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Becoming a WordPress Developer

How to Become a Professional WordPress Developer for Free

WordPress has opened the doors for people to create amazing websites with relatively little investment. It wasn’t to long ago that it would have cost 10’s of thousands of dollars to build a website with significantly less features than most of the free themes you find on the WordPress Codex.

With so many people becoming Website Owners & Bloggers, the market for Premium Themes and Plugins has skyrocketed over the years. Combine that with the open source nature of WordPress and all the free resources online, the opportunity for people to learn how to code a website with advanced functionality is right at peoples finger tips.

Here’s how to become a WordPress Developer

The first thing you need to know is pretty much everything you need to start the adventure of web design and development with WordPress you either already have or is free. Let’s look at some of the tools you will need.

You Need a Computer

Most people already have one. It really doesn’t matter what computer you use or what operating system you choose. There are people who say you need an Apple Computer, others love their Windows PC and then there are those who pride themselves on using Linux as their operating system. I use all 3 only because of my curiosity and love for technology. From my experience I have determined that it is extremely easy to use either.

You don’t even need a powerful computer. Developing a website isn’t as resource intensive as rendering a 3d animation or creating a YouTube Video. You just need a computer that works.

Internet / Browser

You’re reading this article so obviously you have access to the internet and a web browsers. The browsers I recommend you use for creating websites are

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Internet Explorer
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Safari (if you’re on a Mac)

The reason you should try to have as many browsers as you can is you will discover that the Browsers all render websites a little different. So it is important to have access to as many as you can so you can check out how your website looks to those using different browsers.

Text Editor

You will need a text editor so you can create your code with. You should never use a program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs for writing code. Those are called Rich Text Editors and they add their own  markup to documents that just wouldn’t work for website development.

The text editors I recommend are free so you don’t have to worry about spending a ton of money when you first start off. Of course there are professional IDE’s Integrated Development Environments that you could purchase a license for but you could wait on those when you start making some money.

  • Atom.io – This is a great text editor that provides a significant amount of functionality. You could enhance it with add on’s that really help out a lot.
  • Brackets – This Text Editor is another free text editor that also has a lot of nice features. It is also created by the folks over at Adobe so you know it’s a quality product.
  • Visual Studio Community – This is another free full featured extensible IDE that you could use to create applications for Windows, Android, iOS and of course websites.

Just visit the links above and choose which text editor you want. Since they are all free you could try them all out.

Local Development Environment

If you plan on becoming a WordPress Developer or PHP Developer, then you will need a Local Server to test your code on. Luckily there are some great free options you could use.

  • Mamp – This software provides you with an Apache Server, MySQL Database as well as PHP. It is available for both Apple and Windows but not for linux
  • Wamp – Is very similar to Mamp but is only available for Windows computers.
  • Xampp – Is another option that comes with more features like Perl and MariaDB database and is available for Linux, Windows and Apple.
  • Ampps – Is like Wamp, Mamp and Lamp combined into one. It is a newer solution but is quickly gaining a following.
  • Desktop Server – Is a popular choice for WordPress Developers because of it’s features that focus on developing for WordPress.

Check out the links for each platform and just pick one. They all have the features you need to test out your code and in another post I will do a comparison.

Learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, MySQL and WordPress

Those are the primary languages and software that make up the vast majority of the web. If you can become proficient in each of them then you’re good to go. It does take time so being focused and dedicated to learning is key.

  • HTML – is the markup language of the web. It provides the skeleton for a website. It is probably the easiest part and where you should start your journey of WordPress / Web Development.
  • CSS – is what makes a website look nice. It provides the styling for a site. You can do some pretty cool things with CSS like hover effects, drop down menus and animations.
  • JavaScript – jQuery – provide the dynamic features that you find on modern websites. Like Image Sliders, Lightbox Photo Galleries and more.
  • PHP – is a server side programming language that runs on the server that a website calls home. The person visiting a website doesn’t see the code used on a server. PHP is what Facebook is built on.
  • MySQL – is a database, kind of like Excel but significantly more powerful. It is where data for websites are stored and gets retrieved with a language like PHP.
  • WordPress – is the most popular Content Management System in use today. It powers major Fortune 500 Websites and Universities but also is used by millions of everyday bloggers and small business. It is based on Themes and Plugins that are either Free or Premium.

Learnings Resources

Some of the best sources for learning is free on the web. Do you need a degree in computer science to become a web developer? No, you just need to be able to digest the various languages that are easily accessible via documentation you can find on the web.

  • w3schools – is a great choice to start your journey. There you can learn the fundamentals of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP and MySql.
  • Mozilla Developer Network – is another great source for learning. There you can find basic to more advanced tutorials on HTML, CSS JavaScript and more.
  • PHP.net – is the best source of information for learning PHP. It is the official documentation for PHP.
  • PHP the Right Way – Is a website that is constantly being updated and a vital resource for anyone looking to learn PHP.
  • Hacking with PHP – is another great source of information for learning PHP.
  • MySQL Docs – Will provide you with the information you will need to learn about the MySQL database software.
  • The WordPress Codex – is the online manual for WordPress and a living repository for WordPress information and documentation.
  • WordPress Code Reference – Want to know what’s going on inside WordPress? Search the Code Reference for more information about WordPress’ functions, classes, methods, and hooks.
  • WordPress Core Blog – If you want to keep up with the latest changes in the WordPress software then this is the site to follow.
  • WordPress.TV – is a great source for keeping up with WordPress.
  • YouTube – If you want to learn more about each aspect of Web Design, Development and WordPress, there are more video on YouTube than you could ever watch.

Free Online Training Programs

The internet is full of great resources. Below I will give you a few places you can check out for actual training online.

  • CodeAcademy – Their tagline is “Teaching the world how to code.” You can learn a variety of different programming languages their for free. Over 25 million people have used their site.
  • edX – Do you want a Harvard Education without spending a fortune? edX is a collaborative effort from some of the largest universities who provide online training in various areas and a ton of courses for programming. All for free.
  • MIT OpenCourseware – is another great choice for someone looking for more advanced concepts.
  • CodeAvengers – provides an interactive experience. Each program takes just 12 hours to complete. They provide over 150 hours of lessons on how to code.

Those are just a few of the free online resources you can choose from. There are more but you can’t go wrong starting with those.

Reading Actual Code

I think it’s important to learn how to programming by actually looking at real code, analyzing it, dissecting it, breaking it and putting it back together again. That’s why you should get your hands on some high quality code. Preferably from a top notch developer.

How do you do that? Easy, join Github  the the developers social network. Well, it’s more of a repository / collaboration site where you can join for free and download various pieces of code.

You should also download WordPress Core, Themes and Plugins You can open up the zip files and load them on your local server. There you can learn all about what’s going on under the hood.

How long before you can create the next Facebook?

Coding is like poker, you can learn the basics in 5 minutes but it will take a lifetime to master. They say it takes 10,000 hours till you master programming. But some people are faster learners than others. Plus, it really is about that next great idea. How motivated are you?

Learn from others

Having a mentor will help you get on the right track. Where can you meet other coders? Meetups are great for meeting likeminded people. You can also check out WordCamps which take place all over the world. You should also check out some forums dedicated to WordPress, Coding etc.

In Conclusion

The time is now, if you’re interested in becoming a Professional WordPress Developer or Web Designer, then just get started. You have all the resources you need and it’s virtually all free.

In the next article I will highlight some premium resources that are great investments for WordPress Developers and Web Designers. Stay tuned.

Hopefully you enjoyed this article. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas. Also don’t forget to share this article with anyone you think would benefit from it.

Good luck and have fun coding!

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