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Andy Stitt
Andy Stitt

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How to learn web development and level up using WordPress

If you're just starting in your web development journey, it can be extremely intimidating. There are so many options as far as programming languages to learn, areas of focus (front-end, back-end, databases), etc.

I would like to introduce you to the WordPress path. I offer it to you as an option. If it resonates with you and could be right for you, then great. I don't want to present this as "the only option" or "the best option". Your journey is still yours, and you should trust your instincts above all else.

WordPress meets you where you're at

WordPress is flexible enough that you can build websites with it in any number of ways.

If you're super early in your journey

If you're just starting to get comfortable with coding basics, or even if you're not yet comfortable with it, you can still build WordPress websites. There are drag-and-drop page builders that you can use to create beautiful layouts without writing a line of code.

Beaver Builder and Elementor are my favorite ones because of ease of use and they are built using solid WordPress and web development practices.

You can use those page builders to make beautiful website designs and install plugins to add functionality. All without having to know code. There are some risks involved with plugin use, and you will make mistakes, but we all get better by learning from those experiences.

If you're comfortable with the basics and want to level up

If you're solid with HTML and CSS, then building WordPress sites without page builders is an excellent way to level up. WordPress is built in PHP and uses a MySQL database.

If you build WordPress themes manually (a theme is the layout and design of a WordPress website), then you will undoubtedly use HTML, CSS, and PHP. You can use your flavor of JavaScript for interactivity.

If you're interested in learning about databases, then you can write SQL queries to return data from the database tables that WordPress creates.

If you're a pro at building WordPress themes and want to level up

If you are, or once you become, a pro at building WordPress themes, you can level up by turning WordPress into a headless CMS (content management system) and connecting it to the front-end tools of your choice. WordPress has a REST API that you can plug into, or you can install the WPGraphQL plugin to add a GraphQL endpoint if that's your preference.

If you're into JavaScript front-end frameworks, then there are plenty of ways to turning WordPress into a headless CMS. Gridsome is a Vue-based static site generator that has a plugin that allows a WordPress connection. Gatsby does the same thing, but it's built with React. Next.js also has a nice WordPress starter template.

The new WordPress editor uses content blocks that people can choose from, and those blocks are built in React. Another opportunity to level up.

WordPress has always met me where I've been at, and I've been able to go from building static sites in HTML and CSS to leveling up my web development game using WordPress. I'm a complete rookie to making it a headless CMS and block-building, but I now get paid to build WordPress themes the HTML/CSS/JavaScript/PHP way!

There is a lot of demand for WordPress

WordPress currently powers 40% of the world's websites, and no other CMS comes even close. It even powers the website of the President of the United States.

There is quite a bit of demand for it, from small and medium-sized businesses all the way up to the enterprise. You can find people hiring for it on the job market, or you can offer it to clients via freelance services.

The WordPress community is amazing

The WordPress community involves thousands and thousands of people. This includes those who build and maintain WordPress itself as well as teachers/trainers and meetup and event organizers.

Web development is a team sport. There will always be things you don't know and need help with. Becoming part of the community is one of the best moves you can make.

You can search for meetups in your area, most of which have gone virtual. You can also see if there are any upcoming WordCamps that you'd like to attend. Twitter has a thriving WordPress community (look me up if you want a place to start), and you can also find WordPress groups on Facebook and LinkedIn as well.

The WordPress journey has been amazing for me

I wanted to go full-time into web development after having done mostly digital marketing and dabbling in web development at work. Through the ability to learn and level up, as well as growing my community for support and getting job referrals, I turned my dream of becoming a full-time web developer into reality.

If all of this resonates with you, then take the WordPress journey. If it doesn't, then listen to your instincts and go in the best direction for you.

Whichever direction you decide to take, I wish you the best of luck!

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