How to Learn WordPress in a Week (For Free!)

Thanks to the low barrier to using and working with WordPress, anyone with an idea and time to spare can develop a product or service on top of WordPress and start a business. In fact, many of our members are already doing that.

Whether you’re working full-time and juggling family, social and volunteer commitments, mastering WordPress is within your reach – and there are so many resources available for free that if you do have time you have absolutely no excuse!

If you’re willing to put in the time you do have free, it’s easy and quicker to master WordPress than you may imagine.

This post offers a step-by-step guide for intermediate users who want to become competent with WordPress over seven days.

First Thing’s First

This guide makes a few assumptions:

  • You have used WordPress and have the software installed (obviously!).
  • You have at least two-three hours per day to learn WordPress.
  • You are familiar with HTML, CSS and some PHP.

So let’s get stuck in…


WordPress Codex, WordPress TV and Make WordPress Core

If you think the Codex is only for beginners, think again. The Codex is, essentially, the WordPress bible and contains pretty much everything you need to know about WordPress.

Every time I head to the Codex to quickly look something up, I always end up finding more than I had anticipated and learn something new. Every time.

Yes, many of the articles are dry and encyclopaedic, but there is information on everything from working with themes and writing plugins to contributing to core development.

If you’re a visual learner, WordPress TV contains hours and hours of presentation recorded at WordCamps around the world.

It’s easy to search for videos on any topic and learn from well-known developers such as Andrew Nacin (core developer) and Mark Jaquith (also a core developer).

If you’re interested in where WordPress is headed and want to contribute to core, it’s a good idea to bookmark Make WordPress Core. This is the official blog of the core development team for WordPress.

The site features regular updates on new features for upcoming version of WordPress. If you want to stay on top of what’s happening in WordPress, this is the place to be.


Getting the Most Out of Themes

Understanding how themes work is crucial to learning WordPress. Choosing a theme for your site is usually the first customization you will make to your site, so it’s important to know what you’re doing.

The first port of call is the Theme Development section in the Codex. This section offers a solid grounding in how themes are built. Even if you think you know a lot about themes, it’s still worth reading.

Check out the Child Themes section of the Codex before reading A Guide To The Options For WordPress Theme Development, a great read by Smashing Magazine that looks at different approaches to development, such as building a theme from scratch or hacking an existing theme.

Next up, theme frameworks. The WordPress Theme Frameworks Starter Guide at WPTuts+ is a great introduction to frameworks if you’re just getting started. WPTuts+ has also published a thorough guide to Developing Your First WordPress Theme.


Getting the Most Out of Plugins

What is WordPress without plugins? Am I right?

Developing plugins is easier than you may think and offers up a world of possibilities when you can tweak WordPress to suit your needs.

The first post of call is Writing a Plugin in the Codex. Smashing Magazine’s WordPress Essentials: How To Create A WordPress Plugin, is a great introduction to plugin development.

Our own post How to Write a WordPress Plugin: 12 Essential Guides and Resources offers a great list of plugin resources.


Hosting and Backup Solutions

Choosing a good web host is important if you want your site to run smoothly with no downtime. And with hundreds of thousands of web hosts out there, choosing just one is no easy task.

In Web Hosting Review: So Just Who is the Best? we’ve reviewed five of the most popular hosting options available.

Managed WordPress hosting is becoming more and more popular as new competitors enter the space. WP Kube offers an up-to-date guide to hosting in 9 Best Options for Managed WordPress Hosting.

Some hosts also provide back up solutions, but if you want to manage it yourself, Snapshot by WPMU DEV is a great solution for scheduling backups to Dropbox or Amazon S3.

Our post 5 Backup Solutions for WordPress Multisite Networks provides some great alternatives Multisite alternatives (though Snapshot is also Multisite compatible). We also recently published Creating A Disaster Recovery Plan For Your WordPress Site, a fantastic guide to preparing for the worst.


SEO and Optimization

Moz offers a comprehensive Beginners Guide to SEO that walks you through everything you need to know about SEO, including search engine marketing, keyword search and measuring and tracking success.

If you want to make the most of SEO, it’s a good idea to optimize your site. The Codex offers a basic guide to optimization, while our recent post 5 Quick Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site provides some basic fixes. WPTuts+ takes this a step further in 10 Quick Tips: Optimizing & Speeding Up Your WordPress Site.



After a busy five days getting your head around WordPress, today we’re going to delve into customizations.

PressCoders offer a great step-by-step guide, How to Customize a WordPress Theme: A Comprehensive Guide.

We post articles on customizations every week here at WPMU DEV Blog so browse through some of our latest posts. Some of our most popular customization posts include Check out How To Make Twenty Fourteen (Or Any Other WP Theme!) Super and How To Create A Totally Custom WordPress Login Page.


WordPress News

After all your hard work this week, why not kick back with a tasty beverage and read the news?

The WordPress Community has a thriving network of news sites, such as, WP Tavern, Post Status, and Torque.

These sites offer a window into the products and services built on top of WordPress and the people behind them. Regularly checking these news sites will help you keep on top of how WordPress is evolving.

Just because it’s Sunday doesn’t mean your week of learning about WordPress is over (though well done for getting through the week!). Check out 35+ Resources to Become a Kick Ass WordPress Developer and for ideas for where to go to get the most out of WordPress.

Image credits: PicJumbo.