“I just don’t think that websites should be driven by people who think the bells and whistles are the most important thing.”
— Susanna Perkins
These days, when I hear about a new product, a new service, or a new brand, I do one of two things. I search for it online hoping to land on its website so I can find out more about it. Or I go and look for it on social media.
Everything and everyone has a website these days, or at least it feels that way. I still remember Web 1.0 and the days before the DotCom boom when the internet wasn’t as crowded and populated as it is today.
These days, having an online presence is a requirement. The easiest way to do that is to have a website. And one of the most popular ways to have a website is through WordPress. Suffice it to say, lots of people are working in the WordPress ecosystem.
In this fourth episode of Season 4, we’re looking at the role of the WordPress designer. Helping me peek behind the curtains is Susanna Perkins, who has been working in this space since 2008.
We talk about what WordPress is, how and where Susanna got her start in WordPress design, her thoughts around other newer platforms, and where she’s setting her sights for the next few years. Susanna also shares practical tips for anyone interested in pursuing a career or a side business in website design.
Links and such
Here are a few highlights from this conversation:
I took a couple of programming courses and came to the conclusion that my brain just doesn’t work that way. So I stepped back. Around early 2008, I discovered WordPress. That was really what I had been looking for because it took care of the programming part of the equation. It left me free to develop websites that were really driven by the message and not the programming.
I just don’t think that websites should be driven by the people who think the bells and whistles are the important things. WordPress gave me the ability to develop websites that could convey the message that their owner wanted them to convey in an attractive and effective fashion.
Every platform has its own idiosyncrasies and its own ways of doing things. And if I’m going to be learning something new, I would rather be learning something new within the WordPress umbrella.
I kind of had a heart for nontechnical people and so that was who I was aiming for. I put together this site, I decided to call it WordPress Building Blocks because of course building blocks implies that it’s a child’s play. That it’s easy. It’s simple. That it’s something you can do.
Years ago, I did a fair bit of work in print media. I love working online so much more because it’s so immediate. You can do something and see it right away. You don’t have to make the change and send it to the printer and wait for it. I love the immediacy of that and just being able to try different things and come up with new ideas.
I’m a big believer in learning by doing. I think you can learn more from actually doing it then by reading every book in the world or watching every YouTube video. So I would say build your own site about something that interests you. It doesn’t have to be something you necessarily want to make money at.