WordPress Specialist: role, duties and potential earnings

The WordPress Specialist is a web designer specializing in the creation of themes suitable for the CMS content management platform par excellence: WordPress.

The expression, in reality, encompasses two different souls: the creative person more dedicated to web design, also called web designer specialist or WordPress Specialist, and the WordPress developer, capable of understanding and writing the programming of the platform, i.e. the PHP language.

The structural flexibility of WordPress – among its best qualities – allows one to approach the system in a very dynamic and free manner, being able to develop from a simple blog to the most elaborate of portals, even according to the budget available.

It is precisely the recognition of the enormous potential inherent in it that has not only cleared its historical nature as a CMS for blogs by confirming it as an excellent tool for building websites but has also contributed to offering the market this specific professionalism with a dual path.

Over time, moreover, there have been many updates to this CMS, especially with regard to SEO optimization features. But if you really want SEO to have no more secrets, perhaps you should take a look at Digital Coach’s SEO Manager Course.

In this regard, for the column “Work and Digital Professions”, we host the interesting testimony of Tiziano Fogliata, a WordPress Specialist as well as the author of the book “Creating Blogs and Websites with WordPress”.

wordpress specialist skills

Who is a WordPress Specialist?

frame this figureFirst of all, in order to correctly frame this figure, it is necessary to make a sort of classification, because nowadays the expression WordPress Specialist is used to indicate different professional profiles with different skills:

  • a specialist more oriented toward the development and creation of themes can be called a web designer specialist;
  • the WordPress developer, on the other hand, is basically a web developer with good PhP language skills, who create themes, plugins, and other solutions for WordPress;
  • or a simple WordPress expert, i.e. a person who installs the WordPress platform with themes and plugins already created by others and simply combines these pieces to propose a solution to the client. In this case, since this is a hybrid figure, minimal development and design skills are required.

As far as my role is concerned, I am a WordPress Specialist more oriented toward the creation and customization of themes, so more of a web designer than a web developer.

This classification leads us to deduce that it is a little difficult to define a WordPress Specialist in a generic sense because it could simply identify the person who discovered WordPress three months ago and simply installs ready-made themes, but at the same time it could be a WordPress expert who has 5 or 10 years of experience in web development and is responsible for composing even complex solutions with WordPress

This opportunity is given by the nature of WordPress: there are projects realized by WordPress Specialists that turn out to be 50-100 $ sites, as well as projects that have historically cost several tens or hundreds of thousands of euros. A very adaptable structure such as that offered by WordPress lends itself to a certain flexibility in the professions that interact with its platform.

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wordpress specialist skills

What skills to have and what tools to use?

frame this figureIf we limit ourselves to the sphere of the web designer specialist, i.e. a person who creates or modifies themes for WordPress, he or she must have strong skills in HTML, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets – this is the language used to define the formatting of HTML, XHTML and XML documents, e.g. websites and their web pages).

And also javascript, without neglecting a minimum knowledge of PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor. e. the language with which WordPress is made.

In terms of tools, there is a great deal of freedom: WordPress experts who are used to working on the code using DreamWeaver or other Wysiwyg editors (What You See Is What You Get – tools that allow you to work with a preview of the final result, not on the code).

But the majority of WordPress Specialists including myself, prefer to work on a text editor, such as SublimeText or similar (Brackets, Coda), to have maximum control and use a more convenient tool.

Then it is good to know CSS editors, which are useful for working on the layout of the site, and image editors such as Photoshop, because in web design it is not enough to write code, but it is also necessary to create graphic images that can be used in the theme.

With regard to development, on the other hand, it is certainly useful to have a text editor plus other tools that facilitate and automate the control and management of the code.

wordpress specialist skills

How diverse is the labor market?

frame this figureApart from the case of the WordPress Specialist employed by others, a freelance WordPress expert generally receives job proposals from companies, end clients, professionals who have a site or a blog and want to make improvements or switch to WordPress, or other agencies who, not having people competent in WordPress on their staff, contact external professionals.

I generally have clients of these three types: the medium-large agency looking for an external WordPress Specialist; bloggers who, in my specific case, are food bloggers looking for someone who can help them with the transition of their blog to WordPress from different platforms. And companies or end customers looking to redo their site or create a new one.

Compared to the past, I have noticed an interesting change: it happens more and more often, in fact, that the client asks to structure his site directly in WordPress, whereas in the past it was the consultant who, when asked, proposed this platform as a solution.

It can therefore be said that in recent years it has been somewhat cleared through customs as opposed to a simple CMS for blogs: it is now fully recognized as a CMS software (Content Management System) that is well suited to multiple web situations.


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wordpress specialist skills

What path and experiences to acquire the right skills?

frame this figureMy personal journey starts very far back, in fact, the first time I had anything to do with an HTML page was around ’94-’95. I became acquainted with WordPress in 2003-2004, initially as a blogger: as an end user, I became so fond of this tool that I began to explore its various secrets and mechanisms and even started working with it. Experimentation led me at the beginning to mainly create themes.

In any case, in order to become a WordPress Specialist, it is essential to have a great passion for web design, particularly if one is oriented towards making themes or sites with WordPress, to have adequate knowledge of HTML, CSS, and other programming aspects.

Basically, the training remains that web or web developer depending on the path one wishes to take, whether more of a developer or more of a designer working on WordPress.

wordpress specialist skills

Which professionals should you relate to for successful projects?

frame this figureIt depends very much on the project. In the realization of a “standard” site – let’s call it “standard” even if this term is difficult to define -, external professionalism with which one interacts is certainly the graphic designer, who is called upon to produce the initial template.

For example with Photoshop or other software (Sketch, Illustrator), passing from Wireframe templates (a graphic representation showing the skeleton of a site or app) or Mockup or simply taking care of creating graphic elements such as the logo

Then, for the success of a project, depending on the type of project, it is useful to interface with that SEO and those who deal with web marketing in general, while for more complex projects, former designers and information architects are also involved, enabling the structure of the site and the information it contains to be planned correctly

We can say that the more complex a site is and the more ambitious the aims, the more professional skills involved, budget permitting. On the other hand, a site that can count on an extremely low budget is realized in all its phases by a single person who takes and assembles pre-constituted themes and plugins.

The charm and advantage of WordPress lie precisely in this: it lends itself to very low-budget solutions as well as more complex ones.


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wordpress specialist skills

How does the role change in different work contexts?

frame this figureMore and more often I am called upon to intervene in consultancy work for the choice of a platform or even to simply assess whether WordPress might be the right tool for the situation.

Compared to the past, I am less involved in the direct development of the site and for this, I call in external professionals In general, I take care of the project more on a general level: I coordinate the professionals, plan the requirements, and objectives as well as put in place the appropriate skills to carry the project through to completion.

wordpress specialist skills

WordPress Specialist: what is the average salary?

frame this figureHere we touch on a sore point because being a WordPress Specialist remains a rather undervalued skill. Many people, in fact, evaluate the remuneration received by a professional who creates a website in WordPress according to the price that themes have on marketplaces such as ThemeForest.

Given that the cost of a theme can be as low as $35-50, current reasoning leads one to think that a WordPress developer, compared to a traditional web designer specialist, is a much cheaper option. Globally, the prices of a WordPress Specialist vary widely, ranging from fees of $5-10 per hour to people charging $150-200 or more per hour.

It all depends on skills: a professional who has strong skills as a WordPress developer is better paid A person who gets by installing themes and plugins may charge much smaller hourly fees. As far as an average monthly salary is concerned – I am not very well versed in this as I am used to reasoning on a per-project basis – I would say that it can roughly be around the salary of a traditional web designer.

On the development side, however, I think there is a certain distance between the salary of a developer with considerable experience in languages such as Java, Python, or C and that of a WordPress developer.

wordpress specialist skills

Which project got you most involved?

frame this figureOne project that has particularly satisfied me and, above all, convinced me greatly of the effectiveness of WordPress is the one that led to the creation of the site of a rather complex publishing reality. It is a site that is now no longer online due to various vicissitudes.

Direct involvement in the work allowed me to discover the enormous flexibility of the platform, one of the poorly perceived characteristics of WordPress, being chosen almost as a fallback solution. As a rule, if one has an adequate budget, many prefer to realize a site by developing it directly in PHP, Rails, or other solutions.

This reasoning, in my opinion, is wrong because WordPress, in any case, constitutes a suitable solution for realizing complex solutions in a more than decent manner. In this specific case, in this project, we quickly set up a platform that allowed several editors to access and manage different types of content – not just pages and articles – in a very customized manner on both the front and back end.

The same work would have required higher investments and a much longer time by developing the site from scratch.

Ready to get involved?

If you have understood the usefulness of this CSM and aspire to become a WordPress Specialist, sign up for Digital Coach’s WordPress course, in any case, I invite you to read the article on how to create a site with WordPress.

Whatever your next move, the important thing is not to stand still and continue with your personal training, which is the real value that you must always continue to invest in.

Undecided about what your path should be? Request your FREE career counseling!



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