I think most people my age have fond memories of playing with Lego sets as a kid. I remember building tower after tower, again and again. It made for hours of enjoyment. What I think is most remarkable about this toy is how limitless it is. You can create anything you want, and, with enough blocks, you can keep building and creating as far as your imagination will take you. Throw in a few themed sets and the sky’s the limit.
Now as an adult, I recognize the infinite learning potential Lego gives my kids. But I can also see a strong parallel to a tool—a grouping of tools, really—that I use on a daily basis. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about WordPress.
Today, I’m going to spend some time talking about how WordPress is truly like the ultimate Lego set.
Whether you need a little motivation to make your development work more fun or you’re simply interested in seeing your favorite CMS in a new light, keep reading.
While there are many different kinds of Lego sets available these days, most kids start out with the basic set of blocks or bricks. These blocks come in all different sizes and colors and can be snapped together with ease. They’re your starter set and they’re perfect for getting accustomed to the process of building structures. Plus, they give anything you might create in the future a solid foundation.
For WordPress, these basic bricks are best compared to the PHP files. You know, good ol’ functions.php, header.php, index.php and so forth. These files outline the basic structure of WordPress and the theme you’ve chosen. They are very much so the building blocks. You wouldn’t be able to install any plugins or manage any fancy features without them.
When you move beyond building simple towers and castles, young Lego enthusiasts are likely to want to invest in sets that allow them to build a pre-determined structure or item. You can make slight variations to the design, but the picture on the box is usually what your finished product will look like.
Now, the WordPress Visual Editor offers more creativity and flexibility than that but I still think there’s a valid comparison here. Those fancy Lego sets let you take the skills you learned with the basic blocks and soar to new heights.
In WordPress, you can build on top of that PHP foundation to create posts and pages that are 100% unique to you. Write text, add images, and even customize with shortcodes. While you can go a very predetermined route with your posts, you can take what’s been provided with the editor and can do so much more, too.
It’s truly up to you.
Building with Lego isn’t always about the big blocks or sets. Sometimes, it’s about those little tiny pieces that connect everything together. I’m talking about the loose parts, the small pieces that make those complex projects possible. Things like tubes, connectors, and bows allow Lego projects to have curves and dimensions outside of the standard cube.
The same can be said for the WordPress settings functions though, right? Without Settings and all of the options it presents within it, you wouldn’t have full control over your site. And that means every site would look the same and function the same. Oh, what a boring online world it would be!
Once you get to the more complete Lego sets, you can’t go without some minifigs. I mean, if you’re going to build a castle, it’s a good idea to have some knights and horses tromping around in it, right? Minifigs are a Lego must and bring architectural play into full on imaginative play. They bring everything to life.
So when you’re building a WordPress site, the things that bring your site to life (besides your content) are the plugins and the theme you select. The theme will largely dictate how your site looks. Depending on its flexibility, you might have a say over the color scheme, fonts, and may be able to choose between a few layout options. Still, the basic look is going to be determined by the theme you pick, so as the saying goes, Choose wisely!
As for plugins, you can choose from several to add to your site. They add different functions that aren’t included in the core installation. Beyond adding custom code, plugins are how you tweak your site into something original and functional to your specifications. Just like the minifigs breathe life into your Lego builds, plugins and themes breathe life into any WordPress website.
Everything is Awesome!
In The Lego Movie, Emmet is a good little worker bee. He’s just like every other Lego minifig in the world. About the time everyone breaks out into the ten millionth rendition of Everything is Awesome, you start to realize that the sameness of the cookie-cutter Lego world isn’t so appealing.
As it turns out Emmet is pretty special. And while Lego sets can be used to create the same things over and over, they can also be used to unleash your creativity. Yes, you can use WordPress to create the same old site, right down to that “Just another WordPress site” tagline. But if you’re feeling creative, you can truly break the mold and use WordPress to make an original site. Those basic tools can be stretched in innumerable ways.
And really, isn’t that pretty awesome?