From WordPress Beginner to Pro: 200+ Career-Boosting Resources

Whether you’re just starting out with WordPress or you’ve been developing with it for some time, you’ll probably find that the resources out there to help you learn are pretty daunting.

There are hundreds if not thousands of sites and blogs dedicated to sharing tips, tutorials, news and information about WordPress, and it’s not always easy to know which ones are the most reliable, up-to-date or relevant for you.

In this article I’ll share a huge list of resources which I’ve found useful or believe will be useful for others, from users creating their very first WordPress blog to developers digging further into WordPress to get more form it, and everyone in between.

So as you’re developing your WordPress skills and becoming more confident with the platform, you can keep coming back to this list to find helpful links which will support your development as you advance your WordPress career.

In this post I’ll cover six main areas:

  • Getting started with WordPress: Creating your first site, using themes and plugins, adding and editing content and tweaking your site’s settings.
  • Becoming an advanced user: Taking WordPress beyond the blog, managing your site and working with themes and frameworks.
  • Coding your own: Developing themes and plugins and adding more CMS functionality to your site.
  • Advanced developer topics: Action and filter hooks, the database, queries, WordPress APIs, translation and libraries and third party tools.
  • Professional development for clients and users: Becoming a WordPress pro, managing client projects, selling WordPress to clients and customers, customizing the admin screens, development practices, Multisite and BuddyPress.
  • Contributing to WordPress and its community: Contributing to WordPress Core, creating free themes and plugins and helping others to learn.

Over time, more and more resources will become available. I’d love to have a crystal ball and predict what they are, but unfortunately I can’t! So in the very last section I’ll give details of some of the most useful sites which I think you should bookmark, follow or subscribe to for future resources and updates.

A caveat: Everyone has their favorite WordPress resources and sites, and obviously I haven’t been able to cover everything that’s available here. I’ve included links to the Codex in many cases, except where I think other resources are more helpful. I’ve included links to posts on the WPMU DEV blog as well as a variety of other links to websites and blogs. This probably only scrapes the surface of all the WordPress content out there, so don’t beat me up if I haven’t included your favorite site!

Getting Started With WordPress

Newcomers to WordPress will find it the hardest to track down the most reliable WordPress resources. If you’re setting up your first site or you’re working on a site someone else has created for you, these resources will help you get started.

Creating Your Site

The first step for many users is to create their first site. The guidance on the WordPress Codex can be difficult for new users to get to grips with, but there’s plenty more out there.

You’ll need to find a provider to host your WordPress site: these links will help you choose a good one:

The next step is to install WordPress:

If you’re moving from wordpress.com to wordpress.org you might find information about the key differences helpful:

Themes and Plugins

Once your site is set up you’ll need a theme. These resources will help you find one that works for you:

And if you want to add extra functionality or customization to your site, you’ll need some plugins too:

Adding and Working With Content

WordPress is designed to make it easy to add and edit content, but some guidance is useful when you first start:

Once you’ve created some content, you may need help adding it to the navigation menu:

And finally, these resources will help you add widgets to your theme’s widget areas:

Settings

To make your site work better for you, it pays to adjust your site settings, in particular permalinks:

Becoming an Advanced User

Once you’ve started creating your first WordPress site or blog, you’ll probably need to learn about more advanced WordPress management. The following resources are more advanced, but still for non-coding users.

Beyond the Blog

WordPress can power much more than blogs. For starters, there are plenty of plugins which will help you make your blog even better, or create just about any type of site you can imagine with WordPress:

If you want to use WordPress as a CMS rather than a blogging platform, you may well need to create custom content types, such as post types, taxonomies and custom fields. These resources will help you:

Site Management

Whenever I run workshops with WordPress users, the topic they want to know about the most is day-to-day site management. Here are some good practices:

You should make sure you keep your WordPress installation and your themes and plugins updated:

It’s likely you’ll also want to learn about SEO so you can drive more traffic to your site:

These resources will help you with keeping your site backed up:

If you want to avoid your site being attacked, you’ll need to learn about security:

And finally as your site gets more traffic, it helps to ensure it performs as well as possible:

Working with Themes and Frameworks

You’ll already be using a theme to power your first site, but as you start developing your skills or building more sites, you might decide you need to use a theme framework:

Alternatively, you might decide to dip your toe into theme customization, either using the Theme Customizer or by writing some code:

Coding Your Own

If you decide you want to build your own themes or plugins, either for client sites or your own, there is a huge range of resources out there to help you learn how to do it. Here’s a couple of useful general resources:

These guides and tutorials will help you create your very first WordPress theme:

Your theme will need to include template tags in order to work properly. These guides will help you get started:

Your theme files will also need to include the loop:

A useful theme will include widget areas so that you can add widgets to your site. These links will help you learn how to create them:

Your theme will also need to include navigation menus:

If you want to add custom template files to your theme, you’ll need to have an understanding of how the theme template hierarchy works:

As your theme development skills advance, you’ll start to add functions to your themes in the functions file. These guides will help you decide when you should do this and learn how:

If you’re planning on letting other people use your theme and want to give them some customization options, adding theme customizer support or creating options screens will do this:

For your themes to work well on mobile devices, you’ll need to learn how to make them responsive:

If you’re working with a framework or want to adapt an existing theme to meet your needs, creating a child theme is the best way to go. These guides will help you start:

Developing Plugins

Most WordPress developers start by building themes, then move on to plugins. These guides will help you create your first plugin:

Two common types of plugin are shortcodes and widgets. Advance your plugin development skills by learning how to create these:

Depending on the specifics of your plugins, you may need to create settings screens for them:

From Blog to CMS

In the section on advanced user skills above I included some resources to help you create custom content without writing code. It’s much better practice to code these instead. These links will help you learn how to create custom post types:

And custom taxonomies:

And finally, creating custom fields to store post metadata:

More Advanced Developer Topics

If you’re aiming to develop a career as a WordPress developer, you’ll need a more in-depth understanding of the WordPress ecosystem. Below I’ve identified resources covering a range of developer topics.

Functions and Hooks

You can’t really do anything interesting with WordPress without understanding functions and action & filter hooks:

The WordPress Database

The database is where all of your content is stored: it pays to have a good understanding of how the database is structured if you’re planning on writing content to it in your plugins or creating custom queries:

Queries

Before you start writing custom queries, make sure you’re aware of the options for doing this and which you should be using:

The WP_Query class is often the best option for creating custom queries. These links will help you use it:

And some alternatives to WP_Query:

WordPress APIs

WordPress comes with no fewer than 11 APIs. I’ve included links to some of them in relevant sections here, but this is where you’ll find a guide to all of them:

Translation

If you’re planning on releasing your code to the public, or you have clients or users working in languages other than your own, it’s important to prepare your code for translation:

Libraries and Third Party Tools

A growing number of WordPress developers use libraries and third party tools to support their WordPress development. Here are some guides to popular ones to get you started:

The topics I’ve covered here for advanced developers are just a small subset of what’s available, and what you need will depend on the specific requirements of your projects. To advance your development skills further, see the list of useful sites at the end of this post.

Professional Development for Clients and Users

So you want to make a living from WordPress? These resources will help you make the step to becoming a WordPress professional:

The first challenge will be to find clients for your services, but there are others who’ve been in the same position, and they’ve shared their tips:

Or you might not want to sell to clients, but instead sell themes, plugins or an online product or service:

Once you’ve found your first project, you’ll need to ensure you have the project management skills to make it a success. These resources will help you manage WordPress projects and use WordPress to help you with project management:

Customizing the WordPress Admin

If you can customize the WordPress admin, it will make your and your clients’ sites more professional and user-friendly. First, the dashboard:

You can also white label the admin screens and brand them to meet your clients’ needs or enhance your own brand identity:

You can also customize the admin menus:

Development Practices

If you adopt best practices in your WordPress development, it will improve the quality of your work and make you more efficient, which will help you make more money. These guides will help you adopt the Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) principle in WordPress development:

These developer tools will help you work more effectively:

And finally, some tips to help you manage your client sites after launch:

WordPress Multisite

Developing with Multisite gives you an opportunity to create networks of sites either to host the sites you develop or to sell sites to clients. These links will help you get started:

Running a network of sites is more complex than a single site. At WPUMU DEV we’ve provided plenty of guidance to help you:

If you’re going to use Multisite for profit, these guides will help you:

And finally, it’s useful to know which plugins are most useful with Multisite:

BuddyPress

If your clients need you to create community sites, or you’re setting up one of your own, the best tool for the job is BuddyPress. These guides will help you get started and run your BuddyPress community:

Developing themes or plugins for BuddyPress involves some additional considerations on top of those for a standard WordPress site. These resources will help:

And these BuddyPress themes and plugins will help you create and maintain your BuddyPress community:

Contributing to WordPress and its Community

WordPress is an open source project which relies on contributions from its community of users and developers to develop it and help others to use it. In this section I’ll provide some resources which can help you contribute to WordPress in a way that is in line with your skills and knowledge.

You don’t necessarily need to contribute code to WordPress itself to be able to make a contribution. These guides identify some of the options:

Contributing to Core 

If you have the skills to contribute to the core code or you want to help with testing, here’s how to go about it:

Creating Free Themes and Plugins

As well as contributing to WordPress itself, you could also contribute by developing free themes and plugins, or you could help test themes and plugins that have been submitted. These guides will help you understand what’s involved:

Helping Others to Learn

If you’re not able to contribute code, there are other ways to get involved, such as writing documentation, helping in the support forums or running a local meetup group or even a WordCamp:

And Finally..

As I mentioned at the very beginning of this post, the links I’ve provided are a snapshot of what’s available out there right now. There’s a very good chance that tomorrow someone will publish a killer tutorial or guide which should be in here but can’t be.

So I’d strongly advise that you bookmark some key sites which are updated frequently and will help you develop your WordPress skills and knowledge into the future:

For all WordPress Users and Developers:

For beginners and users:

For developers:

For news about WordPress:

Good luck with your development in WordPress and I hope you find these resources useful!