The Most Important Skills
of a WordPress Developer
In the modern digital economy, everyone needs a website. Businesses need them to serve as an online destination for their customers. Freelancers need them to market themselves and their talents. Plenty of people even have personal websites where their friends and families congregate.
And there's one thing that many of those websites have in common: they're built using WordPress.
If you've never heard of it, WordPress is a versatile blogging and content management system that eliminates the need to code websites from scratch. At last count, it powered 39.5% of all websites on the internet. So if you want to learn how to make a website, WordPress is the place to start.
That also means WordPress developer skills are always in demand in the job market. And having those skills can also help an individual to build and maintain WordPress websites to market themselves to potential clients and employers.
Here's an overview of the most important skills you need to be a WordPress developer.
HTML and CSS
The first skill you'd need to be a WordPress developer is an understanding of the common building blocks that make modern websites tick. And the two most basic of those building blocks are HTML and CSS.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) - is the common language that web browsers (like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge) use to render web pages.
WordPress doesn't render pages directly in HTML (it uses PHP, more on that later). But having a working knowledge of HTML allows a developer to understand how web pages function, and that forms the foundation for much of the work they'll do using the platform.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), on the other hand, are used extensively by WordPress sites. They contain the visual formatting information web browsers rely on to add colors, fonts, and other visual accents to websites. For a WordPress developer, understanding CSS is essential because it's how they'll control what the sites they publish look like to visitors.
Anyone building or maintaining a WordPress website will also have to have a working understanding of databases – specifically MySQL. This is because all of the data contained in a WordPress site is stored in a MySQL database, which sends the data as requested to each visitor's browser.
The good news is that WordPress does a decent job of managing its own database and doesn't always require manual intervention. But the first time something goes wrong, the things you'd learn in a MySQL training course could mean the difference between a ten-minute fix and a lengthy database restoration.
One of the reasons that WordPress is so popular is that it uses templates to power its page designs. This means WordPress Developers don't have to have design skills if that's not their cup of tea. They can instead build sites using some of the countless free and paid premade WordPress templates available online.
That being said, it's a good idea for WordPress developers to understand how to build templates from scratch, anyway. And that means getting familiar with Bootstrap. It's an open-source CSS framework that allows designers to build responsive, mobile-friendly websites. And it's an excellent building block for WordPress themes.
Plus, knowing how to use Bootstrap would make it possible to build an entire modern non-WordPress website from the ground up. That makes it a big value-added skill in any developer's toolkit.
Because WordPress is so widely used, it's also among the biggest targets for hackers. And that means anyone building or managing a WordPress website will need to be familiar with cybersecurity concepts and how they apply to the WordPress framework.
The good news is that it's not strictly necessary to become a cybersecurity expert. There are some basic security measures that every WordPress developer should familiarize themselves with. And beyond that, it's also a good idea to learn and understand what the most common types of website security risks are. That makes it far easier to spot potential security trouble with a WordPress site before it can cause a real problem.
Familiarity with the WordPress Administration Interface
Last but not least, a WordPress developer has to learn the ins and outs of the WordPress administration interface. It's the primary way that developers interact with WordPress. It's where they add and remove plugins to change site functionality. It's where they add and control themes to create the perfect experience for visitors. It's even where they add and remove content to maintain the site once it's live.
The best part about this is the fact that the WordPress interface is built for simplicity and ease of use. And that means it's simple for anyone to master with a little bit of practice. You don't even have to take classes to do it, either. There are plenty of publicly available demonstration installations you can log into and explore for as long as you'd like.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, building the skills needed to be a WordPress developer is something that takes time and patience. But it's not so difficult that it should be out of reach for most people. And given the ubiquity of WordPress on the internet, these are skills that can come in handy in almost any line of work today.
And even for those not planning to use these skills professionally, learning how to use the world's most popular website building platform is still worth doing. It provides an excellent base of knowledge about how the internet works, and how the websites we all use each day function. And in an always-on, always-connected world like the one we live in, that's knowledge that's always worth having.
About the Author
Philip Piletic closely follows the impact of technology on education, and its evolution from traditional to modern methods that include e-learning, courses, gamification, and others. He has also helped the Sydney-based IT & Business school in developing their IT courses.