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WordPress development – where to start?

We love WordPress and, as far as we’re concerned, learning how to develop WordPress sites is an awesome experience. Sure it may seem daunting at first but there’s plenty of resources out there to help you get going.

Over the next few blog posts we’re going to share our experiences of learning how to develop WordPress themes. We hope this will help you avoid some of the mistakes we made along the way. More importantly we’ll also be sharing some of the useful resources scattered over the web that can be freely utilized to quickly learn and perfect your WordPress development skills.

In this post we’re going to cover our biggest mistake re WordPress development, the big mistake of skipping to the end! When we started working with WordPress many years ago we were principally using other people’s themes to build clients websites. After scratching below the surface of these themes the basic WordPress principles seemed very simple, designers made their sites appear slick and refined which made us immediately think that we could do the same. Instead of starting by learning the basics of how WordPress works we dived straight into the deep end of hacking other peoples themes and implementing code snippets without really understanding what we were doing. This was a BIG mistake! Although we did achieve a lot through this approach and but some cool stuff we never really 100% understood how or why everything was working. The knock on effects of this were huge, not only did we constantly feel stressed that we had implemented bad code practices but it also wasted a lot of time whenever we had to fix something that didn’t work!

After a few years of hacking away we decided to go back to the drawing board. It quickly dawned on us that, as WordPress developers, you’re not really developing a whole CMS system, rather you are developing something based on an existing system and to do so effectively you need to know how that system functions. Sounds obvious but it’s something people often miss!

So our best advice to save time and develop a great base from which to progress is to start at the beginning – with the WordPress codex. We would recommend taking some time to read through the basics of the WordPress loop and how to construct pages that will make WordPress themes zing. Learn about Custom Post types and WordPress hooks and you’ll be in an excellent place to start developing awesome sites. It really doesn’t take long if you start at the beginning and will stand you in a much better place that if you skip to the end. Ultimately the best place to start it here……the WordPress codex.