Once you become comfortable with publishing content with WordPress and installing themes and plugins, the next step in your journey with this platform could be cultivating some development skills. Being able to develop your own solutions or modify existing code, gives you the freedom to deliver something which matches your vision or that of your clients.
Whether you have some programming skills already, or are just starting out, there is plenty of information online to help you start gaining more control over how your WordPress sites look and function. By exploring these resources for becoming a WordPress developer, you can take the first steps towards getting more out of this versatile platform.
WordPress Programming Languages
Apart from HTML and CSS, which are more focussed on how your site will look, the two main languages you need to learn are PHP and MySQL. As these are all very popular choices, there are countless learning resources available to start using them.
However, as our goal is to become proficient in HTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL in order to start developing for WordPress, here are some targeted resources to help you move towards that goal:
Lynda.com Video WordPress Developer Courses
Lynda.com is one of the most well-known online training websites and their range of WordPress-related courses is pretty extensive, although mainly covering usability issues. Some of the standout courses that will be of interest to anyone who wants to become a WordPress developer include:
- Creating and Editing Custom Themes
- Creating Custom Widgets with PHP
- Creating Custom Widgets and Plugins with PHP
- View Source (some WordPress content)
Some of the WordPress courses on Lynda.com as a few years old but the content should still hold true. While the selection of WordPress development specific courses is limited, there are many PHP and MySQL courses which are ideal for anyone new to those essential languages.
Tuts+ WordPress Video Courses
If you join Tuts+ Premium, you not only get access to a selection of training courses on developing for WordPress, but also a hundreds of other tutorials, 727 hours of courses and 99 top-selling ebooks, covering all aspects of development and design.
Here are the courses that aspiring WordPress devs will find most useful:
- Widgets: Front to Back
- Plugin Development Essentials
- Using the WordPress Settings API
- Advanced WordPress Plugin Development
There is also a vast selection of tutorials at WP Tuts+ covering WordPress development for themes, plugins and more.
Other Videos Courses from Around the Web:
Plugin Development Tutorials
Pippin is a well-known plugin developer who has produced some great work for the WordPress community. His site contains a wealth of tutorials for those delving into the world of plugin development. By sharing his knowledge gained from developing a large selection of plugins, you can learn from his insights and experience:
Books for WP Devs
Working through a book can be an inexpensive way to immerse yourself in your chosen topic. Thankfully there have been quite a few books written on the topic of WordPress development, covering everything from creating themes and plugins, to beefing up WordPress security and improving optimization. Here are some of the most popular books on WordPress development:
- Professional WordPress: Design and Development
- WP 3 Ultimate Security
- Professional WordPress Plugin Development
- Digging into WordPress
Besides the above, there are countless other books covering WordPress development available on amazon.com
Ask for Help
Once you’ve put in the groundwork acquainting yourself with PHP for WordPress, you can begin taking your first tentative steps towards creating something new or modifying an existing project. A few good places to solicit advice on your creations can be found online and accessed for free:
Follow the Leaders
Thanks to Twitter, it’s never been easier to tap into the thoughts of some of the most prominent WordPress developers. By following the top developers on Twitter, you will be able to find out what resources they’ve deemed useful as well as discover what projects they are working on and shipping. In time you could even use the medium to reach out to them for advice and critique of your completed projects.
Here are some established WordPress developers who are active on Twitter:
- Andrew Nacin
- Becky Davis
- Cory Miller
- Dee Teal
- Justin Tadlock
- Mark Jaquith
- Nathan Rice
- Pippin Williamson
- Tom McFarlin
For further insight into the minds of some of these figures, take a look at the Code Poet interviews archive.
Take a Course
If you are lucky enough to live near a facility that offers courses in WordPress development then signing up for one is a great way to kick-start your transformation from blogger to developer. While you may have to do a bit of legwork in order to find courses in your local area, a good one is worth searching out.
However, if there isn’t a course operating offline, you can take part in a course that is delivered online. One such option is the
WordPress Developer Course (discontinued) offered by Your Website Engineer. This online course runs between set dates but is available to those in any location. Running for four weeks, you can really get immersed in the subject matter and take your time consuming all the knowledge that is imparted.
You can jump right in at the deep end on the developer documentation pages of the WordPress Codex. Here you can find guidelines and references for anyone who wants to modify or extend WordPress, by writing their own plugin or working with APIs. Prior programming knowledge is assumed so those yet to get started might want to avoid this content for now:
- Visit the Developer Documentation pages
Becoming a WordPress developer can seem like a big step up from being a power-user who knows their way around the admin dashboard and has a good handle on what functionality can be deployed by existing plugins. However, with so much information available online, both free and premium, there is nothing but a little time and effort preventing you from taking your first steps.
If you’ve ever thought, ‘I’d have done that differently’ or ‘I wish there was a theme that looked like this’, then taking a closer look at the resources out there to support the transition from user to developer could help you realise your goals.
Where are you in the process of becoming a WordPress developer? What was your method for learning the necessary skills and what was your motivation?