How much back-end programming should we know for WordPress?

There are always the pioneers, the people that do the first things on the computer, and then everyone else follows and find the way easier. The best example, of course, right now, is creating sites with WordPress. There are now many companies that make themes, and the back-end, the admin part of the these themes are getting so easy to use that one never has to touch the css or php. The one that comes to mind first is Woo Themes, which I myself have used from time to time. There are many others out there as well, but I have had experieance with Woo.

There are some, out there, that feel that you should always build your theme from a skeleton, and do all the programming, all the css yourself. But, then the question becomes are you a designer or a programmer. Is the structure as important as the final product? Does your client, in the end, care how you got where you are, as long as they are happy?

Sometimes I want more control. Sometimes I just want to get the theme up there, and tweak it to make it look more like my own. I sat through a lecture, recently, where the designer worked with a programmer and built the whole theme based on the Photoshop template. I would like to do that too, but which is more value to my client? Finding a them and tweaking it, or getting exactly what the design is and making it work in WordPress.

This reminds me a little of when the internet was young and was known as the Arpenet, before Illustrator existed. My brother showed me, as well as the wonderful world of the Arpenet,  how to program graphics. It was quite cool being able to draw vector graphics, but it was much easier to do once Illustrator came out.

So, should we all be learning as much as we can to use Thematic Children, or should we be taking pre-designed themes and tweaking them. Which is more important? The final design? The functionality? Can we give our clients more benefit from building from scratch? Or give them better value from being able to manipulate the back-end? Or is it fine to use something like WooThemes where the heavy lifting has been done, and all we have to do it change minor things?

I know that WordPress is the future of the web, I really do. I expect I will post more about this sooner, rather than later.

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