Many people are familiar with WordPress. It’s known as the easy, “free” open-source environment used worldwide by millions of people to build and manage websites.
But WordPress isn’t a single entity. It’s a complex network of individuals and businesses. That has some amazing advantages, like being able to fulfill whatever your needs are from a vast and connected neural network, but it also means that a WordPress site is a complex system, with layer upon layer of nuance.
WordPress as a CMS
WordPress core is the foundation of any WordPress site. It is the base code that every WordPress site is built on and contains the core functionality of every WordPress site.
Part of that core system is an editor, the Gutenberg block editor. And with a very simple plug-in, you can still access the classic WordPress editor, allowing you to choose between two different editing experiences.
What this means is that at its heart, WordPress is a content management system (CMS). It started out as a blogging platform and took giant leaps as it filled the needs of a growing niche of people who wanted to edit and control their own websites without needing to get a degree in computer software engineering. It can now do anything and everything, from a basic one-page site to a learning management system to an eCommerce solution. But WordPress often can’t do and be all of those things by itself.
Themes & Plug-Ins
Themes extend the design and sometimes editing capabilities of your WordPress site. Plug-ins extend the functionality of your site – that’s where you can do things like create forms that integrate with Mailchimp or build an eCommerce site.
But as you begin your journey, you’ll quickly discover that “free” doesn’t necessarily cover all of your needs, that “free” doesn’t necessarily include fast support from the theme or plug-in developers (and possibly not any support at all), that screenshots and a brief description don’t always tell you all you need to know before you upload and activate, and that “free” doesn’t always mean “good.”
The Relationship between Themes & Plug-Ins and Worship Times
Going with a website company like Worship Times that uses WordPress sites to build its websites, you bypass all of that hassle and frustration.
- Worship Times vets all of the themes and plug-ins that we use. Over time, those themes and plug-ins change out as new technologies become available.
- Inside and out, we know the themes and plug-ins that we use (and by proxy their developers and support) – we know their pros and cons, their joys and concerns, their gifts and their quirks.
- Sometimes themes and plug-ins don’t play well with each other. One thing affects another, and before you know it, there’s a ripple effect and something isn’t functioning correctly, or, worst case, your site goes down. Worship Times understands this thoroughly and avoids (or knows how to deal with) problem children.
- Worship Times works directly with WP Engine (a WordPress-specific hosting provider) to create the best possible environment for your specific site and its many layers.
- We function as your translator! We work directly with theme and plug-in developers, paying for support when that’s an option, and understand and speak their language. Despite WordPress being such a vast network of people, we are often the first ones to notify them of an issue, and we keep on top of those issues if they aren’t resolved in a timely fashion.
The Design Cascade
Because of the complexity of the relationship between themes and plug-ins, the style and design of your site can become incredibly difficult to navigate.
Cascading style sheets (CSS) are what allows your site to look the way it looks. Themes are one of the primary ways in which that happens. But themes can have child themes – a customized version of your theme that isn’t overridden by a theme update (layer #2). And sometimes we at Worship Times add custom CSS to your site to get it to look just right (another layer). And finally there’s inline CSS – you can change specific things in your editor. This is the final layer that overrides (usually) all previous layers.
But plug-ins can have styling, too, and they can just plop themselves into the middle of any of those layers. That means that sometimes theme styling overrides plug-in styling, but sometimes plug-in styling overrides theme styling, and it has to be corrected. As part of your build process, we make those adjustments – we know exactly which plug-ins need a styling boost!
WordPress is a dynamic environment, and your site is not a closed system (hence the name “open”-source) – it is constantly changing. Really! It never stops!
WordPress core and every theme and plug-in will (should!) eventually have an update (some have more updates than others) – this keeps your site secure, the code up-to-date, and allows everyone to continue to play nicely together. Weekly (yes, weekly!) updates are just a part of what we do here at Worship Times, included with all of our sites.
But, as with everything, it’s more complicated than that. We don’t just run updates.
- We know when to hold on doing updates. Doing an update immediately isn’t always the best idea – the first major version release of any product can have a LOT of bugs.
- We try to wait until at least the biggest bugs are worked out before updating.
- And we spot check sites after updating to make sure nothing major is wonky because of an update. We may not catch everything, and some things are unavoidable, but we want your experience to be as smooth and hassle-free as possible.
The Worship Times Community
The best thing about Worship Times is our community! WordPress is a MASSIVE community, and we’re just a slice of that pie. We have “partners” not “clients” because we are all doing ministry together. Our team is a part of your community, and our other partners are, too!
Many of our clients are part of a multi-site environment. What this means is that you’re sharing technical resources with other ministries. This has the benefit of keeping costs as low as possible for you, but it ALSO means that you don’t live alone on an island. You have a community of neighbors who live next to you – they can relate exactly to what you’re experiencing with your website.
That same community, expanded to include all of our partners, is also uniquely suited to answer questions about your ministry. How do you attract young people? What’s the best way to livestream? How do QR codes work? Join our Facebook group to participate in the conversation!
And you can ask our team any question via support, and we’ll provide you with a thorough answer. We’ll go down ANY rabbit hole for you (we love doing that!) and are tenacious in solving problems and coming up with solutions.
Let us know what questions you have, what your needs are, what you love, or what you are concerned about. Everyone at Worship Times – our team and our partners – is here to help!