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Moving forward with Wordpress and specializing

A short story: I have been updating my web developing skills because I need to refocus my career.

I've been managing e-commerce and content sites for a long time but I abandoned coding many years ago. Right now after doing a few refresher courses on HTML, CSS and the wordpress course I've run into a roadblock because I don't know PHP or Javascript yet. But I need to start developing a few sites for a couple of clients. Leaving the coding to programmers and focusing on the content and the management of a website wasn't the best decision I made so I don't want to do that again. However, I don't think I can keep going with more videos and courses on PHP and Javascript because I'm already pretty overwhelmed.

When I started to see WP functions and loops and extending wordpress functionality I got a bit discouraged and I don´t really know how to keep going forward.

Should I plunge into PHP and Javascript? Should I use a framework? Should I look into other CMS (I'm really intrigued by Perch)

My goal is to be able to build small-ish sites for solo professionals,small businesses and bloggers, a bit of e-commerce.

I guess this question is directed to those who have already passed the beginner phase and have some sort of workflow that helps you to keep learning by making things and not just passively taking courses and doing code challenges.

Any comments, suggestions, advice would be so welcome.
Right now I'm still ploughing through the Wordpress course but I was looking at things like Genesis and Headway but I'm not sure I understand them well yet. I much rather keep learnign how to make my sites myself but it seems it will take me years to learn everything I would need.


5 Answers

I use Genesis extensively. It's a great framework, but to make really useful customizations you'll need to know PHP. A lot of the modifications involve editing the functions.php file or using Simple Hooks to stick code into the loop at various points.

I was in a similar situation as you. I started the Javascript Deep Dive and basically drowned. :-P What saved me was going through the Intro to Programming module instead. This made much more sense to me as someone who was not even remotely familiar with common programming concepts like strings, variables, arrays, etc. Now when I look at any programming language (including PHP and Javascript), it's much easier to spot commonalities. It doesn't make you suddenly fluent in everything, but in my experience it was an excellent foundation for moving into programming. I then did Randy's PHP course and learned how these programming basics apply to PHP specifically.

So, in short:

  • Intro to Programming
  • PHP beginner project (at least)
  • WordPress courses
  • Javascript Deep Dive
James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

The JavaScript Foundations videos in the JavaScript Foundations course are kinda dry and there aren't any code challenges or exercises just quizzes. So my suggestion is to substitute JavaScript Foundations for Learn Street's JavaScript course which no videos just code challenges.

Thank you Sharon, this is exactly what I needed to know. Right now I feel like I'm learning to crochet, I can make all these granny squares but I can't make a whole quilt... So I've learned HTML and CSS (learned is a big word! I need to practice more) but then I just fell on my face when trying to work with wordpress. So I will follow your advice and start with Intro to programming.


Pedro Baumann
Pedro Baumann
12,815 Points

I had the same problem with the advaced WordPress, and I decided to go for the PHP course before continuing. If you have any programming language skills it's really easy and enlighting. Otherwise I personally think that programming languages take a lot of time to learn if you aren't familiar with the basic concepts in any language.

I know is a short answer but I hope it helps you decde wether to go for PHP or not.

Thanks. I don't have programming skills, so I will definitely start with intro to programming before going for PHP.

Zac Gordon
Zac Gordon
Treehouse Guest Teacher

If you make the decision to not get into programming then your WordPress skills will remain in the field of building sites using plugins and themes, but no template customization. I presented recently on the topic of how Setting Up and Customizing Themes is a Marketable WordPress Skill Set. In my opinion this is a very acceptable direction to go.

That said, even with Perch you will have to know some simple PHP tags, although much less than WordPress. You will also be more limited by the features.

Hope this helps!

Thank you Zac,

I do want to learn PHP mostly because I want to apply to certain jobs that require working programming knowledge and also because I love to redesign my site a million times over so I want to be able to build it in HTML and then convert it to either Worpdress or Perch.

I had to stop your Worpdress course when I just couldn't follow anymore with PHP functions.. so I'll take a detour to intro to programming and PHP and then get back to that. But It's been really helpful. I made my site and sort of customized it with the stages I did follow.

Zac Gordon
Zac Gordon
Treehouse Guest Teacher

Ah, gotcha. Yeah, we definitely structure the WordPress Theme Development course so you have to complete the PHP one if you don't already know PHP.

Zac Gordon
Zac Gordon
Treehouse Guest Teacher

That said, WordPress is a great environment to learn PHP and you may find you don't need to learn everything in the PHP videos to get the job done.

Spen Taylor
Spen Taylor
13,027 Points

The PHP course has been the most interesting one that I've been through so far - I don't know how it's used in Wordpress since I still don't feel fully comfortable with using WP just yet but I'm sure even the beginner level tutorials will be applicable :)

I'd say keep on ploughing through, if there's something you don't understand then this forum and google are your friends! You'll get it eventually!

37,033 Points

I agree with the poster above that the intro to programming course is helpful because it will help you pick up on basic theories. I taught myself php to try to then go and build on it to learn wordpress and I'm now here trying to clean up my code and make it more proper and clean rather than whatever bits of code I could string together to make something work. I strongly believe that if you want to learn wordpress you need to have at least a base understanding of php because wordpress is just php with wordpress exclusive functions included to make it easier for all involved once it's understood by the developer.