Complete Study Guide for WordPress Website Building

The complete guide to learning WordPress

Learning WordPress can be a very long road for an inexperienced programmer. This guide can help you go from programming illiterate to freelancing programming quadrillionaire. It is meant as a overview of the steps needed to become a competent WordPress developer. This guide can help both the experienced and inexperienced wrap their heads around WordPress.

Don’t believe the myths

When learning any field in programming (yes you will need to learn), there are a ton of myths that come attached. A lot of it is hype from click bait articles preying on the ignorant. So I’m just going to lay out the three most persistent myths I see today:

  • No you CANNOT learn programming in 24 hours. Or a week. Or a month. To learn the entirety of programming world you will need to first become immortal being with a clear schedule. You can learn some of the basics int 24 hours, but you will never actually be done learning new programming skills (unless you are lazy).
  • On the opposite end of the scale is a myth saying you’ll need to be a genius bestowed with the incredible powers of math. There is nothing further from the truth. You would be surprised the amount of potato heads one must deal with in the field, and how little actual math you will be using.
  • Maybe my favorite: There’s no point to learning programming when there are tools to make websites. This is the most aggravating because its the hardest to explain. But put shortly, the question “why do I need to learn to code, if I have a WordPress theme?” can be answered with the following question “where would the themes come from if there were no programmers”. Same with web development tools. There are no tools on planet earth that can write more tools, except programmers. Also any tool that has or will exist comes with severe limitations. But that’s a longer topic.

Yes, you have to learn the basics of programming

Once again, you cry “Why do I need to learn programming? Its WordPress!”. I think the more you’ll learn about WordPress, the more you will learn how limited it is.

Here is the secret. WordPress is a platform, not a web development tool. Meaning, that a lot of the heavy work still requires you to flex your brain a bit and program. Here are some issues you might run into if you don’t learn how to program beforehand:

  • My theme is awesome! But I hate the styling of the widgets in the footer.
  • I want to build a membership site and I need x functionality, but no plugin exists.
  • I want to build a membership site, but my plugins conflict.
  • Turns out the theme I bought has a big fat whopping problem and I honestly think the theme developer is dead.

What would you do in these situations if you didn’t know how to program?

Now, please learn the basics of programming

Before you start off on your path to learn HTML and CSS, you should take a moment and relax, so I can throw a study syllabus at your head.

The things you will need to learn, before coming back are the following:

  • HTML: The building blocks of the front end of your website (the display). Personal recommendation: Common mistakes can be cured with a firm grasp on inline, inline – block and block level elements, as well as a firm grasp on relative vs absolute positioning.
  • CSS: This is the secret sauce to your website. Imagine that your HTML is a paint by numbers grid, and CSS is the paint. Every website uses CSS.
  • PHP: This is the black box of the website. Nobody sees it but you. It is what actually creates all of the functionality, does all the thinking, and delivers the content of your website. This is what real “programming” is. Learn it.
  • MySQL: Databases are where everything on your website is stored. You will need to learn how to safely interact with the database with PHP. Look up parameterized queries.

Once you get back from all of that. we can begin diving into the basics of WordPress. Something optional to learn is javascript. It is something that is great for animations or even delivering content to a user without them having to refresh a page. Also there might be a time where you need to fix or update some javascript created by another developer.

Setting up WordPress

There are a couple of ways to install WordPress on your website. The absolute easiest is through your cPanel account. There is usually a program on your cPanel that will install WordPress for you. For example, QuickInstall has a one click installation for WordPress. Another way is to download the WordPress source files, and upload them to your server via FTP.

After installing WordPress, you will want to sign in to your WordPress site to set things up. There are many guides on setting up your WordPress site through the backend, but the basics you will need to learn are the following:

  • Installing your site theme: Even if you are planning on making your own theme, it advisable to set up someone else’s theme to base your work on. This will serve as a great jumping off point for your website.
  • Get familiar with plugins: they are easy to install and will provide most of the functionality of your website.
  • Menus: learn where these are and how to set them up. You can create menus that are useable on any part of your website.
  • Widgets: widgets are not to be confused with plugins. Widgets are user interface elements (like a Twitter feed), while plugins are groups of files that can potentially make sweeping changes to your sites functionality.
  • Learn the difference between pages and posts. These things have very distinct and separate purposes.

This will give you enough ammunition to set up a basic website. However if you want something a bit less basic, you will have to continue on.

How does content get delivered to the user?

It is helpful to know how WordPress takes your content and presents it to the end user.

If you learned php, you will probably know how a website is presented to the user. If not, and you have gotten this far, you are a shameful human being and deserve a death of a thousand cuts. It sounds silly, but its very helpful to know how the browser interprets data, and what PHP’s purpose is in filling in content, how the website is compiled etc.

Themes define the way that WordPress presents content to a user. They do this with php files that serve as templates to display certain parts of your website, like a blog post page or the header. They also include CSS and php files and can even provide functionality to a website.

I highly suggest learning what you’ll have to provide in your themes. There is also certain rules that you need to follow if WordPress is going to recognize your theme. However, the main parts will be: the header, the index page, the sidebar, the footer, functions.php and the stylesheet.

One more thing you might run across are page templates. Page templates are simply different ways to display any single site page. If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, look up “page template”, in fact, do that anyway.

Also learn about post types. Everything on your website is a post type, whether they are pages, posts or attachments. A page template is a template for a certain post type. Learning about post types might clear a lot of confusion down to road.

There are lists of all the global variables that WordPress provides, that range from the content you provide to users, to information on the visitors themselves. Don’t bother memorizing these, just reference them as you go and be familiar with what type of global variables that WordPress provides you. If you don’t find them you might have to add the functionality in yourself, either in the form of a plugin, or simply in the function.php file. Global variables are essential in WordPress development.

Plugins

Plugins allow you to add functionality to your website or others. There is actually a huge plugin market for WordPress. Its a great way to earn some fat stacks of cocaine and gain some rep in the programming community.

Essentially plugins are groups of files that alter or add functionality to websites. There are certain rules however, to setting up your files so that WordPress reads them.

It is also important to learn when to add things to functions.php vs creating a plugin.

Hooks: Actions and Filters

Hooks will allow you to “hook” one of your functions into WordPress, so that it is run at a specific time. If you don’t use hooks, many types of functionality would not be possible. Trust me when I say learning what these are and how to use them will save your life, and free up a world of possibilities.

Make sure to learn the difference between the two, and how to use them. This knowledge will allow you to heavily alter the functionality of WordPress, and will greatly open doors for your site functionality.

Actions are hooks that allow you to run a function when a certain WordPress event occurs. For example when you create a post, you might want to update a value in your database.

Filters allow you to modify data at certain times. When you set up a filter, WordPress will pass data through it before completing a task. If WordPress is about to display a login error, you can choose to change or modify that error message before it is presented to the user. Perhaps something like “Stay back scammer this is my grandmothers heirloom!” or “I don’t want your dirty eyes peering into my website, filthy hillbilly hacker!”.

Practice

Naturally, for everything to sink in, you have to practice. However, if you want to be like me starting off, you can find a small job online, and jump in head first. The pressure should help keep you trying to learn. If you screw someone over, you can always direct them over to me.

However, if you want to take the more safe route, I would suggest you do the following:

Rent out a small shared hosting package (you can blow a few bucks a month), grab a theme, and create a small blog website. (Make it something you’d want to use! In fact use it!).

You can also use a local server on your computer, if you don’t feel like spending any money, and don’t really want to share your work with anyone.

When you have learned your way around WordPress, start another little site. However, this time be a bit more ambitious, and this time, try your hand at putting in all the functionality yourself. If your confused on something, you can always rip off someone else’s work and learn from them.

Congratulations!

If that seems like a lot. It is. WordPress is a much larger topic than many people assume at first. However, if you take it one bite at a time, you will eventually learn everything you need to, when it comes to creating WordPress websites. Its a skill that is highly in demand, and doesn’t require a degree. Keep plugging away, and you will find that it was very worth it!

Hopefully, this guide will help you in becoming a solid WordPress developer.

When And How To Decide On Whether To Employ In House Or Outsource

Overview

Every Entrepreneur setting up a Home Based Business dreams and yearns for explosive growth and fantastic profit within the shortest time possible.

Of-course this should be expected if the Entrepreneur has taken the time to prepare very well before the launch of the Home Based Business. By adequate preparation, I expect the Entrepreneur to have gone for Business Management Training in order to acquire the necessary skills and tools to improve the success potential of the Home Based Business.

Another important step I expect the Entrepreneur to undertake is to prepare a Bankable Business Plan that will encourage Investors to see the prospects and potential of the proposed business and bring in the necessary capital.

Even your Bank Manager will be well disposed to listen to you when and if you approach the Bank for financial assistance.

All said, I congratulate you on the successful Launch of your Home Based Business. Everything so far is going on fine. Customers are showing interest in your products/services and you’re seeing the results in the daily returns.

When To Decide On Whether To Employ Or Outsource

Of-course the right time to decide on whether to employ or outsource is when the business is showing signs of healthy growth with greater demand being made on your person. This is when you realize that you have to decide on whether to employ or outsource if only to maintain your sanity and avoid a breakdown.

Now, you have to be careful because uncontrolled growth and lack of funds have been identified as some of the reasons for Home Based Business failure. Therefore you have to allocate your resources optimally and ensure your business continues on the path of healthy growth.

The Home Business Owner is literally expected to be a Jack of All Trades but we all know that this is not practically possible.

As your business is growing, you must decide on the best way to enable you run the business optimally and reduce the burden on you so you can use your time more efficiently.

How To Decide On Whether To Employ Or Outsource

When you conclude as the owner of the Home Based Business that it’s now time to decide on whether to employ or outsource, it’s instructive to take some factors into consideration before taking that decision.

You need to consider the type of business you’re running. Is it the type of business that requires space for inventory? Or maybe you’re a contractor and your workers have to assemble on your front lawn every morning before setting off for the day’s assignment?

Are you involved in a wholly Web Based Internet Business and all you may require is a Laptop with good internet connection? You may be an On Line Course provider and all you may require is to outsource your Administration and Sales to Freelancers.?

I mentioned all these situations in order to Stress the point that the nature of your type of business will to a great extent determine how economical it will be for you to either employ or outsource

Business Processes That Are Easily Outsourced

Some business processes are more easily outsourced than others. Activities like Book keeping and Accounting, Sales and Marketing, Human Relations, Inventory Management and Office Cleaning are easily primed for outsourcing.

Do You Employ Or Outsource?

If you decide to employ, you must take cognizance of the cost implication of keeping an employee. After all, it all comes down to how it affects the bottom line. You’ll need to provide appropriate sitting space and maybe do some training for the new employee.

If the employee falls ill, you’ll still pay him and take care of his health needs unlike outsourcing where you don’t bother about such commitments.

If the employee goes on vacation, you’ll have to pay him/her and also look for someone to do the job during this period of absence. But if you outsource this job, you won’t have to bother about such costs.

So What Do You Do?

In the final analysis, the decision whether to employ or outsource rests squarely on your shoulders. It’s an important decision you’ll have to make. As the owner of the Home Based Business, you’ll decide on what suits your circumstance after taking into consideration the need to allocate available Scarce Resources optimally. This is where undergoing a well-structured Business Management Training Program becomes very helpful.

This Is What I Did In My Own Home Based Business

When my Home Based Business started growing, I looked at my options – whether to Employ or Outsource

1st Action – I decided first to utilize the services of family members living in the house and as a form of encouragement, I gave them stipends. When family members got involved, it became a sort of Happy Time around the house.

2nd Action – As the business continued to grow, I then decided to outsource some of the administrative and marketing processes

Wrapping Up

I believe that for a Home Based Business that is enjoying growth, it’s better to outsource first and later begin to employ in-house.

When you outsource, you enjoy the skills and varied experience of the Freelancer or Contractor at no increased cost to your bottom line.

Do you agree with the ideas I raised in this discussion?

Please feel free to send in your thoughts.