How can I level up my WordPress Development?

Thanks for joining us!  Level Up WP is a place where anyone who works with WordPress can come to learn and “level up” their skills.  But enough about us. Let’s talk about you. Chances are, if you’re here, you fall into one of two groups.

The Inquisitive Implementer

You know your way around the WordPress admin and you can upload photos and update copy with ease.  Clients come to you because you can give them the site they want and they know you can keep it up to date.

But you feel like you’re stuck. You’re getting the same kinds of projects over and over.  You set up the site, install a few plugins, make some changes in the Customizer.  This is a great place to be and where lots of WordPress freelancers make their living.  But you want more. You want to take on bigger projects that you know will need custom development.  You want to go from downloading and installing plugins to actually building your own.

If this sounds like you, you might be an Inquisitive Implementer.  Check out our workflow posts, which go into detail about how WordPress developers work.

The Determined Developer

You already consider yourself a developer.  Maybe your focus has been on front end development. Maybe you’ve already built a couple apps in Rails.  Either way, there are specific tools and skills (cue Liam Neeson voice) to help you get the most out of your WordPress development work.

If you feel like you have a pretty good understanding of code, but WordPress has you feeling a bit lost, you might be a Determined Developer.  Look out for our tools posts, which will detail tools used to build and run sites like the New York Times Blogs and the Chicago Sun Times.

Why is “leveling up” so difficult?

If you’ve ever tried to learn to code, you know about the thousands of beginner resources that exist on the Internet. The problem is many of these resources just give you more to learn instead of solving your problem.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed by vocabulary and concepts when you’re just starting out. You can spend months “learning” without actually having anything to show for it.   But if you just bounce from idea to idea, it can be difficult to put those together and build anything. That’s where we come in.

You won’t find beginner tutorials on Level Up WP.  We assume that you’re looking to learn about what a concept is or are looking for a WordPress specific implementation.

For example, a Level Up WP post on Grunt/Gulp would fall into one of 2 categories:

  1. A overview of what a task runner is (definition of vocabulary) and why/when you would want to use one (context for new vocabulary)
  2. An advanced tutorial on how to build Gulp/Grunt into your custom theme development workflow

If you’ve read Why Learning to Code is So Damn Hard put out by Viking Code School, you’re familiar with the concepts of The Cliff of Confusion and The Desert of Despair.  These are just the terms they’ve defined for the period of learning after you’ve graduated from all the beginner tutorials but aren’t yet advanced enough to work with the tactical advice of some of the higher-level instructions.

How is Level Up WP different?

Level Up WP is here to be your parachute off the Cliff of Confusion and your camel through the Desert of Despair. All the articles on our site are written by developers who have been in your shoes before.  We’ll share resources that they’ve found helpful and help you decide what to focus on.  Level Up WP resources aim to take you from an Inquisitive Implementer or a Determined Developer all the way to WordPress Master!

Still feeling lost?

When you’re learning, it’s normal to not understand every concept that you come across.  If you’re just starting out, maybe you’ll skim some articles here and get the general idea but not the specific concepts.  That’s ok. Everybody starts somewhere.  Keep reading, keep following the links and keep asking questions. You’ll pick up bits and pieces as you go along and it’ll all start to come together.

On a similar note, if there is something that you don’t understand and it’s not explained ask Google.  Google is your friend.  The best way to learn to code is to rely on the expertise of all those who came before you, and that’s all chronicled online!  Having all this knowledge at your fingertips is worthless if you don’t use it.  In time, you’ll also figure out how to ask better questions, both of Google and other developers.

How do you want to “level up” your WordPress development?

If you have a suggestion for something you want to see on the blog, email me at keanan@levelupwp.net.  I’ll either send you back some more information about your suggestion, or get to work writing it up for the blog!

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