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The importance of experimenting as a web developer

As web developers, we tend to become incredibly efficient at using our favorite tools and CMS platforms to manage our workloads and clients with time and practice. Our efficiency in such tools can allow us to take on more clients as freelancers or manage a heavier project load if working in-house.

Due to this ease and efficiency of mastering such tools, it is understandable that web developers tend to focus on using only their favorites. For example, many of my colleague web developers solely work on WordPress.

Current career advice encourages us to specialize and find your niche so I am sympathetic to sticking with what works. Yet these days I tend to take a more broad approach as a web developer because I have realized over the years, client after client, that one CMS does not fit all clients and projects.

How many of you fellow developers have come across a client that says, “WordPress is too clunky” or “I don’t know how to use my WordPress website”? I can count 5 such client referrals for the first half of this year for myself alone. Whether they want to manage their site on their own or not, I’m sure you have met your share of WordPress users who are frustrated enough with their experience that they want to pull their hair out.

What is the best solution for such cases? Do you just try and convince them that WordPress is their best option and hold them hostage on a WordPress site simply because that’s the CMS you prefer to develop on...because you specialize in WordPress?  Not only is this bad practice and takes a customer down a path that may not be a fit for them, but I assure you we have more options at our fingertips. Many of my clients came to me after WordPress burnout and being led astray while eventually being abandoned by their original web developer. Who does this and why are clients being led down this path?

I know we can do better my dear web developers. We can learn more and offer other CMS solutions outside of WordPress, but only if we take the time to learn them. 

Imagine if we tried to ease these pain points for such clients. Would you find value in experimenting with a new CMS as part of your work week if you could? Would you find a way to learn new CMS options alongside your current workload? Could you possibly squeeze a little CMS experimentation as if it were a new task deliverable? 

I’d like to suggest a proactive challenge to take two hours per week towards learning a new CMS outside of WordPress, for example. Treat the challenge as if it were learning a new coding language or an awesome short course on Udemy that you felt was important to tackle piece by piece. What if you allowed yourself a few hours per week towards such a lofty goal?

It may require more effort in the beginning, but may expand your offerings to your clients and you may learn a new thing or two. 

I encourage you to take the challenge, improve your skill-sets, your toolbelt if you will. Let us know how it goes in the comments!