Category Archives: Web

Learning to Build WordPress Themes

I’ve been preoccupied since December  last year, several months earlier than that even, with the goal of learning web development skills. Initially I was compelled by need, but recently, having discovered that It’s not impossible (very hard, for me certainly, but not impossible), I’ve realized that I actually enjoy the process and want to learn how to build websites. Specifically, WordPress themes.

I’ve been exposed or involved in  creating websites as early as 1995, but I had never considered it a a serious pursuit compared to print design and photography,  video or animation, These were more attractive and immediate interests than creating a website. Now, I have a job where it is necessary to create custom sites.

The evolution of CSS and Javascript has made web design significantly more accessible and meaningful to wannabe designers. Still, I wasn’t motivated to learn web development skills.  Until I became the sole, part time manager of a WordPress Multi-Site. Right now, I have reached the level of understanding that I can do anything, that I am capable of understanding this beast, even though I know there’s still a long road ahead.

Fortunately, using WordPress is another tool that makes it easy to develop websites

  • it mostly involves HTML, CSS and a little PHP
  • extending functionality is as easy as adding a preconstructed theme or plug-in
    • WordPress has a HUGE community of developers who create cool, FREE themes and plugins that can do anything you want.
  • WordPress is an open source (FREE) tool that is standards comliant
    • and that means WP sites are solid
  • there are tutorial sites, podcasts, YouTube channels, lots of free resources, just search
  • for networking and realtime learning there are WordPress Meetups in every major US city and cities around the world

That said, it’s still very  hard and frustrating for me because I’m relying on tutorials and other information that is scattered across the web. I have few personal contacts who have development skills and I have to be careful not to abuse their generosity. In my isolation, I’m finding it hard to piece together a coherent process or workflow because of the  many disparate and overlapping resources.

So, my knowledge, my learning, is full of holes. I’ve been considering taking classes, but somehow that seems too time consuming. I believe I need to start back at the beginning, perhaps with introductory web design training materials and books, beginning with HTML, then CSS, then return to WordPress development. Because I know myself. As a learner, I’m the kind of person who likes to race ahead to the good stuff when I should be methodically focusing on the step in front me.

Certainly I’m familiar with and understand HTML and CSS, but not thoroughly. I’d say I’m an intermediate beginner. And I can appreciate, through successes I’ve had from redoing  tutorials multiple times, that knowing something well enough that you don’t have to think about it is invaluable when you’re planning or troubleshooting web development.

I’m open to suggestions for a good starting point for learning HTML and CSS for building websites. Books, websites, even a learning map so I can go about this process in an orderly and productive way.

In return I’ll add stories of my trials in learning how to design websites with WordPress into the blog. I’d rather be doing video or photography, but my will to learn web design is driving the bus, at least for the remainder of the summer. Come the new fall semester things will shift and I’ll have to find slivers of time in my schedule to work on tutorials for web design. I hope it’s enough to hold on to what I’ve  learned so far.