You are not 9 years old, or…how people REALLY learn WordPress

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How People Really Learn WordPress

While on the Facebook recently I was targeted with an ad that told me that if a certain 9 year old child can make WordPress websites, I should be able to as well.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen such marketing messages that tout WordPress to be so easy that a kid can do it. Even putting aside (which trust me, was reeeaaally hard for me to do!) the fact that the product seems to have been made by some cheeseball internet-marketing-bandwagon-jumper-type and that it’s all possibly fake anyway, this approach to selling WordPress irritates the bejesus out of me for a couple of reasons.

First, when you tell me I should be able to do something a kid can do, it makes me feel kind of dumb and it also makes me feel like you are being condescending to me.

Way to set the tone. (And I’m someone that does know how to make websites. So imagine how that feels to someone that has found it difficult to learn WordPress!)

Of course, I get the point they are making – WordPress isn’t rocket science so get over yourself and build that site you’ve been talking about. Fair enough. And yes, a child could quite feasibly set up and manage a blog.

But the second and more important reason it bugs me is that it ignores a glaring reality that anyone who has actually tried to teach WordPress would understand:

It’s precisely because you are NOT 9 years old that you may find WordPress hard at first.

When people come into learning a new skill thinking it’s going to be a piece of cake, they will get frustrated much faster than someone who believes they will have to make a little effort. So while I do believe that most people are more than capable of learning how to use WordPress, we do have to recognize  and acknowledge some of the challenges that come when adults try to comprehend something completely new.

We Have Baggage

For some people it will be as easy as it is for a 9 year old. But for most it will be a little more challenging. I’m not saying WordPress is difficult but adults typically bring way more baggage to learning that a child does. I’m no neuroscientist, but every day I have the opportunity to observe how people approach and learn WordPress.

What I’ve seen is that the technical part of using WordPress is rarely the barrier. The mechanics are relatively easy to teach. But it’s all the emotional and mental stuff along with our habitual patterns that we bring into the learning process that often trips us up.

As adults we do have years of building mental constructs to overcome. There’s a reason that as children we can learn languages seemingly by osmosis but that it becomes harder as we get older. However some adults more than others tend to buy into the “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks” style of thinking. True, our brains may have some pretty entrenched pathways, but we can work to change those, and if you want to learn something new, you will have to. That’s actually quite exhilarating and most people feel very satisfied and excited by accomplishing this new understanding

That Hole Is The Wrong Shape

Ironically those that come to me from old school IT backgrounds, or from the days of building static HTML websites and have heard how WordPress is so easy, often have the hardest time. When we’re kids one of the first skills we learn is to put the triangle-shaped block in the triangle-shaped hole and so on. As adults however, we tend to get worse at this game and spend hours trying to change the hole to fit the block we have in our hand, instead of looking for the correct-shaped hole. People often try and fit WordPress into their existing mental molds when in reality you just need a different mold.

So how can you prime yourself for learning WordPress (or anything really)?

Try to get out of your own way and try and keep the following in mind…

As the old Zen story goes, if you bring a full teacup, there is no room for any more tea.

Your mental teacup must be empty if you want to add more learning to it. So no matter how technical you are or what you think you know about building websites, temporarily forget what you think you know and come with a fresh and open mind.

Have a child’s excitement.

You’re about to learn a new skill that could change your business and open up all kinds of new ways to connect with people. That’s pretty awesome, no?! Approach with a sense of wonderment and you’ll have fun!

Drop your ego at the door.

It’s OK if you don’t just “get it” right off the bat, most people don’t. But trust me, after a few tries and some practice, it’ll all start to become clear.

Watch your mental chatter.

Our minds are pesky things. Left unchecked they will come up with all kinds of ways to convince us why we can’t do something, why we’re not smart enough etc etc. Don’t believe everything you think, it’s mostly nonsense anyway :)

Share your story of learning WordPress – stumbling blocks and/or tips in the comments!

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jared

    I am one of those that came from the era of building static html websites. Switching to wordpress has been great! It is a little hard though to learn a whole new system.
    I liked this:
    "if you bring a full teacup, there is no room for any more tea."

    1. LucyBeer

      Hey Jared – thanks, I'm glad you found it helpful!

  2. Nancy O'Donohue

    Excellent post, Lucy. It helped me take a deep breath and relax about WP. :)

    1. LucyBeer

      Thanks Nancy! You are an excellent student :)

  3. Oscar Gonzalez

    Excellent post Lucy and I agree. WordPress isn't as easy as some people make it out to be and especially when we have a preconceived notion of how websites work. I find it that people that have never used any software for websites have an easier time "getting it" than those that have prior experience but maybe not extensive experience with web apps.

    1. LucyBeer

      Thanks Oscar! I'm glad that my observations are ringing true in your experience as well. I think it hurts WordPress' image when people assume it will be easy and then get stuck…they tend to then blame WordPress and assume it's not as great as everyone told them it wouid be!

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