how to become a web developer

How to Become a Professional WordPress Developer (Infographic)

Did you know that WordPress powers over 27% of the web? WordPress is by far the most popular Content Management System today, which is why it would be a good choice to become a WordPress developer and provide WordPress services to your clients. WordPress is a joy to work with and it’s super easy for non-technical people to pick up and update their content.

Gone are the days when a client would rely on their developer to make content changes to their site, WordPress allows you to empower your clients to make changes themselves, which will help them take their business further and enable you to focus on things like maintenance, improvements, or new projects altogether.

If you want to be a professional WordPress developer, then get started by checking out this article as we present to you the things you should consider to turn yourself into one of the best WordPress developers today. And stick around for the infographic we’ve prepped at the end.

1. Compile Reading Materials About WordPress

The best way to start exploring the world of WordPress is to read materials about it. However, with hundreds of thousands of articles and blogs from the community, it can be quite hard to distinguish which ones offer the most comprehensive and non-intimidating approach to this niche.

To help you with that, here are some well-known authorities that offer high-quality resources about WordPress:

  • WordPress Codex- WordPress Codex is a community-based repository of all WordPress-related information and documentation. Its “Getting Started with WordPress” page is sufficient enough to guide you through the very basics of the WordPress environment up to some intermediate topics.
  • Books About WordPress- Getting yourself a good book about WordPress can give you some really valuable information. Examples are WordPress for Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson and Professional WordPress Plugin Development by Brad Williams, Justin Tadlock, and Ozh Richard.
  • Blogs- Some of the top WordPress developers also run their own blogs. You can subscribe to them to know their thoughts as well as their techniques. Some of the best WordPress blogs are Digging into WordPress, WP Tavern, and Newt Labs.

2. Understand the Basics of WordPress

After you have made a shortlist of WordPress resources, the next thing to do is to understand the basics. These are the three essential components that you need to familiarise yourself with in order to fully understand how WordPress works:

  • Core – Holds all the default functionality of the whole WordPress ecosystem, including the admin backend, post scheduling, password strength checker, creation of additional users, etc.
  • Themes – Responsible for the front-end of the website or making the website as intuitive as possible to its users. While the core handles all the posts, pages, and other content, the theme ensures that it is properly displayed on your website.
  • Plugins – Plugins are a piece of software that extends the functionality of the core or provides additional functionalities that, otherwise, would not have been available in the WordPress Core.

3. Focus on One Specific Area at Once

After you have familiarised yourself with the basic components, the next thing to do is to decide which of the following components you should develop first. Focusing on one specific area at a time ensures that you remember all of its intricacies much better and it gives you a deeper understanding of WordPress as a whole.

Here are the areas where you will need to know more before you dive deeper into WordPress:

Themes

Learning how the front-end of WordPress works and how to develop it will allow you to create everything from a stand-alone site to content-heavy dynamic websites.

The required files for a theme are the style.css, the main index.php (if you don’t have a homepage.php for the homepage), home.php, single.php, page.php, archive.php, and 404.php

Some resources where you can learn WordPress Theme development include Theme Shaper, Tuts+ WordPress Code Tutorials, and Smashing Magazine WP Techniques.

Plugins

Plugins have the power to transform WordPress into any kind of website you want. Learning how to develop a plugin can be a big help, especially when making a website for clients with specific needs.

The two important terms that you should understand in plugin development are filters and actions.
Both take in some code and return a variable, but the only difference is that the filters return code like a string of HTML or a newly updated variable, while actions return code directly into hooks that are predefined in WordPress themes, plugins, or even in the WordPress core.

REST API

REST API is quite new in the WordPress landscape, and you might only encounter this after you have mastered theme and plugin development. Through the REST API, you’ll be able to craft applications based on WordPress such as iOS and Android apps, and even TV apps as well.

Its feature is quite comparable to the core of Twitter or Instagram: It retrieves the latest posts from any website and uses HTML and CSS to display those posts on your website. This means that the REST API can make a WordPress website a repository of information and build the dashboard and the backend using a different system overall.

Core

Thousands of developers around the world develop WordPress. A total of 482 people worked on WordPress 4.7 and many others are working on other aspects such as translations, mobile applications, accessibility, and support.

It will take a lot of experience to contribute code to the WordPress core, but the easiest way to get involved is to identify and verify bugs and glitches and propose ideas to fix them using the WordPress Trac.

4. Familiarise Yourself with the Essential Tools

There is a set of tools that you need to familiarise yourself with to get started with WordPress development. Here are the languages you need to know to help you tap into the full potential of WordPress:

  • HTML and CSS – These two are critical for WordPress development. The HTML provides a structure for the website, which impacts everything that comes after it. The CSS gives the website its character: text color, image alignment, border colors, float properties, border thickness, etc.
  • PHP – The language that WordPress is built on, PHP is used by 82.4% of all websites in places where it is known. Unlike HTML, PHP is a server-side language, which means that a server has processed a command first before it was sent to the user’s browser.
  • JavaScript – Used to add dynamic functionality and interactive effects within the web browser.
  • MySQL – Used to access and work with data stored in the database. As a developer, you might only use this in some special cases, but if you want to optimise data retrieval for your website, having a basic knowledge of MySQL is beneficial.

5. Explore Advanced Tools

Once you have familiarised yourself with the essential tools, you can choose to explore advanced developer tools. This can include SASS, which is a superset of CSS. This language adds the functionality to use variables, functions, and other concepts, which are not inherent in CSS in the first place. Here are some other advanced tools that you can explore:

  • Build tools – Monitor changes made in files, optimise images, link relevant files together, and download external packages.
  • Terminal – Learning to use the command line or terminal can help you install themes, plugins, and test content much easier and faster.
  • Version Control – Used to collaboratively work on projects, but can also be used to manage them, fix bugs, and back things up at the same time.

6. Follow WordPress Coding Standards

Being a professional WordPress developer includes abiding by the different guidelines and coding standards. There are specific sets of guidelines for each type of programming language being used in WordPress, all of which can be found in the WordPress Codex. Adopting these guidelines can help you keep your code clean, updated, and easy to work with.

7. Seek Help from the Community

Mastering WordPress development will require hard work, and there will be times when you need help from other programmers and developers. You can seek help and guidance on your project from the following places:

You can also follow top WordPress developers on their blogs and ask them for advice:

8. Put Your Knowledge into Practice

Nothing will hone your skills more than putting it to the test. Gaining first-hand experience can definitely help you assess your skill level and identify the areas that you need to work on. The following are the best ways to gain experience with WordPress:

  • Create a WordPress website for a client
  • Build a Public Theme
  • Create a Plugin
  • Contribute a Patch
  • Be an Expert in Debugging
  • Write Tutorials for Beginners

These are just some of the ways to become a top-notch WordPress developer. From educating yourself to apply the knowledge that you have gained in real-life scenarios, being a WordPress developer requires an endless loop of effort on your end, but if you keep at it you will soon see the fruits of your labor.

How to Become a Professional WordPress Developer Infographic

In the following infographic, we at Newt Labs give you a guide for your WordPress journey. This includes what and where to learn, who to look to for help, the tools to pick up along the way, and the next steps for success with your newfound knowledge.

how to become a web developer infographic

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About Steven Watts

Steven WattsSteven is the founder of Newt Labs. He's a WordPress specialist with an interest in building the most effective websites possible. Since 2010, he's been helping businesses with their online goals.

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