I know HTML, CSS, and JS. How do I take my first stab at WordPress development?

I have intermediate knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. While I realize that PHP knowledge is required to be a WP developer, I’d still like to know where I could start researching how developing for WP is different from just opening a code editor and start creating a website locally.

Is building a custom website in WordPress basically the same as developing a theme, or is there a difference?

Is there any course (Udemy/Pluralsight/Youtube/elsewhere) you could recommend that could help somebody with coding knowledge to get started with WP?

Thank you for your help!

  1. Maybe don’t though? In my experience, if you just wanna structure and distribute content, and build organic traffic, WordPress is awesome. But if you wanna build stuff, probably better off continuing with javascript. Have you tried Next.js?

  2. Agency based WP dev here.

    WordPress development is theme (or plugin) development. It’s the same thing. It’s an interesting but slightly confusing time to get into WordPress development, but don’t let that put you off. The community is in a state of flux since the introduction of the Gutenberg block system. It’s a radical shift from what came before it and a lot of agencies (including the two I’ve worked in) don’t want to make the shift. Therefore, they will install the Classic Editor plugin to get “old WordPress” back and build custom modules using Advanced Custom Fields.

    You’ll still need to use your existing experience but yes PHP is needed as well. You don’t need extensive PHP knowledge to build a custom WordPress theme though, you should be able to figure most of it out, especially if you’re familiar with core programming concepts.

    I’d recommend downloading a copy of the Local by Flywheel app to very quickly spin up a local (ha) version of WordPress, then read the Advanced Custom Fields documentation as well as the WordPress Theme Developer handbook. Both are excellent resources to get started.

  3. Nowadays you can bypass the PHP thing and build a code using ReactJS, Next or whatever and fetching the content through REST.

    The traditional (And most used way of doing things) is using PHP though.

    Themes are what give WordPress website the looks and the front-end functionality, while the WordPress CMS provides the backend and where you will be setting up the content (Text, media content, etc).

    From its core, WordPress provides limited functionality, however, there are thousand plugins and themes that extend the core to infinity and beyond. Usually, if you want to modify how WordPress shows the content (Like creating a list of posts or so) you want to build it using a theme.

    If you want to modify or extend core functionality (Like building an email form) you use plugins. Coding a WordPress plugin is somewhat similar to building a theme.

    As for courses, I don’t know any as I learnt by having a necessity and then googling but I’m entirelty sure there will be courses out there.

    Be aware that the WordPress community is packed with developers and designers, and nowadays many projects can be done without coding so building a career out of this platform might not be the best way to go.


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