First post. A long time coming, and definitely overdue. The purpose of this blog is singular: share what I learn as a WordPress developer with other WordPress developers. I learn from other blogs every day, so just paying my dues really.
I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, probably because I work from home for a great small web company that designs, builds, and hosts a lot of WordPress websites. It can be nice to just have the babbling in the background…like sitting next to coworkers. A personal fave is the front-end podcast ShopTalk, with Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert.
One day, while listening to WP WaterCooler, one of the surprisingly few good WordPress coding podcasts, I was surprised as the hosts struggled with this question: How do you get started customizing WordPress themes?
How I got started customizing WordPress themes.
This first post is about how I got started and ended up with my first web development job.
Prior to January 2011, I had edited many a website, but never created them from scratch. I had a teeny-tiny portfolio, a modified theme, a project I had managed, an old-school Cold Fusion project, some reasonably good Adobe Creative Suite skills, and a ton of useless management experience.
Here’s what you need to know in order to theme WordPress.
- HTML – not much to it, but important to know the basics
- CSS – very complicated, very important
- WordPress – not just how to use it, but how to call the database loops
- Photoshop – an essential front-end tool. thankfully I already had this
So now that we know what we need to know, how do we get started learning them? If only there were a a site that provided online courses with qualified teachers at reasonable prices…
There are many! I used Lynda.com.
After $75 and two months of daily study, I found myself theming WordPress sites and starting my first from-scratch web project. I knew when to use things like
<section> <header> <h1>Tell me again the difference between a section and an aside?</h1> </header> <div class="content"> <p>Nesciunt single-origin coffee ea non, adipisicing ex tilde chillwave fugiat lomo health goth plaid squid four dollar toast narwhal. </p> </div> </section>
tag. I learned clear fixes, document flows, floats, and why an absolutely positioned item requires it’s parent to also be positioned. I learned the WordPress template hierarchy, how to call a custom post type, how to insert a custom field into the loop.
While occasionally painfully slow, the Lynda.com courses assumed I knew nothing, covered the fundamentals, and explained every detail. Sometimes they explain it in a painfully slow manner. It’s okay. This stuff is important.
And the last best advice I can give: Spend your time on the CSS. It’s complicated, but critical in making the web pretty.
I recommend these classes/teachers on Lynda:
- HTML5: Structure, Syntax, and Semantics (James Williamson)
- CSS: Core Concepts (James Williamson)
- CSS: Page Layout (James Williamson)
- WordPress 3: Creating and Editing Custom Themes (Chris Coyier)
- Photoshop CS5 for the Web