Guide to WordPress Development for Beginners

Guide to WordPress Development for Beginners • WPShout

Getting started with WordPress development can be disorienting. As I’ve written, software development (including WordPress development) is a lot like caving, and trying to do your first WordPress development project can be like waking up somewhere in the middle of a dark cave and trying to figure it out from there.

What we need to get started in WordPress development is to get oriented. In a cave, we’d want to start by knowing one very simple thing: “Does this lead toward the entrance, or further into the cave?”

For a beginner WordPress developer, we can get oriented by asking, “Does the user see it?”

From my start as a beginner WordPress developer until now, I’ve found that WordPress has a similar orienting principle, which can help us get a rough sense of where we are even if there’s lots around us we don’t understand.

That principle is: “Does the user see it?”

WordPress Development for Beginners: “Does the User See It?”

There are two options in answer to this question:

  1. Yes, the user sees it. Things like text, HTML, images, and JavaScript can be directly interacted with by the user on his or her browser, screen reader, or other device.
  2. No, the user doesn’t see it. Things like PHP files (which are the basis of themes, plugins, and WordPress itself) and MySQL databases aren’t ever visible to users, but they build most everything that is.

Understanding intuitively the answer to “Does the user see it?” is a super-helpful element of my own skillset as a WordPress developer. So this WordPress developer guide takes that approach to introducing much of the same material covered in our core free WordPress development course, and in our other courses and articles. It’s a new way to cover WordPress development for beginners, and if you understand how to get oriented this way, you’ll have a huge head start on your WordPress caving journey.

What the User Sees

Ultimately, what a user sees is limited to what a browser can interpret. That narrows it down to just a few elements:

  1. Text content (words, numbers, and other symbols).
  2. HTML tags that mark up text content, doing things like “italicize this text” or “put this text inside a paragraph.”
  3. Media files (such as images and videos), included using HTML.
  4. CSS styles that tell HTML how to look, like “make all paragraphs have a 16-px font size and a dark gray color.”
  5. JavaScript code that provides special interactivity, like playing or pausing a media file on a button click.

And that’s it: that’s the sum total of what your users see when they visit your WordPress site.

What the User Doesn’t See

What’s left out of this list? An awful lot:

  1. Anything written in PHP, which is the core language of WordPress, and which browsers don’t read.
  2. Most



This article was written by Fred Meyer and originally published on WPShout.

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