SaaS web apps built with WordPress
Hello, fellow entrepreneur!
You're here because you want to learn how to build web apps. Maybe you call them SaaS apps ("software-as-a-service"); either way, you want to build a website that helps people get things done.
Maybe you have an idea. It might be the next billion-dollar startup, or it might simply be a better to-do list.
Or maybe you want to build websites for clients that do more than list their store hours.
And it’s possible to build a site for almost any idea with little or no code—WordPress is the key. (I say "almost," because WordPress isn't always the best option, but more on that later.)
My "web apps with WordPress" course
I am building an online course that will teach you everything I know about building web apps with WordPress.
Want to get notified when it launches? Join the mailing list here:
Most people think of WordPress for blogs or as a CMS ("Content management system").
But when I first started with WordPress in 2010 (Wow! Over a decade ago! Now I feel old 🙂 ), it was already expanding beyond just content.
At the time, I was creating client websites with WordPress, but on the side, I was building web apps to satisfy my entrepreneurial nature. This required complicated PHP frameworks, writing thousands of lines of code to create basic functionality like user registration.
Then it hit me. WordPress already does this! Could I use WordPress to build web apps? It would save me hundreds of code hours, and most importantly, I'd never have to write the same functionality again.
The proof is in the pudding (yum)
Ten years later, I've built dozens of web apps using all aspects of WordPress. I've had mobile apps in the Apple/Android app stores. I've had online games with 1600 concurrent games going on over Christmas. I've built intranets for companies with hundreds of employees. I've built personal finance trackers used by thousands of people around the world.
And every year it gets easier. More and more, plugins make it simple to add web app/SaaS-like functionality with little or no code.
And every year, with online movements like
#buildinpublic, more and more people scratch their entrepreneurial itch by building web apps, for fun and profit.
And WordPress has extra benefits
But a smart developer is lazy. I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I don't want to write code that's already been written. I'm professionally trained to look for the quickest, simplest, but most stable and reliable solution for a problem.
This is where WordPress is more relevant than ever. WordPress powers 40% of the internet. It's used by millions of people. It's built and maintained by some of the smartest developers on the planet. Some of the biggest companies in the world, including Google, have invested heavily in WordPress.
Because of this, there's a thriving community of developers (and experts for hire, if you need them to help realize your idea!) who build powerful plugins to extend the functionality well beyond content. And these plugins can be combined to make web apps in days—not weeks or months—and with little or no code. So if you have a great idea, you could bring it to life (and profit) in no time.
And on the off chance, you end up needing to hire a WordPress expert or developer to help get you over the finish line, the popularity of WordPress makes it easy to hire quality professionals.
Don’t use WordPress if…
Now WordPress isn't perfect for every app idea. Trying to parse live data from NASA satellites? Want to build the next mobile-first competitor to Angry Birds? WordPress is not the place to start.
But if you're trying to solve a real business problem, which usually involves people interacting with an app, WordPress might just do it for you.
More importantly, with only a little bit of work, you can find out quickly. And if it works, you can easily get your idea in front of potential customers to see if it has legs. (This is called an MVP, or Minimal Viable Product, and I'll write more about it elsewhere.)
So what’s the catch?
Building web apps on WordPress is not necessarily simple or free. Experienced developers know to say a solution is straightforward rather than easy. 🙂
Building web apps using WordPress will require patience, and learning new ideas. You will need to harness your inner nerd and embrace technology. You won’t have to do it alone though—I can offer advice that will speed up your learning journey.
Some of the best plugins are not free, but often there's a free or cheap way to at least test your ideas (I’ll talk about how to determine that soon!) And plugins can often be used on more than one site, so you can buy them once and use them over and over again, like tools on your tool belt.
*Dramatic music swells*
And finally, the part you've been dreading. You may need to write some code. Wait—don’t leave! It just depends on what your idea for a web app is, and what functionality you need. But often there is code online you can copy, there are tutorials you can walk through, and there are experts you can hire. Plus I'm going to teach you everything you need to know to navigate these waters.
And don’t forget
All-in-all, building web apps on WordPress is still the fastest, cheapest way to build reliable apps. Otherwise, I wouldn't do it 🙂 (I'm lazy, remember?)
So what’s next?
This year, I'll be writing about the plugins I use to create apps and how I combine them to flesh out my ideas. I'll introduce some of the concepts you need when designing and building apps for people to use. And finally, I'll be creating a course distilling all of my experience and experiments so you can learn what I do.
Sign up for my mailing list and I'll let you know when I publish new articles, and when you can preview parts of the course!