Complete Study Guide for WordPress Website Creation
The Complete Guide to Learning WordPress
Learning WordPress can be a very long road for an inexperienced programmer. This guide can help you go from illiterate programmer to quadrillionaire freelance programmer. It is intended as an overview of the steps required to become a competent WordPress developer. This guide can help the experienced and inexperienced alike understand WordPress.
Don’t believe the myths
When learning any field of programming (yes, you will need to learn), there are a lot of myths that come with it. Much is hype about click bait articles preying on the ignorant. So I’m just going to expose the three most persistent myths that I see today:
- No, you CANNOT learn to code in 24 hours. Or a week. Or a month. To learn the entire world of programming, you must first become an immortal being with a clear schedule. You can learn some of the basics in 24 hours, but you’ll never finish learning new programming skills (unless you’re lazy).
- At the opposite end of the scale there is a myth that says that you will have to be a genius with the incredible powers of mathematics. There is nothing further from the truth. You’d be surprised how many potato heads you have to deal with in the field and how little actual math you will use.
- Perhaps my favorite: there is no point in learning to code when there are tools to make websites. This is the most aggravating because it is the most difficult to explain. But simply put, the question “why do I need to learn to code, if I have a WordPress theme?” can be answered with the following question “where would the themes come from if there were no programmers”. The same goes for web development tools. There are no tools on planet earth that can write more tools, except programmers. Also, any tool that exists or does exist comes with severe limitations. But that is a larger topic.
Yes, you have to learn the basics of programming.
Once again, you yell “Why do I need to learn to code? It’s WordPress!” I think the more you learn about WordPress, the more you will learn how limited it is.
Here is the secret. WordPress is a platform, not a web development tool. Which means that much of the heavy lifting still requires you to flex your brain a bit and program. Here are some problems you may run into if you don’t learn to program beforehand:
- My theme is great! But I hate the styling of footer widgets.
- I want to create a membership site and I need the x functionality, but there is no plugin.
- I want to create a membership site, but my plugins conflict.
- Turns out the theme I bought has a big problem and I honestly think the theme developer is dead.
What would you do in these situations if you didn’t know how to program?
Now, learn the basics of programming
Before starting your journey to learn HTML and CSS, you should take a moment and relax, so that you can launch a study program in your head.
The things you will need to learn before you return are as follows:
- HTML: The basic components of your website’s interface (the screen). Personal recommendation: Common mistakes can be corrected with a firm understanding of inline, inline block, and block level items, as well as a firm understanding of relative versus absolute positioning.
- CSS – This is your website’s secret sauce. Imagine your HTML is a paint-by-numbers grid, and CSS is paint. All websites use CSS.
- PHP: this is the black box of the website. Nobody sees it more than you. It’s what really creates all the functionality, thinks about everything, and delivers the content for your website. This is what real “programming” is. Learn it.
- MySQL – Databases are where everything is stored on your website. You will need to learn how to safely interact with the database with PHP. Look for parameterized queries.
Setting up WordPress
There are a couple of ways to install WordPress on your website. The easiest is through your cPanel account. Usually there is a program in your cPanel that will install WordPress for you. For example, QuickInstall has a one-click installation for WordPress. Another way is to download the WordPress source files and upload them to your server via FTP.
After installing WordPress, you’ll want to log into your WordPress site to set things up. There are many guides to setting up your WordPress site through the backend, but the basics you will need to learn are as follows:
- Installing Your Site Theme: Even if you plan to create your own theme, it is advisable to set someone else’s theme to base your work on. This will serve as a great starting point for your website.
- Get familiar with the plugins – they are easy to install and will provide most of the functionality of your website.
- Menus – Learn where they are and how to set them. You can create menus that can be used anywhere on your website.
- Widgets – Widgets should not be confused with plugins. Widgets are user interface elements (like a Twitter feed), while plugins are groups of files that can potentially make radical changes to the functionality of your site.
- Know the difference between pages and posts. These things have very different and separate purposes.
This will give you enough ammo to set up a basic website. However, if you want something a little less basic, you will have to continue.
How is the content delivered to the user?
It is useful to know how WordPress takes your content and presents it to the end user.
If you have learned php, you probably know how a website is presented to the user. If not, and you’ve made it this far, you’re a shameful human being and deserve a thousand-cut death. It sounds silly, but it is very useful to know how the browser interprets the data and what is the purpose of PHP to complete the content, how the website is compiled, etc.
Themes define the way WordPress presents content to a user. They do this with php files that serve as templates to display certain parts of your website, such as the page of a blog post or the header. They also include CSS and php files and can even provide functionality to a website.
I suggest that you learn what you will have to provide on your topics. There are also certain rules that you must follow if WordPress is going to recognize your theme. However, the main parts will be: the header, the index page, the sidebar, the footer, functions.php and the stylesheet.
One more thing you can come across is page templates. Page templates are simply different ways of displaying any page on a site. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, search for “page template”, in fact do it anyway.
Also learn about the types of posts. Everything on your website is a post type, be it pages, posts, or attachments. A page template is a template for a certain type of post. Learning about the types of posts can clear up a lot of confusion along the way.
There are lists of all the global variables that WordPress provides, ranging from the content you provide to users to information about the visitors themselves. Don’t bother memorizing them, just reference them on the fly and familiarize yourself with the type of global variables WordPress provides you. If you can’t find them, you may need to add the functionality yourself, either as a plugin or just in the function.php file. Global variables are essential in WordPress development.
Plugins allow you to add functionality to your website or others. There is actually a huge market for WordPress plugins. It’s a great way to earn massive amounts of cocaine and earn some reputation in the coding community.
Basically, plugins are groups of files that alter or add functionality to websites. However, there are certain rules for setting your files for WordPress to read.
It is also important to learn when to add things to functions.php instead of creating a plugin.
Hooks: actions and filters
Hooks will allow you to “connect” one of your functions to WordPress, so that it runs at a specific time. If you don’t use hooks, many kinds of functions would not be possible. Believe me when I say that learning what they are and how to use them will save your life and unleash a world of possibilities.
Make sure you learn the difference between the two and how to use them. This knowledge will allow you to greatly alter the functionality of WordPress and will greatly open the doors for the functionality of your site.
Actions are hooks that allow you to execute a function when a certain WordPress event occurs. For example, when you create a post, you may want to update a value in your database.
Filters allow you to modify data at certain times. When you configure a filter, WordPress will pass data through it before completing a task. If WordPress is about to display a login error, you can choose to change or modify that error message before it is presented to the user. Maybe something like “Stay back, scammer, this is my grandmother’s heirloom!” or “I don’t want your dirty eyes staring at my website, you filthy hacker!”
Naturally, for everything to be assimilated, you have to practice. However, if you want to be like me from the start, you can find a little job online and get started right away. The pressure should help you keep trying to learn. If you fuck someone, you can always direct them to me.
However, if you want to take the safest route, I suggest you do the following:
Rent a small package of shared hosting (you can spend a few dollars a month), choose a topic and create a small blog website. (Make it something you would like to use! In fact, use it!).
You can also use a local server on your computer, if you don’t feel like spending money and you really don’t want to share your work with anyone.
When you’ve learned how to use WordPress, start another little site. However, this time be a bit more ambitious and this time try to put all the functions yourself. If you are confused about something, you can always scam someone else’s work and learn from them.
If that seems like a lot. It is. WordPress is a much larger theme than many people assume at first. However, if you take it one bite at a time, you will eventually learn everything you need to, when it comes to creating WordPress websites. It is a skill that is in high demand and does not require a degree. Keep connecting and you will find out it was worth it!
Hopefully, this guide will help you become a solid WordPress developer.