WordPress Developer Essentials for a Robust Website

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Apr 9, 2024
Explore the essentials for becoming a skilled WordPress developer, from understanding core features to mastering technical expertise and the latest WordPress innovations.
The WordPress logo illuminated in blue, symbolizing the platform's ubiquity in web development.

Becoming a top-notch WordPress developer involves mastering a mix of technical skills, understanding WordPress’s core features, and continuously updating your knowledge. Here’s what you need to know:

Brief History of WordPress

WordPress began in 2003, created by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. It was an improvement on an older blogging software, aiming to be easier and more open to changes.

Market Share and Usage Statistics

As of 2023, WordPress is used by 43% of websites around the world, way more than Shopify, the second place, at 3.7%.

Over 455 million websites are using WordPress, with over 20 billion page views a month. It’s still growing fast.

Essential Skills for WordPress Developers

Technical Skills

If you want to be good at making WordPress sites, you need to know some key tech stuff:

  • HTML: This is what makes up the content on your pages.
  • CSS: This helps make your pages look good by arranging elements and adding styles.
  • JavaScript: Adds cool interactive features to your site.
  • PHP: Works behind the scenes with WordPress to run things on the server.

Knowing about WordPress itself is super important too:

  • Themes – Get how WordPress themes work and how to tweak them.
  • Plugins – Learn how to make your plugins to add new features.
  • Custom Post Types – Use these for different kinds of content on your site.
  • Optimization – Make your site run faster by doing things like caching and compressing images.

Keeping your site secure by following good practices is also a must.

Key WordPress Development Areas

Person working on a laptop with a visible webpage design.

As a WordPress developer, it’s important to know a few main things to create strong and active websites. These key areas are the building blocks for making websites that meet the different needs of clients.

Theme Development

Themes decide how your WordPress site looks. Being able to make your themes or change existing ones is very important. Start by using starter themes like underscores as a base to build on. Read the WordPress Theme Developer Handbook to learn how to set up your theme correctly.

When you’re more comfortable, you can try changing the site layout and elements by customizing templates, creating special page templates for different parts of your site, and making sure your site looks good on all devices.

Plugin Development

Plugins add extra features to your WordPress site. Making plugins lets you connect with other apps through the web, make special content types by adding new ways to organize content, and elaborate new parts to the WordPress database.

A good tool for starting plugin development is the WordPress Plugin Boilerplate.

Security Measures

Keeping WordPress sites safe is important and involves checking if your themes and plugins are up to date. Get an SSL certificate to make your site more secure.

Performance Optimization

Making your WordPress site fast is great for keeping visitors happy. Plugins like WP Rocket help your site load faster.

Advanced WordPress Developer Skills

Close-up of code on a computer monitor.

Advanced Customization and Theme Development

Experienced WordPress developers know how to make a website do exactly what you want. They can use theme frameworks like Underscores and Genesis to create custom themes quickly.

They can also design specific page templates for different kinds of content, add special settings in the WordPress Customizer to give you more control and use JavaScript and AJAX to add interactive features.

Understanding and Leveraging Gutenberg

The Gutenberg editor is a big change in how you add content to WordPress sites. Skilled developers know all about how Gutenberg works, including different kinds of blocks and how to use them.

They use Gutenberg to make adding content to a site simpler and more flexible.

REST API and Headless CMS Proficiency

Some developers use WordPress in a more advanced way, by separating the front end (what you see) from the back end (where the data lives). They usually use modern web technologies to make fast, interactive sites.

This approach lets them build more complex websites using WordPress as the data source.

SEO and Accessibility Compliance

Making sure a site is easy to find and use by everyone is important. Experienced developers optimize websites so they rank well in search engines. In some cases, they even use WordPress features to add descriptions to images and structure to content for better accessibility and SEO.

They help your site reach more people and provide a better experience for everyone.

Tools and Resources for WordPress Developers

Graphic designer creating on a digital design platform.

Leading IDEs and Local Development Environments

For building and testing websites, WordPress developers need good tools and a local server. Some popular choices are PhpStorm since this tool has everything you need for WordPress, including ways to find and fix errors and tools for uploading your work, and MAMP, A free tool for both Mac and Windows users. It lets you run a local server with support for Apache, Nginx, MySQL, and PHP.

Version Control with Git

Git helps WordPress developers by keeping track of changes so you can go back to earlier versions if needed, making it easier for teams to work together and combine their code.

Platforms like GitHub, BitBucket, and GitLab offer online storage for your site files.

Building and Showcasing Your WordPress Developer Portfolio

Professional reviewing content on a laptop in a bright office.

Putting together a great portfolio website is key to showing off your skills in WordPress development and getting noticed by people who might want to hire you. Here’s how to make yours stand out:

Creating a Compelling Portfolio

Show websites and apps you’ve made with WordPress. This reflects you can handle a variety of tasks. If you’ve made special solutions for clients, highlight those. They show you can tackle tough challenges.

Showcasing Projects and Contributions

If you can, link to where people can see your code. It lets others see your technical skills up close. Helping out with open-source projects is worth mentioning. It shows you’re part of the tech community.

A good portfolio makes it clear you’re great at what you do. Use these tips to make yours convince potential clients or employers to pick you.

Conclusion

To be a good WordPress developer, you need to keep learning and working hard in many areas. You start with knowing how to use languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP. These help you make WordPress do what each client wants. It’s also important to know a lot about WordPress itself, like how to use themes, plugins, make your site safe, and make it run fast.

Being able to talk well, solve problems, manage your work, and understand what a client needs are also key skills. Making websites that clients love is the main goal.

Things change fast in web development, so you have to keep up. Knowing how to use the Gutenberg editor, connecting WordPress with other systems using REST API, and protecting your sites from hackers are ways to make better websites. Showing what you can do through a great portfolio and helping out with open-source projects can also help you get noticed by employers.

In the end, the best WordPress developers are those who can do many things well, come up with smart solutions, and never stop learning. By focusing on these important skills, developers can keep up with changes in web development and be successful.

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CEO & Co-Founder

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