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How to build your WordPress developer tech skills and change your life

WordPress Developer tech skills

How do you build your tech skills as a WordPress Developer? Today we are going to take a look at this topic. Let’s dive in, shall we?

There’s no doubt that the web game has changed. If you remember some 15 or 20 years ago when a person built a website, they did everything there was to do.

I remember my first website for someone other than myself. I was allowed to build a website for my church. It was an honor and quite an experience.

The church had a local Internet Service Provider which gave them a certain amount of storage to host a website. Remember those days?

So, I used FrontPage Express and began building the site. I learned a lot of things along the way. I learned how a developer could use tables to make a unique layout. Wow, those were the days!

A webmaster did everything. He or she had to manage the site, upload files to the server, usually via an FTP client software, change any content that had to be changed, create and answer messages from the forms they set up for their website.

These days, I’m not sure what you would call that person. A unicorn perhaps?

We have front-end developers, designers, server admins, and use a plethora of technologies to run a website. It begs to be asked, if I am a WordPress developer, what skills do I need to have? But what are you called? A WordPress Developer? A WordPress Designer? A WordPress Builder? A WordPress Consultant? How about Website Designer, Website Consultant. . . etc.?

Everything is so specialized now.

If you are reading this blog post at MainWP, you probably take care of maintenance for your client’s WordPress website. Some people specialize in this service.

What skills have you picked up along the way? How are you continuing to learn? What skills do you need to learn to move forward?

So, let’s just go with the idea you need to learn how to build a WordPress website.

If you are going to build a WordPress website, you are going to need skills at some level in HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, and some server administration. You can surely be a WordPress consultant without knowing all those skills well, but these are the core skills for building a WordPress website.

Thankfully, with the internet, you can find ways to develop these skills. There are online courses, workshops, bootcamps, blogs, community forms, and hands-on ways to learn. It all depends on your best way of learning.

Here are some things you can do to improve your skills as a WordPress developer.

Build a website
Build a website

Build a website

One of the best things you can do is build a website. I know what you are saying, “no kidding Sherlock!” The brilliance in learning by building a website is that you pick up skills as you go. It can be as easy as getting a WordPress install and customizing the default theme. I remember doing that with the Kubrick theme. Of course, these days, Kubrick is retired from WordPress’ default theme.

Try your best to emulate a website. Pick something simple if you need to, but choose something to stretch you.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. When you run into problems, there is a host of WordPress communities to learn from.

That all starts with the original WordPress community. Once you’ve created an account at WordPress.org, you can sign up for the Slack chat room. There you have access to conversations from some of the best WordPress developers in the world. Many of them love paying it forward as we have all been helped along the way.

Take a Course

There are several courses out there and you can learn anything from building a website to learning various skills you need to be a WordPress developer. Recently, I visited with developer Rishad Quazi who explained how he was able to level up his skills with various courses.

Some of the various courses he mentioned were Web design & Development Masterclass by YouAccel, Udemy, Udacity, Coursera, OPENedX, and freecodecamp.

Many of these classes are free. Additionally, there are many more courses on the internet that teach several skills.  

Read Blog posts

Some of the top WordPress developers create tutorials in the form of blog posts. Often, they write about a problem the encountered and how they were able to solve the problem. Some, like WP Beginner, will even help you get started with WordPress.

Below, I have listed a few articles that roundup some of the best resources.

The Best WordPress Tutorial Websites That Every WordPress User Should Know About [2014]

The Best 15 WordPress Tutorials for Beginners and Advanced Developers [2017]

25 brilliant WordPress tutorials [2017]

18+ Great Resources To Learn How To Use WordPress Like A Pro

Read a book

I remember when I started working with WordPress, I got a copy of WordPress All-in-One For Dummies by Lisa Sabin-Wilson. I didn’t read every page, but I gained some valuable information looking through that book.

WordPress recommends several books. Below are a couple more lists that may help.

Top 12 WordPress Books To Add To Your Collection

Top WordPress Books To Learn WordPress in 2017

Join a group
Join a group

Join a group

Yup, groups are helpful. Whether you join a class setting, start going to your local WordPress meetup, attend a WordCamp, join a specific WordPress Slack group, or hop into one of the many WordPress Facebook groups, it helps to have others who offer advice, give you direction and encourage your development.

If you have trouble deciding which groups to join, start with your friends or network. Find out which ones they are part or choose one that closest aligns with your niche or WordPress choice of tools. Maybe you can start by joining the MainWP Users Group. From there, you can find and get suggestions of other groups to join.

Another community to join is the WP Developers Club. If Reddit is more your speed, well, there’s a community there as well.

Be Proactive

Many times in Facebook Groups I see people asking for information. They become lazy. They want people to spoon feed them what they need to know. Look, asking questions is how we learn, but if you don’t dive in and research on your own, you are shortchanging your learning process.

All of the resources above are available to anyone who wants to learn. Frankly, there are way more resources than the ones I have mentioned. I have left out more than I could possibly know about. Join a group, take a course, Google how to do things, soak in knowledge from others, but don’t expect people to just give you all the answers.

Be proactive and try to learn, ask when you are stuck, progress, and then pay it forward. Being a WordPress developer can be very rewarding. There are fewer better feelings than creating a site for a client that helps their business.

Wrapping it all up

You remember those times when you get a nice present and there is a bow on top. You anticipate the feeling you will have when you open that gift. I remember one Christmas a kid waiting to open one of my gifts. That shiny wrapping paper encouraged my glee.

I already knew what the gift was, but the anticipation was half the joy.

You are standing on the edge of opening a gift. That gift, my friend, is more advanced skills that can change your world. Take a stroll through HeroPress and read the stories. The skills that each developer learned changed their life, and it can change yours too.

When you are helping customers manage an online business using WordPress, you can trust MainWP to be a valued partner, helping you with maintenance, backups, security and much more. Get started today!

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Todd Jones
Along with being the resident writer for MainWP and content hacker at Copyflight, I specialize in writing about startups, entrepreneurs, social media, WordPress and inbound marketing topics.
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