Digging Deeper: working as a WordPress Engineer

In this edition of Digging Deeper, we sat down with Nino and Karlo, our WordPress Engineer and Front-end Development Team Lead, to find out more about building websites on WordPress and the work of WordPress Engineers.


Hey guys, let’s start with an easy one. What’s the deal with building websites on WordPress if you can use a custom, one-of-a-kind solution?

KARLO: Well, WordPress has been our CMS of choice for years because it enables us to create really advanced websites for a fraction of the time and cost it would take to create a custom solution from scratch.

NINO: The thing is, if you as a client want to be on top of your industry, you need to have a website that’s always up to date and following current trends. And they tend to change every couple of years. If you were to create a completely new, custom website from scratch every single time, you’d spend a lot more money and time because developing custom solutions is much more complex – that’s just how it is.

WordPress, as a platform, allows you to use already created elements, and gives you a much higher level of post-launch customization. All because of the large number of plug and play options that allow you to constantly upgrade your website. And, as Karlo said, it can all be done for a fraction of the time and cost.

KARLO: And in addition to all of this, you have an extremely giant WordPress community that can support you and help you if you ever get stuck. More than 30% of all the websites are created on WordPress, and the people who worked on them have probably seen every possible scenario, and solved almost all of the issues you could stumble upon. That’s an enormous benefit of using WordPress.

OK, when we talked before the interview, I accidentally said WordPress Developer, and you corrected me and said it’s WordPress Engineer – what’s the difference?

NINO: As the position of a WordPress Engineer is still quite new, there’s still some confusion in the industry. WordPress Developers usually do both the back-end and the front-end, and since the WordPress Engineer position is new, a lot of them do the same. At Bornfight, we wanted to simplify the process and actually made a clear cut.

KARLO: Yeah, our version of WordPress Engineers is a modified version of WordPress Engineers who are usually employed in other companies. In other companies, WordPress Engineers still usually work on both the back-end and the front-end aspects of web projects. At Bornfight, our WordPress Engineers are completely focused on back-end development. They don’t do any front-end stuff because we have a dedicated Front-end Department for that. WordPress Engineers collaborate and work together with Front-end Developers, but they work on different aspects of a project.

NINO: We want members of each team to focus on their core work, because it makes us all more efficient and productive. If I had to give you a sort of a general description of WordPress Engineers at Bornfight, we are like WordPress Developers who are fully specialized for the back-end aspect of web projects.

Nino, you’re a WordPress Engineer – what do you actually do?

NINO: OK, there are a number of important elements. We WordPress Engineers focus completely on back-end development, but we work closely with Front-end Developers on all WordPress projects. Our involvement depends on the complexity of the project – if the project at hand is just a simpler website, we mostly act as advisors to Front-end Developers who work on the project and assist them with issues that are more focused on the back-end aspect. If, on the other hand, a project is more complex, our involvement is that much bigger.

Our work usually involves creating custom plugins for different websites, as well as more complex third party integrations – it all depends on the requirements of the project. Developing ACFs is another important element of our work – we are the ones who’ll create the entire setup that will allow others to input content through the admin panel. So yeah, Front-end Developers will do the entire HTML & CSS part of work, and we WordPress Engineers will make sure everything is editable through the admin, that everything is modular, that Gutenberg blocks can be added…

KARLO: Yeah, the idea is to have WordPress Engineers use their advanced back-end knowledge to enable the Front-end Developers streamline their web development process. Any aspect of the project that involves the usage of PHP to create a new element or a new functionality is something a WordPress Engineer will do, while we Front-end Developers will focus on HTML and CSS.

NINO: Exactly. If a completely new plugin or a new integration needs to be developed, the point is that we WordPress Engineers do it the first time – we create the concept, develop it and then add the final code snippets to our internal WordPress development platform, so that Front-end Developers can practically copy-paste them and add them to any future project – just tweak it a little according to the needs of the project and it works.

KARLO: Oh yeah, this custom WordPress development platform you just mentioned – I’d say that’s one of the most important aspects.

NINO: Yeah, I agree. Constantly developing and upgrading this platform with new elements and features is what will help us streamline the entire process of developing websites based on WordPress. We really want to turn it into a central hub for all WordPress projects we’re working on and we’ll work on at Bornfight.

Tell me more about this WordPress development platform you mentioned – why is it so important, what are some of its benefits?

NINO: This WordPress platform we developed is extremely important because it streamlines our entire process of WordPress development. It enables us to be more efficient and to have all of the crucial elements for a project in one central place, but it also makes the work of our Front-end Developers much simpler.

The thing is, we WordPress engineers work on upgrading the platform and adding new elements to it, but when it comes to building WordPress websites, it’s actually Front-end Developers who use it the most. They are the first ones to start working on a project, and this platform enables them to setup the entire project with a couple of clicks. Before we had this platform, they always needed a WordPress Engineer to first setup the project before they could continue – now, that’s no longer the case. When Front-end Developers are working on some smaller and simpler project, this platform enables them to even setup, develop and deploy the entire project without even needing any input from us WordPress Engineers. Deployment is usually done by WordPress Engineers, but the way we set up our platform made is that our Front-end Developers can do it with a couple of clicks. That makes the entire development process much faster.

Another important element this platform simplifies and streamlines is the development of new plugins. The goal is to turn it into a large storage of our custom plugins that Front-end developers can just take and use on a project. The idea is simple – if we see that a specific functionality or an integration is used or needed on multiple projects, we WordPress Engineers would turn it into a custom plugin and add it to the platform. And then it would be available for all the Front-end Developers to use. We would develop it completely, set up all of the elements and describe how it works, and they could then use it on any project they need. All with a couple of clicks – super simple and super efficient!

KARLO: The main goal we want to achieve with this platform is to achieve maximum optimization and to automate as many development processes as we can. This will enable us all to be faster, take on more projects and create much better websites. That’s why our WordPress Engineers focus so much on constantly upgrading the platform, as well as making it better and simpler to use.

OK, great. We mentioned it briefly before, but tell me a bit more about programming languages that are used by WordPress Engineers?

NINO: PHP is the main language, but it’s also good to know a bit of JavaScript.

KARLO: Exactly. PHP is a must because a majority of work is done with it. JavaScript is used much less – only for communicating with APIs and fetching data from WordPress APIs.

NINO: Here’s the deal. WordPress engineers use PHP to develop routes for fetching posts, and then they use JavaScript, AJAX to make sure this route is activated when a certain action (like clicking on a filter) occurs. That’s why it’s good to know both PHP and JavaScript.

Last question. Tell me more about the vision for this team – how will it grow, what opportunities are available for its members and new members?

NINO: There are a lot of opportunities and many different ways we can take to grow this team. For example, we currently don’t create as much plugins as we plan. They can be used as standalone products which can turn into their own brands – we can develop them and offer them to customers. It’s all about recognizing the need, and since we work on a lot of WordPress websites, we already saw a couple of things that were crucial for multiple projects. Those things can be turned into plugins – I mean, the development part is a little bit more complex than what I’m just saying here, but you get the picture.

KARLO: Yeah, the goal is to create a set of that will be open source and available to all, and create another set that will be turned into their own little products that will be continuously upgraded and refined. Another element that we’ll focus much more on is our WordPress development platform we talk about here – we are already working on turning into a whole product, but it’s still a little early to talk more about it.

NINO: the plugins, custom themes, this entire platform of ours – as I said, there are a lot of available options. The only sure thing is that our WordPress Engineers will be the key components to making it happen.