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Jeff Chandler
Before I started using WordPress in 2007, I was a Joomla enthusiast. I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. You could (and still can) control where and when certain modules would show up, there was an active community and a bunch of plugins along with themes to choose from. It was’nt the easiest piece of software to use but after you figured out the quirks that needed to be worked with instead of against, it was easy enough to get things done. After discovering Joomla was going to be too much of what I needed for my personal site, I came across a piece of software called WordPress. I can’t remember exactly how I discovered it but after installing it for the first time and trying to edit a theme, I decided it was too difficult to work with. I decided to go back to Joomla but after trying to install a commenting system while adding features that WordPress came with by default became frustrating aggravation, I gave WordPress a second try and that’s when the light bulbs started flickering.
Looking back at those first few days of using WordPress, the software itself was not difficult to use but figuring out where to go to get plugins, themes, support, and documentation was. These were the days when I had to manually upload plugins to the wp-content folder in order to install them, same for themes. In order to add functionality from plugins into themes, I generally had to add functions with parameters to the theme files for where I wanted that functionality to show up such as single.php or page.php. Upgrading the software was somewhat easy but not convenient. I didn’t become comfortable with WordPress until I started editing themes. This is how I discovered what functions were and how parameters worked. What was weird chunks of code suddenly became stuff I could play around with without the fear of breaking the site. For me personally, the learning curve was very shallow and that was during the pre 2.3 days.
Fast forward to WordPress 3.2. Users for the most part do not need to use FTP to install WordPress, Themes, or plugins nor do they need to use it for upgrading. If WordPress is installed via Fantastico or some other method that doesn’t require the editing of code or the manual uploading of files, there is very little in the way of difficulty encountered before they see the WordPress Dashboard for the first time. It’s impossible for me to determine what the learning curve for WordPress is for new users because that’s a perspective I’ve lost and can never quite regain. However, if I had to take a guess, it would be becoming acquainted with the WordPress interface and figuring out which buttons and menus take you where and do what. Thankfully, the contextual Help tab in WordPress is helping to ease the discomfort of learning the system.
At the end of the day, I believe that WordPress had a shallow learning curve when I used the system for the first time and since then, that curve has become closer to being flattened.
Here is where I need your help. If you could, please describe to me in the comments or in a blog post on your site describing the learning curve you faced when you used WordPress for the first time. For some, it’s been ages ago but I’m really interested in hearing stories from those who are brand new to the software or started using it since 3.0. I’m equally interested to hear from those that used WordPress and decided it was just too difficult to use and decided to use another piece of software to accomplish the task.
wordpress has easy learning curve
but some of its themes not
i wasted a lot time learning how add jquery slider on my thesis theme site which pulls post as image slider without result
some of themeforest themes also come with lot options
and if u using plugins like wpspire for landing page etc it is more difficult
also some plugins conflicts each other
I mut say my experience is really similar to yours. I also used Joomla before to come to WordPress, and my first steps with WP were not easy (that wa back in 2006 I think). But I didn’t turn back to Joomal: I had realized that Joomla was way too much for what I wanted to do (a personal blog).
I looked around for help and I discovered wpdesigner, still maintained by Small Potato at the time. It became my main source of information for all things related to WordPress, and thanks to his great tutorials I got more and more familiar with the code, and started browsing the codex to get to know things better.
I remember that I first started playing with my sidebar. I had discovered the PHP widget plugin by Otto, and started displaying different elements on my homepage and article pages. It helped me understand the template hierarchy thanks to the conditional tags.
To conclude, I’d say that my first steps to WordPress were really good, thanks to all the tutorials that I could find. I don’t think there is so much documentation for other CMSes (correct me if I am wrong). WPdesigner has now disappeared, but there are many other great sites out there!
I suppose the best way of measuring the curve is how long it takes me to teach new site build clients, and therefore by definition new WordPress users, how to be able to do all the basics, up to and including tweaking some code.
Time varies according to commitment but as far as ‘difficulty’ goes – at least 5 times easier in the last 5 years – in fact 5 years ago I wouldn’t have attempted it if the client had zero techno knowledge. Now I enjoy doing what I do best which is the design aspect and I happily hand over the reins to the new owner when it comes to everything else!
Well… This article could be mine… :-)
In fact, the continuous use of wp is almost a CSS and html class. It brought me the necessary understanding, not only of these languages, but also about php.
Now things are different, easier and faster.
The only thing I would like to have, for now, is a admin panel for iPad, with drag and drop functionality… And a WYSIWYG editor… It would be nice.
But for what it matters, wp is one of the finest CMS software available, and running…
Regards from Portugal.
I have been into building site for a while and used to do it w/html. I had to show many people how to do the same. I had many problem trying to get people to stick with it to learn html, joomla, dupral,…then WordPress came along. I don’t know how/where I found it but i tried and never went back to even try anything else. It can be whatever I need the site to be. It can be to sell stuff, blog, forum or even a community using Mingle or BuddyPress. I find it very easy to show/teach people how to run their own site instead of payingothers to do it for them. They get mad to think of all the $ they wasted. Now they can just sign in and make a change or two or post a blog entry and be on their way. Even with the right FB plugin have the post shared on FB automaticaly all because they found WordPress. Best or not … it easy to learn and use. (imo) :)
I came to WordPress from Blogger in 2006; my geek cousin helped me move and set up the site (and hosted it for a while on his own server). Honestly, I was so excited by the new functionality (Categories! Static pages!), learning my way around was pure excitement. And the original version of Blogger had taught me enough about HTML and CSS that I wasn’t intimidated by having to hack up those great, WP1.5-era themes. So I’ve always had a hard time understanding people who try WordPress.com, give up after an hour or two and go fleeing back to Blogger. WTF is their problem?! Everything is so much easier now… but it was never hard.
I always thought I was pretty proficient when it came to learning software. In fact, most of what I know I taught myself and I would consider myself very proficient in the software programs that people use on a daily basis. I could teach most people a thing or two.
To be quite honest, I am still struggling with WordPress. I guess I’ve just never had anyone sit down and help me understand the basics of how it works. I know enough HTML that code is not a problem for me, but when I try to change something or add a page, I end up with a huge mess.
Is there anyone who can offer suggestions? I would love to take a course from a real live person in a classroom setting but have not been able to find one. I have a website that somebody else designed for me, but there is so much more I want to do but don’t know how!
Any suggestions?
I came to WP from Movable Type in 2007. I loved that WP was installed in five minutes out of the box instead of what was needed to install Movable Type.
I also liked WP use of PHP instead of Perl because my server host at the time really clamped down on Perl use so much so that my MT pages took a long time to generate and sometimes I would get one or more 500 server errors.
Coming from MT – WP wasn’t that hard to use.
Learning difficulty, as a coder: if WP is 1, Drupal is 10 and Joomla is omg-i-give-up-this-shit
I wonder if our learning curves are skewed because of the lowered bar, these days.
I know I started with HTML, then SHTML, then PHP and CSS and MovableType and PHPNuke and WordPress (in pretty much that order). But it was a gradual climb. Today people can just start with WordPress/Drupal/Joomla/Whatever via 1-click installers. They don’t learn FTP or SSH because they don’t have to. And because of all that, some things are far harder than ‘we’ feel they should be.
We make it too easy and not easy enough.
The paradox is that as installation and upgrading have become easier, actually using the software has become harder. It’s like b2 was Paint and WP 3.2 is Photoshop: along with all the cool shiny stuff you’re going to get a much more complicated interface. WordPress newbies have got a lot more to absorb now than I did in b2 days. OK, I had to figure out FTP and they don’t, but I didn’t have to learn about three different types of taxonomy, or mess about with gravatars, or worry about getting hacked through an insecure theme or plugin. And the people on wordpress.com get terribly confused about the difference between .com and .org, what they have to pay for and what they can and cannot do with their sites. Honestly, if I was trying to get a techphobe into blogging today, I’d send them to tumblr.
I have a question: Does learning one CMS make it easier to learn another? If you’ve mastered WP, can you approach Drupal, for example, with a pretty good idea of how things are going to work? Is it like playing for another team, but in the same sport?
I’ve been familiar with WordPress since ’05, when I installed it for a blog I authored during down times at work. For me, too, learning to customize themes (pretty recently) is where things started to really come together.
Been thinking about learning Drupal. Will I be starting from square one?
Thanks very much.
@Jim W – Yes and no. :) It’s like going from pick up football games in your back yard to the ones at summer camp. It’s similar, but the rules and terms are different. “What do you mean you don’t know what a Jimmy Slot Back on Five means? Everyone knows that!”
I came from Movable Type so the learning curve for WordPress was shallow. But back then WP didn’t have all the features it has now so maybe that made it easier…
@Jeremy – Come to think of it, I too came across WPDesigner because of some of the tutorials he wrote, specifically theme related stuff. Not to mention the fact that I loved the design of his site.
@Dave – In my opinion, a fresh install of WordPress.org is much easier than a new account on WordPress.com. I’ll explain why in a future post but it’s a nightmare to navigate and their is too much stuff in for the user to wade through on .com versus WordPress stand alone. That’s why you probably see people flocking FROM it rather than TOO it.
@Martha Davis – If you’re still struggling with WordPress, I highly suggest checking out WP101.com which I’ll be doing a review of in a few days or keep an eye out for new classes on WPClassroom.com. In fact, WPClassroom has classes on September 13th and 15th and is more of what you’re looking for to learn the software.
@Ipstenu – I think I hinted to that in the post near the end. I mean, these days, you have one click install, one click upgrade for core, themes and plugins, and overall, everything is just easier. If you loved the way a theme looked, there is a good chance that user would never have to touch any code to get going. But, are we going to be looking at a generation of WordPress users that look at you funny when you mention the acronym FTP?
@that girl again – I can’t agree with you that the software has become more difficult to use, at least I don’t think so. But I will say that WordPress.com is definitely more complicated to use than stand alone WordPress because of the interface and how many menus and links people have to wade through on WordPress.com. WordPress.com is supposed to be the hassle, easy way to press your words when in fact, I think it’s the other way around.
@Jim W -I’d say no. As I learned with Drupal and with Joomla before WordPress, each system has it’s own nomenclature, it’s own ecosystem of terms and descriptions used to navigate managing the system. While all three are built with PHP, they each do things a different way, sometimes majorly different ways. While there are similarities between them all, there are probably twice in not three times as many differences.
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