WordPress is an incredible platform... and one of the most appealing things about it is how easy it is for basic users to update content without needing to call or email their developer. That said, even the most basic users still usually need a lesson or two (or twenty) before they're completely self-reliant. Which brings us to our first official Readers' Poll: How Do You Train Your WordPress Clients?
The Available Options
Training Clients Yourself
I'll be honest... for a long time, I trained each one of my own clients personally. I work from home, so most of these lessons were at my home office, over the phone, or at the client's business, but it always involved a lot more time than I expected... and it nearly always involved repeating the lesson a few days later.
Pros: Training a client yourself is a good way to introduce them to features (like custom theme options) that might not be covered in other lessons, books, or videos. If you've taken the time to customize a theme options page, include custom post meta fields, post types, and all sorts of other bells and whistles, this might be your best option.
My only advice: find a way to bill for this time! There's no better way to focus a client's attention than to bill them for every minute they're listening!
Cons: This takes time and patience (lots of it!); which is usually the last thing on your mind when you're trying to close out a project. After you train your third of fourth client, you'll also begin to realize that you're repeating yourself a lot (there are only so many ways to show people how to create a post), which leads us to our next option...
Premium Training Libraries
Premium services are starting to pop up for the very reason that was mentioned above: Training new clients how to use WordPress often feels like a waste of time if there's an affordable solution that can train clients without wasting precious time looking over their shoulders. In full disclosure, I'm a huge fan of WP101.com and I've yet to really find a premium service that really compares... but I would imagine that they'll start to pop up as the user-base of WP continues to grow and the demand for quality training increases.
Pros: Send clients a link, kick back and relax. WP101 even offers a plugin that brings the videos straight to the WP dashboard... so clients can learn without ever leaving their site. No need to repeat yourself over and over, and clients can learn at their own pace, on their own time. WP101 even includes updates to their videos at every major new WP release.
Cons: It costs $19 (one time payment) for a lifetime membership... which can seem steep compared to free resources... until you consider that that one time payment pretty much covers you and your clients for hours, days, even weeks of your time over the long run. Other cons: It's not going to cover you for any custom theme features, so there's probably still going to be some training investment on your part after clients get the basics under the belt.
Books, Blog Posts, and Other Mixed Resources
This category is probably self-explanatory. You collect a set of resources from all over the web, or suggest that a client picks up a book that will help train them on their own time. We even have our own starter set of the WP101 Basix videos here on Wptuts+, which is a great starting point if you're not entirely sure about forking over that $19.
Pros: Most of these resources are totally free. In the case of the WP basics books, there are a lot of great resources to pick from.
Cons: Among other things, this won't seem like the most professional option to clients. Sending them to a cobbled together set of training links or books can feel sloppy, and the quality of the resources will vary from resource to resource. In the case of the books, you'll have to deal with out-dated material. Often, by the time a book is published, there's already a new version of WordPress out that might invalidate some of the information in the book... which means more work for you re-hashing new features.
The WordPress Codex
Pros: Once again, this one is free... and it's written by the WordPress contributors, which means that it's (usually) going to be the most up to date resource available.
Cons: Chances are good that your clients' eyes will gaze over quicker than they can speed dial your number asking for a personal walkthrough.
Don't Train Clients, Let them Fend For Themselves
Pros: None that I can think of really... sure, most clients can probably pick up WordPress with enough time and dedication, but the first time a client breaks their site while "learning", is the last time you're going to want to skip showing your clients the ropes.
Cons: Lots! Like any of us, clients can develop bad habits, hacky workarounds, and other potentially devastating workflows even WITH training. Why risk letting your client break the site you worked so hard on just to save yourself a little time.
Share Your Thoughts!
What experiences have you had with training clients? Have any tips, lessons, or horror stories you'd like to share from your own stories? Share them in the comments below!
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