It’s a common mistake to assume that it is not necessary to have WordPress programming knowledge to start a WordPress agency. However, running a successful business requires that you balance a mix of the best qualities of both worlds – industry expertise and management abilities – and master them to perfection.
If you lack the technical advantage, it will be tough to understand your customer’s needs and provide tailor-made solutions. Even if you build up a team of pros, you will still lag behind because you will not be able to see the bigger picture. And if your business skills are not on point, you may fail to acquire new clients, grow your company, and bring in profits.
Whether you are just beginning your journey as a WordPress agency owner or are looking to change your career path and become a web programmer first, there are WordPress developer key skills that you definitely should master in order to grow professionally.
Must-Have Skills of a WordPress Agency Owner
As mentioned, being a skilled developer yourself means that you should understand how a WordPress website works, have the skills to build one, and know what and how can be done in order to achieve any design the customer desires.
Leveraging this information in customer communication, you will have more credibility and will be able to quickly identify any potential pain points and provide immediate suggestions on how to bypass them.
The accompanying list of abilities represents the major areas of knowledge that you need as a WP developer.
HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. Simply put, it is the foundation of how websites are assembled.
Although it is not a programming language, HTML is amongst the essential skills a developer should learn. Knowing it will allow you to comprehend how the web functions, and will give you the tools to build a website from scratch, including constructing the layout of the page, formatting the text, adding images, and so on.
Even when you anticipate utilizing WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors or CMS (content management system) for the greater part of your work, knowing HTML will give you a lot more control over what you are doing.
While HTML handles the structure of the website, CSS directs the visual appearance. CSS is short for Cascading Style Sheets and is a language used by front-end programmers to design the style and appearance of the pages built in HTML.
CSS dictates how the elements of the page are rendered on the screen – the colors, the font size and styling, the positioning and distribution of the text, the formatting and configuration of blocks, animation, backgrounds, etc. In a nutshell, it’s the graphic design of the page and what makes the content visually compelling.
CSS is one of the basic WordPress developer skills required for building a quality website, and knowing it will benefit any programmer and agency owner.
As a business owner, it will provide you with a complete overview of the development process, and will improve your ability to communicate propositions and solutions to your clients.
4. PHP, Java, ASP, or Perl
Websites can be built using different types of web programming languages, and some of the most popular are PHP, Java, ASP, Perl, etc. Of course, you will benefit from learning all of the above, but in the event that you have to pick only one, then you should definitely choose PHP.
PHP is the back-end foundation of WordPress, and the pioneer of the web today, and that makes it a great asset to your WordPress technical skills. It is simple enough to be learned by someone with no dev background whatsoever, but, at the same time, it has much to offer to an advanced professional as well.
Writing every line of code manually is time-consuming and in many situations may even be redundant with modern tools like Bootstrap that have website elements read-made and available for free.
You can use the open-source framework to copy the base code for your pages and then customize it to achieve the unique results your clients want.
Bootstrap has templates for CSS, JS, HTML5, responsive meta tags, and box-sizing. The tool can be very useful for accelerating your work speed and making sure that you comply with the latest web standards.
6. Responsive Design
Long gone are the days when desktop was the only portal to the internet. People nowadays go online from various devices, and websites should render equally good on screens of all shapes and sizes.
All contemporary WordPress themes should be with responsive design, and knowing how to optimize your layouts for mobile traffic is an essential skill for any developer. Mobile-friendliness improves the quality of the user experience, and benefits how people interact with the content of your pages. Furthermore, it is essential for search engine optimization. After Google’s mobile-first indexing update only the mobile version of websites is eligible in search result pages.
Of course, there is more than one way to make a website mobile-friendly, but responsive design is the smartest. You build only one version of your website and add code to it that defines parameters and breakpoints that trigger the changes in a page’s layouts, and make it transform and rearrange the content to fit any screen perfectly.
As a WordPress developer, that’s a skill you definitely want to have. And as an agency owner, knowing how the process works will help you sell the idea to your customers.
7. SEO Knowledge
Search engine optimization (SEO) is important both as a technical and a business management skill. Even the best websites with the most professional design and functionality, are no good for a business if people can’t find them online. And while on-page SEO is an inbound marketing issue and focuses mostly on content structure and keyword optimization, technical SEO requires a developer’s touch.
To make sure the websites you build are crawled, indexed, and ranked properly, you should make them compliant with the latest search engine standards and regulations. And since those are constantly evolving, you should follow the SEO trends and be alert for upcoming updates. Google usually announces those in advance and gives website owners and developers enough time to implement any changes.
All in all, the goal of SEO is to improve the user experience, by making websites mobile-friendly, fast, easy to navigate, and the content interesting, valuable, and credible. Knowing how to implement these in your work will benefit both your WordPress technical skills and your agency’s success.
Business Manager Skills
Above are the WordPress developer key skills that you need as background and industry knowledge to start your journey as a WordPress agency owner. However, as mentioned, business management abilities are what will turn your company from an aspiring group of professionals into a successful operation.
8. Strategic Thinking
As a WordPress agency owner, strategic thinking is a must-have skill for you. Nothing is as essential to business success as having a plan, setting goals, and following KPIs to track and measure growth.
Strategic thinking includes knowing the industry, understanding the market, monitoring the competition, and having a keen eye when recruiting talent. You should consider all these variables and more, and take them into account when planning ahead and making business decisions.
Also, you should be able to identify what causes the discrepancies between your goals and reality and update your strategies often to make adjustments. Letting go of factors that hold you back will allow you to focus your growth efforts in the right place.
In a nutshell, having strategic thinking means having a holistic approach to managing your business and leading your team, and always planning one step ahead.
9. Goal Setting
You should have the ability to set clear goals, otherwise, your team members will be confused. This skill will help you improve your performance. Planning is very important while you are trying to set your goals. It is the procedure used to decide the exact direction of a business. You have to allocate your resources properly.
10. Business Communication
In website development, as in any other niche, understanding what the client wants and delivering it is the key to success. However, failing to communicate issues or to get to the crux of the matter in business communication can cause misunderstandings, thus affect the quality of your work, your schedule, task deployment timing, and, eventually, even cost you clients.
Knowing how to talk to your teammates and your customers is an important part of running your business. As a WordPress agency owner, you will be dealing with both developers and IT specialists, and non-tech-savvy users who have no technical skills. And you should be equally equipped to convey information and be understood by both.
Bonus Skill: Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing are amongst the most important factors in business growth. And while you don’t need those in your WordPress developer key skills set, as a company owner, you should know them well.
Both departments can be outsourced, of course, but having at least a general understanding of the processes at work will enable you to improve your strategies and better position your product in the marketplace. As a tech business, selling your product requires a certain amount of professional expertise, and a third-party company may not be able to highlight its best qualities as well as you can.
Furthermore, websites and digital marketing go hand-in-hand, and growing your knowledge will allow you not only to build your brand, but to improve the quality of your work as well.
If you find out that you have a knack for it, you can even expand your business and offer inbound marketing services to your clients as well.
Starting a WordPress agency requires a foundation of both WordPress developer key skills and business management insight.
Without a tech background, you may not be able to properly understand your employees, or the demands of your customers. And without the strategic thinking of a businessman, a company can not grow and develop successfully.
When you build a network of loyal clients and increase your revenue, you can afford to delegate responsibility to capable professionals in your team, but right at the start, your personal skills are the most important asset to your business.