Being an avid fan of WordPress and developing many sites in it this year, I wanted to share a few handy resources to get you started as a WordPress developer. WordPress began as a blogging platform a few years back, but has evolved into a complex, yet easy to master content manager that many competent developers choose to use over making their own sites from scratch. Its also sparked a massive open source extension community of developers making plugins, themes and modifications for it. Given that wordpress is free to use and design with, this can only be great news for you and me, so if you haven’t already discovered WordPress development, its never been a better time to get on board!
Now before you go diving in headfirst into the PHP of a template, or making your own from scratch, you may wish to [as I did when I started] begin by modifying existing templates and/or using them to get to grips with how most WordPress sites manage their content.
Obviously the first thing you’ll need is the latest build of wordpress to install on your server – i’ll assume you’ve bought some hosting and a domain at this point, if not, google can help with this, or I recommend buying with Dreamhost.com or Mediatemple.com. So head on over to WordPress.org – not to be confused with the ready hosted blog service WordPress.com and download the zip file of the latest version, at time of writing this is 2.6.1.
Once you’ve downloaded this and uploaded your files to a folder on your server (or into the root), you’ll need to visit your hosting backend and make a new SQL database for wordpress to fill with your site’s data, your host should be able to help you with this if it is not obvious as to how to do it. Now visit your URL and fill in the details of your SQL database and wordpress will do the rest, easy eh?
Dropping Kubrick : Get a Theme!
So now your blog is set up, you’ll want to ditch the standard style template, known as Kubrick with its blue and white dullness – lets get some individual style up in here! So to save you trawling the web for a decent template – and let me tell you there are a shit ton of poor templates out there, hell, you could be searching for hours, if not for the great guys at Smashing Apps, who have provided this cracking list of 21 Premium quality (but FREE!) themes -
Pick a theme you like, download it, and then install it by dropping the Theme’s folder (unzip it first!) into the following directory on your server -
Then go to the admin section of your blog to select the theme as the one you want to use. If you haven’t spotted it yet, to login to your wordpress backend, visit -
That’ll always get you to the login screen. Now login and go to Design > Themes, and choose the theme you just installed from the list, making sure to click ‘Activate’.
Other useful resources for free wordpress themes -
Extending WordPress : The World of Plugins
Now there are many additional features being added by the WordPress team with each new point release but some people just can’t wait that long and provide additional functionality by making their own plugins – this is great news for us developers because if there’s anything you want your wordpress site to do, you can pretty much guarantee someone else has already thought of this by now, and made a plugin that’ll do the job for you.
Your first port of call is always the plugin directory on WordPress.org/extend/plugins, as this lists currently available plugins and their compatibility with versions of WordPress – you should always assume that if a plugin isn’t listed on WordPress.org, either its out of date, or simply not very good. Always double check if you find a plugin elsewhere, that it is compliant with WordPress version 2+ as things have changed so much since version 2 its not worth getting plugins that haven’t been updated since.
Once you’ve found a plugin that seems to do what you want, time to try it out. Download it and drop it into -
Then in your wordpress admin backend, go to Plugins in the top right and then activate the plugin you just uploaded. Some plugins will build in their functionality automatically, whereas others will give you a piece of PHP code you’ll need to drop into your template, often in single.php [the file which handles displaying full length posts] to make them work.
For example, Sociable – a free plugin that adds social networking buttons to your posts, allows you to either use the wordpress backend menu, or drop code in where you’d like buttons to share your post to appear. You’ll see these buttons at the bottom of this article, where is says ‘Share And Enjoy’ – thats the sociable plugin at work.
Other useful plug-in sites -
That should be enough to get you started for now, If you’ve got any further queries on developing with WordPress, either drop me an email, or sign up for the forums on wordpress.org.