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WordPress

Sergi Oca
Sergi Oca
7,981 Points

Wordpress theme development doubts

Hi everyone,

To keep it short, I have recently found a position as a Junior frontend developer, I will be starting soon and I'm really excited about that being a self taught learner. However, they told me that most clients ask for websites made in Wordpress and that I should look into wordpress theme development.

It's way harder than I anticipated. I'm taking a few courses here in treehouse and specifically in the "wordpress theme development" one, the way the course is explained is that we are copying a "static" theme. My question is, is this the normal workflow? To first design a normal website, and then port it over to Wordpress?

Another question, how does most people start? I mean, is it common practice to start with a barebones theme like underscore, and then build it from there like it is shown in that course, having a design made and port it over to Wordpress? I fail to see how the CSS is added to any theme and it's not being explained in any of the courses I have done so far.

And finally, while there's a lot of material in Treehouse about Wordpress, I'm not finding a good structure to learn this, I'm just randomly selecting courses and doing them, can anyone point me to a more step by step, structured resource to learn about how to do Wordpress theme development?

Thank you all in advance.

3 Answers

Jonathan Grieve
MOD
Jonathan Grieve
Treehouse Moderator 90,705 Points

Hi Sergi. There's a lot of questions to unpack there but I'll try and do my best.

I believe there's excellent content out there for WordPress, not just the code side of things either but also for getting used to the admin settings and getting used to the Dashboard/Content Management System. But when I took the WordPress Development Track here on Treehouse, I found it was an excellent step by step guide and a natural progression to learning what you need to do to develop WordPress themes and generally websites in WordPress.

However since WordPress is largely built on PHP, I would also spend time on the PHP track first. :-)

I only recently became aware of Underscore.io but I would definitely recommend using it to get "your hands dirty" so to speak with WordPress and learning things without breaking an important project.

Your HTML and CSS skills will definitely come into play when migrating a design over to WordPress. There's not a lot cooler than taking your design and making it work as a WordPress theme. There's a special method that WordPress uses to link styles and JS files but you'll learn about this as you dive into theme development.

Hang in there. But first, make sure you've completed the PHP and WordPress Development tracks. I'm confident they'll give you the structured learning you're after. :-)

Sergi Oca
Sergi Oca
7,981 Points

Right, the wp_enqueue function. I guess since I'm rushing through it I'm failing to establish the basic workflow and order of things, there's a lot to digest.

You are right, I should follow the track, that should give me some structure. I did theme development before PHP.

Thank you!

Kenneth G.
Kenneth G.
Courses Plus Student 1,171 Points

I would recommend the Herbert to get a start into developing plugins. Disclaimer: this project is still a bit rough around the edges but i use it in production on my websites.

Jonathan Grieve
Jonathan Grieve
Treehouse Moderator 90,705 Points

You're welcome. Just try to pace yourself but not do too much too soon. I know how tempting it is to fly through it at the cost of missing some the crucial things but if you find the right balance between progression and taking time to learn the fundamentals, you'll find the structure of the track(s) makes sense. :-)

Hi!

I've been where you are 4 years ago. I started as Junior Web Developer and my first task was building a WordPress Theme from scratch and i was like" WTF, how should i do this?" The Treehouse courses helped a lot. I spent afterwork surfing the library for specific stuff i needed to complete my job task. Trust me it get's easier as you develop your skills and your brain adapts to more complex thinking - in 6 months from now you will be like 'heck that was actually not that hard' and you will be doing more complex stuff. It does not stop :-)

2 years ago I built my first WooCommerce Theme from scratch - it took time and lots of research, learning, lots of trial and error, but now I've built several WooCommerce Stores and have developed new skills. This is what makes ours jobs awesome - you will never ever stop learning new things. And you should never ever stop trying new stuff. Dive into it and you will succeed.

Another question, how does most people start? I mean, is it common practice to start with a barebones theme like underscore, and then build it from there like it is shown in that course, having a design made and port it over to Wordpress?

This is a question of preference and how the workflow is set up in your company. Some companies have own people that build static prototypes first and then you would build a theme using those html templates. I personally have my own custom starter theme and build from scratch. Been building custom themes for several years now and know all the important WP functions by heart. There is still not a day where I don't run into some issue and have to look things up.

As a beginner it may be easier building a static html template first and then use that as a starting point for your theme. You will understand better how WordPress themes work.

And finally, while there's a lot of material in Treehouse about Wordpress, I'm not finding a good structure to learn this, I'm just randomly selecting courses and doing them, can anyone point me to a more step by step, structured resource to learn about how to do Wordpress theme development?

Again this is matter of preference. I rather choose my topics myself and learn on the job. So e.g. if i have a specific problem and I am stuck, i usually google the issue and check sites like stackoverflow for solutions or check the treehouse library for a specific course and browse through it. e.g. I had to build a custom WP Plugin and had no idea how to start, so I watched the treehouse wp plugin course, caught up the basics and worked from there on. BTW I kinda learned PHP and JavaScript learning WordPress Development. So you don't always have to follow the A to Z approach ;-)

I would recommend building several themes from scratch and not relying on free or premium themes. There is no better way of fully understanding theme development than building your own themes and plugins. Also the pay is usually better if you can do this.

Hope this helps a bit. It's a struggle at the beginning and there will be times where you will be frustrated or maybe even feel dumb - this is absolutely normal and all of us devs went through this. The trick is to keep going on and do your best.

Sergi Oca
Sergi Oca
7,981 Points

Thanks a lot for your answer, it did help a lot. The company I'm going to work for is very understanding and it's allowing me a lot of time to study, but of course, the pressure of having to do this professionally is there and I'm on this all day long, I have already went a long way since I made that post a week ago to today so I'm sure in like a year from now I'll be a Wordpress machine haha, it is great in this career of ours to look where you are now compared to where you were 1, 2 or 6 months back, there's always progress.

Kenneth G.
PLUS
Kenneth G.
Courses Plus Student 1,171 Points

Im a current developer and i work in wordpress. We usually start with a theme and customize the hell out of it. We create plugins specifically to meet the clients need. I would recommend to look at the theme download section in wordpress and take any you like and deconstruct it. Also try to learn laravel so you can become a better PHP developer.

Sergi Oca
Sergi Oca
7,981 Points

Hello Kenneth,

Thank you for your answer. Do you mean that you choose a theme, or buy a premium theme and you customize it, how exactly? Do you use the dashboard and then add some CSS? I'm very confused as what is the best practice regarding adding CSS. Do you just add lines under the "style.css" file? or use the "add custom CSS" directly? I guess the CSS part is the most hard to grasp for me right now as it wasn't explained so far in any of the wordpress courses.

Kenneth G.
Kenneth G.
Courses Plus Student 1,171 Points

I would recommend that you start with a free theme first, as you are learning, but if you can go with a Premium one go for it. Regarding CSS, all themes tackle this differently. I personally prefer to use a theme-agnostic CSS Plugin .