Where to learn WordPress development

just-build-websitesI had the pleasure of being a guest on WPwatercooler today, where we talked about where to go to learn WordPress. I thought I’d share more in a post here.

How I learned

My perspective as a learner is centered around development — mostly theme development. I was introduced to WordPress in 2008 and by 2010 I knew it was something I wanted to do full time.

Today, I often learn WordPress by writing about it. I started Post Status partly as a way to keep learning about WordPress. When I write about a topic, I dig in deep to make sure I understand it. Writing helps me learn and learning helps me write.

My college degree was in industrial engineering, which was a great way to learn to think, but I didn’t really learn anything about programming. So when I started, I had to start with the absolute basics.

I devoured blogs and other resources to learn my craft. Below is a list or resources and communities that I recommend for new and experienced developers alike:

Free Communities

There are many helpful communities around WordPress, and the point is to get involved somewhere you can meet other people with similar goals to your own. Here are some places you may want to check out:

  • WordPress.org — WordPress.org support forums are full of questions and answers for others that have been in the same situations you’ll find yourself in. Moderated by a number of excellent volunteers, don’t forget about this official community resource.
  • WordPress Development on Stack Exchange — An excellent developer-centric community where some of the most advanced WordPress developers help others.
  • WordPress on Reddit — The WordPress subreddit is a consistent community of folks that help one another.
  • ProWordPress on Reddit — Similar to the WordPress subreddit, but a smaller community on more advanced topics.
  • AdvancedWP – AdvancedWP has quickly become a must-visit page for me. It’s a Facebook group, which was tough for me to swallow, but it’s so good and so active that I find myself going back again and again.
  • ManageWP.org — Like Hacker News for WordPress, ManageWP.org is a niche but good community.
  • CSS-Tricks Forums — Chris Coyier’s excellent CSS-Tricks site has a forum component that often has WordPress topics pop up. It’s good to keep a toe in the more general web community too, and this is a great community to do so with.
  • WordSesh — WordSesh is a free online conference organized by Scott Basgaard. It’s 24 hours of live streamed content, but it’s also all available after the fact. WordSesh’s first two conferences have been amazing, and I look forward to this continuing for a long time.
  • Twitter — Twitter is the watercooler for many professional WordPress folks. Envato evangelist Japh Thomson’s WordPress list is a great place to start if you’re not already embedded there.
  • WordPress meetups — Most midsize and large cities have WordPress meetups. They are typically free, and they’re a great way to get to know folks in your own town working with WordPress. Go, get involved, and learn from one another. You can search for a meetup near you on Meetup.com.

Free Resources

Here are some of the blogs that I recommend for learning WordPress.

  • wpMailme — This is a free newsletter that collects new tutorials, product releases, and more. I never miss it.
  • Make WordPress — The Make WordPress blogs are the heartbeat of WordPress itself. Find your niche, and dig in to these blogs. You can see what’s coming, get insights to best practices, and much more.
  • PippinsPlugins — I often prefix my Google searches with Pippin’s website. He writes great tutorials and is an outstanding developer.
  • Tom McFarlin — Tom talks more about why than how on his personal blog, and it is a great way to get into the mind of one of the best WordPress developers I can think of.
  • Chris Lema — Chris blogs every day, mostly about WordPress. He’s got some really great deep dive posts on topics like membership and eCommerce, but I make a point to read his new posts every day.
  • Curtis McHale — Curtis is a prolific WordPress blogger. Between his personal site and WP Theme Tutorial, you are sure to learn about development as well as many lessons he’s learned running his own freelance business.
  • Bill Erickson — Bill is an outstanding developer with a specialty in Genesis, and his blog and code snippet collection are both terrific.
  • WP Tavern — More WordPress news than developer learning, but you should keep an eye on WP Tavern to stay in the loop on all things WordPress.
  • WPShout – Fred and Dave took over WPShout last year, and they’re doing nice work pushing new content every week. The topics range from general WordPress insight, to more in-depth tutorials, to interviews.
  • WP Theming – Devin Price consistently blogs about intermediate to advanced WordPress topics. He really knows his stuff and I’ve often found myself learning new things on his site.
  • WP Beginner — A great place to learn beginner-level WordPress.
  • Wptuts+ — A tutorial blog that’s really matured into an excellent resource.
  • Smashing WordPress — Smashing Magazine’s WordPress section has published a number of quality articles over the last few years.
  • ThemeShaper — An official property of Automattic, WordPress.com theme wranglers share their experience and knowledge building world-class WordPress themes on ThemeShaper. If you are building themes at all, you have to subscribe to ThemeShaper.
  • SellWithWP — An excellent blog for all things eCommerce with WordPress.
  • Paulund — Paul posts new articles and tutorials every week, and they are always thorough and interesting.
  • Konstantin Kovshenin — Konstantin is an experienced developer with an active blog, where he often shares his techniques for better WordPress development practices.
  • Eric Mann — Eric is one of the most advanced WordPress bloggers that consistently writes. His posts are thought provoking and often lead me to investigating programming topics I have never even heard of.
  • Franz Josef Kaiser — Another advanced blog, Franz gets into the finer details of WordPress development. This is a fun site for those that get bored by more generic WordPress topics.
  • WP Lift — WP Lift is Oli Dale’s WordPress blog. There more theme roundups than I can count, but my favorite thing Oli does are his news roundups, where he usually finds an article or two I haven’t seen yet.
  • Code Poet — Maintained my Automattic, Code Poet has been quietly recently but over the past couple of years has been a great resource for interviews, links to articles, and some high-quality free ebooks.
  • Yoast — Joost de Valk and his team on Yoast.com are always writing new things to learn from. He specializes in SEO topics but they have a broad knowledge of all things WordPress development.
  • WordPress podcasts — There are a number of good WordPress podcasts that are good for picking up bits of knowledge. Last year, I wrote about WordPress podcasts I listen to. The list is still mostly relevant, and I’ll be keeping it updated going forward so it will continue to be a useful list.
  • WordPress.tv — WordPress.tv is where WordCamp and other event videos go to live forever. The best WordPress presenters in the world end up on this site, and there are some absolute gems here. The site is categorized topic, event, or speaker, so it’s super useful.

Membership resources and communities

  • WPSessions — WPSessions is a project by Brian Richards that’s one of the most promising I’ve ever seen. Each session has a very specific topic with three or so presenters that are experts. The sessions last an afternoon and are deep dives into various WordPress topics. Whether you’re a new developer or very experiencde, WPSessions is a great place to learn.
  • Lynda.com — Lynda is one of the largest learning sites on the planet. Their WordPress authors have great reputations and they have tons of courses.
  • Treehouse — Treehouse is a beautiful way to learn the web. WordPress is a major focus area for them, and their WordPress library is always expanding. This is probably the most structured way to learn.
  • WebDesign.com — WebDesign.com is a community run by the fine folks at iThemes, and boasts hundreds of hours of WordPress and general web training. They’ve been running this site for a long time, and it’s definitely a resource worth exploring to see if it’s right for your learning.
  • BobWP — Getting started with WordPress and want to learn by video? Bob Dunn’s courses can show you the ropes for working with WordPress, specifically for those using Genesis or WooThemes products.
  • WP101 — WP101 is video centric WordPress learning. It can even be embedded into the WordPress dashboard. This is beginner focused, but a terrific resource.
  • Theme Hybrid — Justin Tadlock’s community is centered around his theme framework, but is also a great resource for general WordPress topics. It’s where I did a huge percentage of my early learning. This small and engaged community was a great way to learn, and it’s an incredible deal at $29 per year. I started by asking questions about WordPress or questions specific to Justin’s themes and plugins, but over time I was able to start answering questions and help others.
  • StudioPress Forums — The Genesis theme community is huge and very tight knit group that thousands of people swear by.
  • Matt Report Pro — Matt Medeiros’ new Matt Report Pro community is another place you can get together with a smaller group of WordPress entrepreneurs (many of which are developers).
  • WordPress books — WordPress.org has a good list of books, if that’s your style.
  • Product specific communities — Most WordPress theme and plugin companies have community forums, and if you’re consistently using the same products, those community forums are a gold mine. So whatever your community is, check out their forums if they have them.

Right here

Since you’ve found your way to this website, I hope you consider Post Status a pretty good place to get high-quality WordPress information. I use these resources I’ve listed, and many more, and I try to deliver the best of the best to my readers.

So once you’ve gotten bit by the WordPress bug, I hope you’ll consider Post Status one of your go-to resources. And sign up for the newsletter to get hand written summaries each week, right to your inbox.

The code

Digging into themes, plugins, and core WordPress code is tough to beat. Query Posts  is an awesome place to go if you want to start with a function, because it gives you the basics and then redirects you to your favorite places for viewing the core code itself.

Do the same with the themes and plugins you love and use the most.

Just build websites

Perhaps the most important mantra someone trying to learn can live by is “just build websites.” I’ve borrowed this slogan from Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert on the Shoptalk Show, and it is just so true.

There is no better way to learn than by doing. So, get yourself set up and build a website. It doesn’t matter if someone paid you or not; you can build something just for yourself.

Just start building, use some of these resources I’ve listed to help you out, and you’ll be amazed how quickly you improve.

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  1. I remember asking you how you got so good so fast about a year and half ago. At the time, this post would have been pure gold, but as you correctly pointed out, we really learn by doing, so that’s what I did, and it’s what I totally recommend. You just have to put in the time. For someone getting started with WordPress development, this is a crazy-valuable post that will be immensely helpful and time-saving and all these resources are spot-on.

    I’m also eagerly looking forward to the next WordSesh as well!

  2. Great resource reference, Brian, and thanks for the mention of my WordPress list. I had no idea anyone else was aware of it besides me! 🙂

  3. While I think lists like these have their uses, I generally put them in a similar realm as “50 plugins to show popular posts in your sidebar.” If I am actually looking to learn WP development, I still have no clue where to start. I can do a search and find a long list of resources. Real value is in giving a recommendation on which to choose, even if it is based on your opinion and experience.

    It’s still a nice list for someone who has experience, but maybe has never run across http://unserkaiser.com/ before and finds it a nice resource. I just don’t think it’s accomplishing much for someone new to the field.

    That said, I don’t like when people complain without providing a better solution. My go to resource for people getting into WP is usually http://digwp.com/book/ . It is continually updated, well formatted and presented, organized, and very detailed. http://www.wp101.com/ is great for an end-user who is not familiar at all with WordPress. And http://code.tutsplus.com/categories/wordpress is good for tutorials on specific things you might want to do in your theme or plugin.

    1. Matthias,

      I’m disappointed you compare it to one of those types of list. That is far from my intention. In fact, I hate those lists. Honestly, this *is* my paired down list. I read much more than this, a list of sites I’ve curated over a number of years as reliable resources.

      I could have highlighted just a couple, sure. But what works for one person isn’t what works for all people. So instead, I tried to give a good introduction to the sites that I personally find value from, or know that an overwhelming number of other people I trust find value from.

      That’s how I made the decision to list these.

      1. First – my apologies, I didn’t mean to come across so mean! I did find some value from your post and I’m sure many others did as well. So I’m not trying to say it’s useless (and the comparison was harsher than it should have been!)

        I just think it would have been great if you had, for example, said why someone should do the Lynda videos versus the Treehouse videos. The WordPress.org list of books does the same thing. Curating a list of books is great, but I can also search “wordpress” on Amazon and come up with a similar list. What’s really valuable (to me) is an expert’s opinion on why one resource is better than the others.

  4. Surprised that WebDesign.com didn’t even get mentioned in the Membership section. Considering we have been doing it for years, have a library of over 600+ hours, and are about to do our 10th WordPress Developer Course (a 20+ hour course alone), and do it all live.

    1. Hey Benjamin, that’s a good add. I definitely missed sites I know to be good. I’ve been adding back those that I forget. Wasn’t a knock to webdesign.com, just my memory 🙂

  5. Great list! Having a list of reliable resources like this is awesome! I also think wpmudev.org should definitely be on there under memberships sites. Great resource for everything multi-site related.

  6. This is most useful list for any WP beginner to refer to. Thanks for the author as you are greatly helping for the beginners who are struggling for study references.

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