The WordPress Helpers is different from most other web sites, and certainly from most WordPress-focused sites. Like our sister Answer Guy Central, at The WordPress Helpers we don’t do “happy reporting”. In fact, we believe that one of the best ways to actually learn something is to look at the wrong way to do it and reverse-engineer the process until you get to the right way.
Bob Dunn WordPress Training
We’ve been here for less than a month, and today is the fourth time we’re mentioning a guy named Bob Dunn. Bob Dunn does WordPress Training, and he clearly knows his stuff. And if Bob Dunn doesn’t like us very much this post likely won’t help that, but … let’s see.
While Bob was mentioned here only peripherally in our story about Geek Fights in the WordPress Community and in this piece on WordPress Image Handling, Bob Dunn WordPress Training was the main topic when he discussed but stopped short of actually being very helpful on the topic of WordPress Posts versus WordPress Pages. The piece you see linked below, on what happens when you change your WordPress theme, falls into the same trap. Great information, very little actionable assistance.
In Bob’s 28-minute video (yes, we watched the whole thing), he gave lots of examples of the problems you’ll encounter changing WordPress Themes. But the only punchline was “this stuff is hard”. And it is, and it’s the reason we run The WordPress Helpers WordPress Crash Course—and also why we work with third-party training partners like Bob Dunn.
What does this episode of Bob Dunn WordPress Training teach us about changing your WordPress theme? Quite a few things, actually:
- Change your theme and your posts and pages don’t go away (and thank goodness!) …
- But they may not be where you expect them to be
- Custom post types, plug-ins, and widgets may not work as you expect theme to any longer, especially if they were tied to your old theme …
- And even if you move from one theme from a developer to another by that same developer, things don’t always go smoothly
According to Bob Dunn WordPress Training, the bottom line is this: first expect a lot of work when you change themes, and second Bob says he isn’t trying to freak you out on the topic.
Here’s the problem: Mr. Dunn should be trying to scare you; changing your WordPress theme almost never goes as easily as people think it will. So here’s our point:
WordPress is a Content Management System
Why does this matter? Because unlike the simple blogging platform WordPress once was and is often still used as by folks who set up free accounts at WordPress.com and make no real customizations, Content Management Systems aren’t unified environments. The data you store in a CMS is managed using entirely different rules than those that control the presentation of that data. And when you add “custom post types” (i.e., data specifically designed to act differently than the CMS natively accounts for), you’ve created something that is almost guaranteed to break when you change something after initiating their use.
In other words, changing themes is hard work, and a useful tutorial on the topic needs to accommodate specific issues, not merely acknowledge that changing themes is hard work.
As I said, and have said before, Bob Dunn WordPress Training isn’t bad; it just needs to be better. In fact, Bob, The WordPress Helpers would love to build a real, useful WordPress training course with you; we know you know your stuff.
Our punchline for this piece? That was it. Like WordPress itself, Bob Dunn WordPress Training is almost terrific. And it isn’t about the effort, it’s about the execution.
Bob Dunn, are you listening?
I think it comes down to audience and approach. I’ve worked with Bob before, and he was one of the first bloggers I approached when I started a blogger resource centre a few years back. Bob’s approach – not scaring you, while making sure you know there’s work involved – is they type I’d prefer to read, because it prepares me, as opposed to putting me off from the start.
Sure, you can scare people – and sometimes, sometimes, that works. I find a more positive approach encourages more experimentation, though.
Danny, in case I wasn’t in the article let me be clear that I like that Bob’s folks-y, and approachable. Yeah, I’d also like to see his media better produced (too many “umms … ” and other pauses, but … well, I’m THAT guy, right?) But he is “easy”.
What bugs me is that this stuff can be awfully hard to wrap your head around for lots of people, and while Bob says what amounts to that by pointing out problems, he doesn’t provide a solution. He’s doing training, right? Training in WHAT, exactly?
I feel like WPExplorer’s handling of the issue as I described here is better—i.e., actually useful—and … not exactly scary, just … more real.
Hi Danny, I appreciate your thoughts here and have valued our relationship, so thanks!
What I think is being missed is that this post/tutorial was originally part of a large series of videos I had for members. If one does search my blog, I do have tons of actionable tuts, which people over and over have told me they are some of the best found on the web. If one was to see some of the posts/tutorials I have on themes, it’s actionable in that it not only walks them through how to set it up, but other options for customizations that they may not be aware of.
And yes, it’s my style. Barring what was referred to as ums and ahs, well, it’s worked well for me and thousands of people who I have trained over the years. In a nutshell, my training is just about that one post. Cheers!
Bob, I’m a media guy, so dead air drives me crazy. That’s all the reference to the ummms was about. I hope I was clear in both the original piece and the comment I left to Danny that I think your stuff has a lot of positives.
You raise an interesting point with the “this was originally … ” thing, and you’re right; I absolutely didn’t take that into account. That said: as you know, what I’m shooting at here is a reboot on the old way of handling WordPress, especially as it relates to the training function. As WordPress enters its mature phase we all need to start worrying a lot more about the nitty-gritty that people who might otherwise run into the arms of Wix, et. al. and are being mass-advertised at need help with.
I hear you and I think that’s where the audience’s preference comes in (which I see Bob has commented too, and that seems to say similar). Besides, I can’t criticize the “ums” and “ahs”, as I never edit any videos I do. Maybe I should start. 🙂
I wish I had a like button for that, Danny.
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