How To Become a WordPress Developer in 1 Year
It’s quiet common for a person who already has a website that’s powered by WordPress to decide that they want to learn how all the code works. What they typically do is start googling, reading and playing around with what they find.
The problem is that they often don’t have a focused approach and there tends to be large gaps in what they end up learning. It’s known as knowing enough code to be dangerous!
They may know a little of this and a little of that but not enough of the whole stack that WordPress is made up of.
What’s the problem with knowing just a little bit of code?
Not much other than potentially creating security vulnerabilities on your site or causing what’s known as the white screen of death when the php syntax used is incorrect.
That’s why I recommend learning to code the right way. So let’s get started.
Web Dev Tools you will need
This is a short list, but it’s everything you need. Other than the computer that you probably already own, you won’t have to spend not even a dollar. So here’s what you need.
- Your Computer, any computer made within the past few years should work just fine. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a Windows PC, MacOS or Linux. You’re probably not using Linux. You might want to in the future but any operating system will do.
- Text Editor – The one I recommend is Atom Text Editor. It’s what I use and I’ve been building websites for years. It’s also free.
- Browser – I recommend either using Chrome or FireFox. They have the best developer tools and will be vital when learning to build websites.
- Online Resources – I will give you a list of free websites you should use when first starting off. The list will be down below towards the end of the article.
The WordPress Ingredients
WordPress is made up of one of the most popular web stacks. Here’s the list of ingredients and what you will or should learn.
HTML – This is the markup language that all websites use. So this is where your journey needs to begin. HTML is actually very easy to learn. It’s made up of tags, some require a pair of opening and closing tags and some tags are self closing.
Here’s a tip, if you right click in your web browser and in the popup, click the link that says View Page Source, a new tab should open where you see the underlying code for this or any website. That’s the HTML in plain site.
If you spend about two hours per day learning HTML, you can learn the basics in about a month.
CSS – This is the styling used to make a website look nice. HTML by itself isn’t that visually appealing, this is why websites need to apply CSS to give it the look and feel desired by the website owner or developer.
Here’s another tip. Right click this page again, click View Page Source and you should see some links towards the top of the code. If you find a link that ends in .css that’s a style sheet where the css code is kept. That is the styling for this website, again right there in plain site.
After you are done learning the fundamentals of HTML and are comfortable creating the skeleton of your site, then move onto studying CSS. Give this at least 2 hours a day for 2 months and you should learn enough of the basics to start making simple but elegant looking designs for your website.
Wth HTML and CSS under your belt, you are now ready to learn the next step towards being a front-end developer.
PHP – This is where we begin our journey to server side programming. This is the same language used to power some of the most well known websites like Facebook. Yes, you can learn the same coding language that Mark Zuckerberg used to create the website that made hims a multi billionaire.
You will need to have a local web server in order to work with PHP. There are 3 options that are well documented and used by the developers when they are creating websites and web apps.
MySQL – This is the relational database that’s used with PHP and used by WordPress. You don’t have to dive to deep into this unless you really want to. I find it helpful since it is a major ingredient used in the WordPress Stack.
You can interact with it using your local web server and most likely a tool called phpMyadmin. If you do take on this optional learning path, then spend about an hour a day learning the basics for about a month.
WordPress – You may know how to work with the graphical user interface of WordPress but now you need to learn the way WordPress uses the stack to create what you see when you visit a website.
WordPress is made up of 3 key parts. The Core files/folders, themes and plugins. You should never edit the core files except for the wp-config.php file.
The knowledge you have learned over the course of the past few months can now come together and you can start building your own theme and plugins.
I recommend spending at least 2 hours per day for 2 months learning WordPress specific code.
Putting it All Together
Now you have just completed 11 months worth of studying, researching and building something with what you’ve learned, now it’s clean up time. Take everything that you’ve learned and spend this final month fine tuning your knowledge. Learn the art of refactoring code to make it more efficient. Then go live with your first production web project.
The Learning Resources
- PHP.net – This is the documentation for PHP
- MySQL Docs – The Documentation for MySQL
- WordPress Developer Resource – This is where you can get information on theme development, plugin development and learn about the code used by WordPress.
- My YouTube Channel – This is good for all around learning when it comes to WordPress
- Starter Theme – This is a starter theme you can use that gives you the basic code you need for a WordPress Theme.
- WordPress Plugin Boilerplate – A boilerplate for your WordPress Plugin
By using the resources listed above, you can learn how to build WordPress powered websites in just one year. During your journey, you will be tempted to jump ahead but I recommend you stick to the recommended timeframe so you can give yourself enough time to absorb the information.
Even after one year, you will still have a lot to learn when it comes to building websites. You will know a little more than the basics and will be able to build websites that aren’t too complex. The beauty of WordPress is you can often fill in the gaps with a plugin. Take your time and put in the effort. It will be worth it.