WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms and content management systems on the planet. Created by Matt Mullenweg and the team at Automattic, it’s an open source and free tool using PHP and MySQL for creating just about any kind of site you can imagine.
Today I’m going to cover a load of resources for getting yourself familiar with WordPress, what it can do, and how to expand and develop for it.
Before we get into the technical stuff, we need to cover the basics. You won’t get very far if you don’t know how to install it or navigate its interface.
The WordPress Codex
This might be the single best starting point. Coming straight from the source, every single person new to WordPress needs to read the getting started guid on the WordPress Codex. This guide describes where to start from the very beginning: what a weblog is really all about. It continues from there to making a plan regarding your hosting situation, installation, setting up, working with themes and plugins, and finally getting into some more advanced topics.
Another great beginner guide comes from WPBeginner.com. Like the Codex but more summarized, the guide from WPBeginner gets you running WordPress “in a week (or less).”
If you’re looking for a hosted solution, there’s always WordPress.com. With that comes a great guide on getting started there from the folks that make WordPress.com happen. If you’ve never used WordPress before, WordPress.com might be the single easiest way to get familiar with the software before diving into hosting it on your own.
If you want a good overview on how to make a good quality plugin, Hongkiat has you covered. They cover basic folder structures, naming conventions, best practices, filter, and more.
Tuts+ – Jeffery Way
Jeffery Way has a crash course on plugin development in video format on Tuts+.com and covers all the basics to make a good plugin. In this scenario, Way covers how they made an actual plugin to serve a real-world purpose and how he planned it out.
Plugin development is only a small part of a successful and well-oiled WordPress site. the other portion is a quality theme. Why? Your theme is what people see and having it work properly and be as efficient as possible practically goes without saying.
If you want to make your own theme, you can, should you have the proper front-end development skills. The Codex has a rather extensive list of lessons on various elements of theme developments.
Tuts+ – Sam Parkinson
Another WordPress pro, Sam Parkinson, has a rather exhaustive tutorial on creating a WordPress theme from scratch. Parkinson covers the structure of a theme, what the files should look like, and what various functions look like that you’ll likely be using.
It’s ok to admit that you’re not good at developing WordPress themes. I’ll admit that, too. Here’s a list of my favorite theme developers.
Their shop doesn’t have a lot in it, yet, but the quality is great and the price points are exactly where they need to be.
This shop has been around for a while and their list of themes is extensive. At the time of this article, they have 87 themes that come as one large package for $69. That comes out to be around $.80 a theme. if you’re a developer or want lifetime access, you’re looking at still low prices of $89/year or $249 one time.
He’s been in it for a while and his collection of themes serves a wide audience and great support comes with each theme. You can buy each theme individually or get access to the whole collection for $199.
It’s also OK to go with a free WordPress theme if you’re finding what you looking for without spending any money. Frankly, WordPress themes can be expensive, too.
The team behind Modern Themes is shooting for creating quality themes that don’t cost money. Just because a theme doesn’t have a price tag on it, doesn’t mean it has to be sub-par. Modern Themes hosts a variety of themes that cost zero dollars, with premium options that offer up additional features for a fraction of the price of most premium themes.
A Swedish developer, Anders Noren creates great WordPress themes, mostly for free. As someone who’s used several of this themes in the past, I can vouch for the quality.
The WordPress Theme Directory is the go-to repository for every WordPress.org approved theme. Each of the themes on this site meet strict quality standards and there are literally thousands to choose from.
if you’re rocking a hosted WordPress site on WordPress.com, this site will become a favorite for you. At least 345 themes are featured here of both free and premium varieties.
Extra: All-Encompassing Video Courses
If you like video training, Lynda has just about anything you could hope for, including WordPress. Prices are great at least than $30 a month.
If you’re a fan of a track-based development course that covers the whole gamut of WordPress development, Team Treehouse has a course you’ll be interested in. It covers the basics like going over the Codex, getting a local development environment set up, theming and templating, Bootstrap, customizing the administration panel, and more. It really is an all-in-one course. Treehouse isn’t free, but for $25/month, you can consume as many courses of their as you like.
Great free training and lectures from key players in the WordPress community. If you miss various WordPress events, you might also find them here.
Udemy is good for more than programming courses. WordPress development and administration is on their menu, too, and prices are hard to beat.
A great video library that you can browse on their site. Created by Shawn Hesketh, a 26-year freelance development guy, he’s made likely a literal ton of WordPress sites for his clients. His tutorials have helped over 100,000 people get into WordPress and build their own sites.