Every WordPress developer should have their own blog!

As WordPress developers, we're busy with developing features most of the time. Developing functionalities is awesome, but a lot can go wrong too, unfortunately. One way to help prevent things going awry is having your own blog. Here, I'll explain how writing for my own blog helped me understand WordPress users better and improved my development skills.

Usually, developing features works something like this: We get some requirements for a specific part of an application and start working on fixing it. After finishing the feature, we verify whether it meets the given requirements. In an ideal situation, we'll also run an implementation check to validate if the rest of the application still works as expected. 

And believe me, it's awesome. There's a process for getting things done and on top of that, we deliver working features. Everything we make is based on requirements and the code we deliver is meeting those. What can possibly go wrong?

Well, let's look at a few examples of what can go wrong:

  • We use example data while developing;
  • We use the feature the developer way;
  • We don’t see the big picture.

Example data for the win!

When working on our SEO plugin, we spend the most time on developing editor-related features. Often, we use example data to test a feature in the editor. I've regularly visited news sites to copy some content for testing purposes. And I've seen other developers test features with Lorem Ipsum

Copying a text is a good way to test code behavior, but it’s not the way most users are writing their content. Writing a text is an ongoing process where the user is typing step by step. The editor and the integration of the plugin are interacting with that typing. If you copy and paste a text in the editor that interaction is gone.

Maybe, there is an issue causing performance issues when typing a text, caused by some code in the background listening to a keyboard event. The developer won't see this, because he just pasted some text in the editor, instead of truly typing one. Fortunately, there's an easy way to prevent this: write for your own blog and you'll experience the same interaction as the user!

Using features the developer way

As a developer, you're also a WordPress user, but you're a different type of user than the end-user. Often, the developer just looks at the requirements and works on fixing those. When testing, the developer uses the feature the way it should be used, following the happy path, and forgetting about what can go wrong in daily use. After completing that test, he'll move on with the next issue he can solve.

I ran into a situation like this a while ago. I was blogging about a subject and entered a focus keyphrase. A specific word of that phrase was automatically filtered out for the analysis. However, no visual feedback was given and I had no clue why my focus keyphrase wasn’t found in the text.

As a developer, I can easily put myself in the position of the person who worked on this functionality. When testing this feature, that developer probably entered a keyphrase containing a word that should be filtered out. He verifies if it's being filtered out. If it is, it works!

But as a user, I'm not aware of this filter. I just notice that my keyphrase isn't picked up by the analysis and I have no clue why. Some visual feedback can point me to that reason.

Missing the big picture

In the five years I've been working at Yoast, I’ve gained plenty of knowledge about our plugin. In addition to that, I also learned a lot about SEO. Blogging gives me the ability to use that knowledge in the real world. 

This is very powerful because, nowadays, I'm optimizing my own blog and trying to reach high positions in the search engines with it. Before I had my own blog, my knowledge was very abstract and for most features, I didn't even have a clue what it was for. 

So as a WordPress plugin developer, blogging helps me understand why and how users are using our product. I even believe that you can only know your users when you are one of them yourself!

Start blogging right now!

Are you a WordPress developer? Change the way you focus on your product and start blogging. I've been writing blogs for 2.5 years now and I've found so many things that need improvement. And I only noticed those things because I became a different kind of user. It just adds value to the end product; you have to be a user to understand the user!

Read more: How to start a blog »


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