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The WordPress Tripod: Code, Content, and Design

WordPress is based upon a tripod of skills based solidly in code, content, and design. I’ve segregated the job skills and market into these three areas.

Code represents the technical, programming aspect of WordPress and web publishing, the work done under the hood.

Design represents the visual aspects of WordPress, the web design, interface (UI), user experience (UX), and graphic design elements. There are technical skills required to support this, but the focus is on the visual.

Content represents the writing. Content is fascinating because coders and designers cannot deny writing skills, though many try, even in my classes. Much of their job is based on writing for communication, customer service and support, documentation, inline documentation, technical writing, and more. Even web programming is learning a new language. However, the majority of the content skills and jobs associated with WordPress and web development and design deal with content development, strategies, social media, marketing, editing, and writing for the web in general.

In my research, I developed four tracks of skill requirements necessary for web development, each building on top of the previous:

Social Media and Marketing: Requires basic HTML and CSS, digital design and multimedia, and analytics, marketing, business, project and program management, web writing, and publishing skills.
Web Design: Add programming in PHP, JavaScript, Ruby, Mobile Technologies, databases, servers, basic security, frameworks, API, testing, ecommerce, and version control.
Programming: Add C#, Object-C/Swift, C++, Java, XML, data mining, authentication, advanced server, database, security, and automation.
Security: Add Cyber Law, advanced analytics and tracking, systems information audits, encryption technologies, privacy and security technologies including detection and removal, and extensive testing.
Some of these studies are beyond the 2-3 year degree programs at Clark College, but it gave us something to work toward. Some of these such as data mining, security, and automation are covered in university programs as well as certification programs.

In my academic survey of 105+ random job descriptions from among WordPress, Web Design, Web Development, and Web Content, I found that the following eight programming skills sets were essential across the majority of the job descriptions:

HTML – 86%
CSS – 81%
JavaScript – 80%
PHP – 71%
SQL – 60%
API – 50%
Server – 47%
UX – 42%
HTML5 and CSS3 were the most requested of the core web skills. In total, 71% of the jobs listed multimedia skills with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, video, and audio. The demand for multimedia support and programming languages, especially with the strong move into mobile, is high and growing, though the demand for Adobe Flash is falling, replaced by HTML5 multimedia.

Open source programs and platforms are in demand with WordPress representing 46%, Ruby and Ruby on Rails at 12%, and Drupal at 10%. An estimated 25% of all websites in the world are published using WordPress, with Drupal, Joomla, and SharePoint coming in far behind, and the job requests fairly represent those statistics. Proprietary programs such as ASP.NET and SharePoint have a lower demand but continue to be relevant, especially in the corporate job market.

It should be noted that a wide variety of other skills were requested in 20-40% of the job descriptions. These fall into the general categories of specific graphic and programming tools and programs, Content Strategies, SEO, Ecommerce, Mobile Technologies, Analytics, Java, and ASP.NET.

Adobe Creative Suite is a key software package necessary for web design, development, programming, and practitioner. Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, ColdFusion, Audition, InDesign, and PDF (Acrobat) continue to be high in skill demand. In addition, fluency with Microsoft Office continues to be a requirement.

Note that for this research project, care was taken to not specifically research WordPress-related jobs, but broadening the range, focusing on web designer, developer, and programmer positions.