the world of WordPress.

At FIG we build our websites using WordPress as a content management system (CMS). As one of the most powerful and most flexible CMS systems out there it enables FIG to build bespoke websites for our clients who can then manage and update their own future content.

Why?

There is always the debate whether designers need to learn to code and what the benefits would be. Design is such a broad skill that it is unnecessary in many instances to have coding skills, but in web and digital design, I have found it to be massively beneficial. American architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase: “form follows function” and when it comes to designing for the web and UX (user experience) this rings true. A website is created for users and the success of a website rides on its functionality. I have often felt at the design stage that I have been designing elements in a certain way with-out fully understanding why it is best practice. This is the void I wanted to fill by gaining a better understanding of the logic and problem solving behind web building. With the current climate becoming even more reliant on digital there is also no time like the present to upskill in this area.

How?

My level of coding experience goes as far as HTML, CSS and some use of jQuery and JavaScript. In order for me to be able to create a bespoke WordPress theme it would be necessary to know and be able to implement some PHP. While PHP is definitely on my list to learn, for the projects I have tackled so far, I used a plug in called Elementor as a steppingstone, which has worked well for someone of my current coding ability. Elementor allowed me to apply some of my front-end coding knowledge to projects whilst offering visual building blocks to aid in creating a bespoke, robust and most importantly sustainable WordPress sites. By using a plug in to help it allowed me to immerse myself into the build process and to familiarise myself with the workings of WordPress and its terminology, with-out hitting too many brick walls and becoming demotivated.

Challenges:

While Elementor on its own is an extremely powerful plugin it isn’t a magic wand, it is probably best described as a tool to help smooth out the build process. Working on these web projects has pushed and advanced my coding knowledge beyond its previous limits, which had been focused on the look of a site, not how the client might manage its content. One of the biggest challenges was to ensure the back end could be usable for the client, and to style and keep it consistent. For this I used a plugin called ACF (Advanced Custom Fields) which allows different fields of content such as Images or Text to be editable for the client which I could then use to style.

Another challenge was looking at pages such as News Archive or sections containing the latest posts, and learning the terminology such as the Loop or single Loop items and the logic behind the structure of these pages. One of my biggest challenges was designing these sections. Elementor could handle the styling of an ACF field, but it does not go as far as to let you style a single loop item. Fortunately, there is an abundance of tutorials and advice out there for working with both WordPress and Elementor and pretty much any problem I came across, someone else on the Internet had also experienced and presented a solution. The trickiest bit was applying this solution to my individual element of the project.

By learning how to build the websites I have designed and by understanding more about what is involved in the build process, has opened my eyes to how forward thinking you really need to be at the design stage.

FIG designs and builds bespoke websites that work for your business. To find out more get in touch with us on 01457 857111 or email [email protected]

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