WordPress Theme Development Resources
As a WordPress Developer myself, I have always struggled to find a single resource for WordPress theme developers. So, for all you developers out there, I tried to come up with a solution. We are about to put a stop to your searches for the WordPress Theme Development Resources with this post.
In this post, we will list down all the resources and tools that you will find useful in your quest for WordPress theme development.
You will find below a list of resources in the following order:
- WordPress Books
- Web Designing Learning Resources
- WordPress Codex
- WordPress Youtube Videos
- Udemy Courses
- Local Server
- Text Editor
- Web Browsers
- CSS Frameworks
- Starter Themes
- Plugins For Theme Development
- Gutenberg WordPress Courses
Building a theme requires hard work and dedication. But most of all, you need knowledge. Building a theme or plugin needs deep knowledge. You need to get the little details of the programming languages, WordPress environment, and many other things.
To begin with, you may refer a book for a step by step guide to get you in sync with the basics and the process.
Here are few good books and guides that can help you teach WordPress development whether you are a beginner or an advanced user:
Building a WordPress Theme From Scratch: The basics : by Joseph Erickson. It is a short book only 74 pages. But it covers all the fundamentals you will need to become a WordPress theme developer. A good resource for a beginner without diving deep into technicalities. So, it's perfect for beginners. However, if you’ve already tinkered with the theme development, there’s nothing much for you.
Build Your Own Wicked WordPress Themes : Technical books by Sitepoint are an absolute delight. A very handy resource for a beginner as it contains exercises that you can practice. Plus it also includes source codes that you can use to understand WordPress coding better. The book also teaches everything about theme releases, GPL licenses, so that you’re ready to publish your theme.
WordPress Theme Development – Beginner’s Guide : This book covers the fundamentals of HTML, PHP and WordPress and is apt for a beginner. This covers things programming in great detailed. All you need to know is a bit of HTML and CSS. But it's not meant for advanced WordPress developers.
WordPress Theme Design : It is your detailed guide for theme development. but there’s a word of caution. This is not for beginners. You need a good idea of coding to get benefit from this book.
Professional WordPress Plugin Development : Plugin development are bit more complex than theme. Learn the ropes of using a plugin in WordPress development reading this book.
Professional WordPress: Design and Development : Aimed at all levels from beginners to advanced this book delves into complex topics like custom posts and building custom framework. These topics are quite complicated and you may not need it for every project. But if you can master the topic, it would be a valuable skill.
Web Designer’s Guide to WordPress : This book gives you the concepts related to the development themes including templates, widgets, and shortcodes that a web designer can grasp easily.
Web Design Learning Resources
Website theme development however is not one-dimensional back end coding. You also need to be well versed with designing. Or you need access to some great design tools or resources. With that in mind, we have curated some of the best designing resources which will help you in WordPress development.
Here we bring to you, a few of them :
- Tuts Plus : A go-to resource for all things creative.
- Line25 : Cool website designs and tutorials.
- Unmatched style : Learn how to design the web.
- Designers List : Provides a list of web design websites.
- Web Design Ledger : Evolve and learn with great tips on web designing.
- Design Shack : An informative website on designing.
- The Web Designs : Contains a portfolio of web designs.
- CSS Drive : Website designs at your disposal.
- We Love WP : Provides website designs and themes.
- Behance : Get the work done by creative professionals.
- Dribble : Allows you to connect with designers.
WordPress is fairly easy to begin with. But if you’re going to learn theme development then you need to have an in-depth knowledge about it.
Whether you’re just a beginner or looking WordPress knowledge you can find it all in WordPress codex. Codex is the online manual of sorts for WordPress users maintained by the WordPress community.
There are many sections within it covering various topics ranging from blogging, WordPress for beginners, WordPress features and others. Here I’m listing few specific links from Codex which should interest you as a theme developer.
- First Steps With WordPress
- Using Themes
- Site Design And Layout
- Find CSS Styles
- Create Static Page In WordPress
- CSS In WordPress
- Using Conditional Tags
- Creating a Static Front Page
- Creating a 404 Page
- Creating a Search Page
- Creating a Author Template Page
- Creating Plugins
- Creating Asides
WordPress YouTube Videos
If you are someone who prefers videos over books, then YouTube is a great resource. And videos are a great way to learn new things.
But there are many channels on YouTube which shows you the way around using WordPress. With so many choices, you could be lost. Hence, we curate the best of WordPress channels for you so that you don’t get lost in the crowd:
WP Beginner - Being followed by 95,000+ subscribers and growing this is one of the favorite youtube channel. It not only shows you the common wordpress fixes but teaches you complex topics that can help you in your theme development endeavors.
Alessandro Castellani- He produces quality content. In two years he has made a name for himself. And he has a superb video on Theme building from scratch that you may learn from.
Kori Ashton from is among popular WordPress youtubers producing content each week.You can subscribe a lot about different plugins and themes.
WordPress 101: Create a Theme from Scratch WordPress Theme Development
If you want more engagement and learn from professional instructors, whome you can also reach out to when needed then you can try out a course in Udemy.
Here is a list of the best of them on WordPress Theme development topics:
WordPress Theme Development for Beginners : This is an informative course providing you with a step by step guide on theme development for beginners.
WordPress Theme Development with Bootstrap : Become skilled at theme development with this amazing course where you learn step by step wordpress theme development using Bootstrap CSS framework. Bootstrap remains the most popular CSS framework for its ease of use. So, you are a bootstrap designer looking for skill upgrade, don’t look beyond this course.
Complete WordPress Training for Beginners : Apart from learning other things, you can learn to create and manage your own WordPress themes in this course. You will learn the basics of creating a theme too.
Build Customized Themes and Plugins : In this course the instructors start from PHP to gradually teach you the template hierachy, creating WordPress themes using Starter themes. It also give you a fair idea of creating Plugins.
WordPress Training for 2018 step-by-step WordPress Tutorial : Although this does not cover the technical aspects of website design, it is a good resource if you’re a beginner looking to get your feet wet in WordPress.
Learn To Create WordPress Themes By Building 10 Projects : In this project you will learn to create theme by actually doing it. You will be building 10 different types of themes with different design and functionalities. So, by the end of the course you become a pro completely equipped to launch your own themes. All you need is HTML and CSS to get started.
Themeforest WordPress Theme Development With Option Panel : If you are looking to make professional themes that you can sell in marketplaces like ThemeForest then you must checkout this course. This course goes deep into theme building teaching creating themes from scratch by using underscore.mer starter theme, advanced topics like creating admin options within theme admin among other things. So, by the end of the course you’ve complete knowledge professional theme development in WordPress.
Podcast makes it easy to learn while you are on the move (commuting to work, jogging, exercising). You can listen to the latest updates, news, tools, tips, and tricks. Podcasts can get you moving with a purpose. Here is a list of some great WordPress podcasts especially curated for you:
- Your Website Engineer
- Apply Filters
- WP Dev Table
- Post Status
- The WordPress Chick
WordPress Local Server
As a normal WordPress user you can directly install WordPress on your hosting. But a theme or a plugin developer have a different requirement from a normal user and they prefer to work on a local computer.
It’s advised that a developer set up their own WordPress server where they can easily test their project before they actually go live. It is faster and cheaper than hosting. Also having an own environment means you control the environment. And you can tweak it as per your need.
Here is a list of web server packages that you can use for your WordPress Environment:
- Xampp : This is a great tool to develop locally on Windows
- Wamp : This is for Windows operating system
- Mamp : This is for Mac operating system
- Lamp : This is for Linux operating system
- Getflywheel - It allow you to create unlimited sites with ease, customize server and delete sites easily. It has now become my favorite method.
Along with a WordPress environment, you need a text editor to write your code. Here is a list of famous text editors that you can use:
- Atom - It is an open-source software which comes packed with variety of extensions.
- Netbeans- It is optimized for PHP coding which is the core language of WordPress.m
- Sublime Text- It has rich selection of editing commands which makes it popular.
- PhpStorm- a PHP Editor focused on productivity of the developer.
After you got the above things right, you now need a web browser to work on your WordPress website. They have their own set of developer tools which allows you to debug your site and test it. Here is a list of the best out there:
Setting up a WordPress environment takes time and effort. But it is a one-time payoff. The next step is using this environment. The next part of this article provides you with resources for implementing the actual work -css frameworks, starter themes, plugins and more.
CSS Libraries For WordPress Theme Development
When it comes to theme development, you can take more than one approach. One is to develop everything on your own from scratch. While another smart way is to make use of CSS frameworks like Bootstrap so as to speed up the process. Other than speeding up the process it also helps cut down the bloat. With many modules already there, you don’t use another plugin to get a functionality which is already there. And using a CSS framework also means great coordination among team members as there is uniformity in coding styles and better acceptability across browsers.
Some of the common CSS frameworks which continues to be popular are-
A starter theme is a functional wordpress theme that you can start building your new themes upon by customizing it. A starter theme provides a framework or the basic architecture for your theme development process.
Starter themes gives you a strong background for your theme development process. Then you can add more features to finish the theme.
When I began building WordPress theme for Jewel Theme, there was not more options in terms of starter themes. But now there are many good starter themes. I’m familiar with quite a few of them. However, I only personally use Underscores starter theme. It’s the perfect starter theme without any fluff. Also getting started with Underscores is quite easy.
Here is a list of other best WordPress frameworks:
- Genesis : Great resource for advanced users as it is highly optimizable
- Gantry : Free to use and ease of use; highly customizable and user-friendly
- Roots : Versatile and free to use
- Yoko : Comprehensive tool
- Skeleton : Free tool and highly customizable
- Bones : Totally free and builds a good base for your WordPress projects
- Hybrid Core : Completely free and highly customizable
Plugins for themes
After completing your theme, it’s time to check and test it out. Have a look at whether it meets your needs:
- WordPress Beta Tester : This is for advanced users to use on their development site. Remember to keep a backup.
- Debug Bar : A useful plugin for developers.
- Log Deprecated Notices : A useful plugin for debugging for developers.
- Theme Check : A must-have plugin for WordPress design and development.
Gutenberg WordPress Courses
In 2018, all WordPress enthusiasts are awaiting eagerly for the WordPress 5.0 update. It will be a major release with its core editor updated to “Gutenberg”. Gutenberg is going to completely transform WordPress as to how people create content. And it will have a long impact on theme development scene.
So, if you’re even least interested with updating yourself on Gutenberg then there is no better time than now. Learn about Gutenberg as much as possible. One of the best resource on the internet is this course.
Newsletters can be a good source of keeping yourself updated. But some of the newsletters can send you more commercial emails than your liking. So, we only recommend few newsletters that we have tried and tested ourselves.
Ahmed Awais is a full stack web developer who has immense experience with WordPress. He provides immense value in his newsletters which comes only twice a month. Its FREE while in beta. They have plans to make it premium newsletter that will cost 49$/yr. Till its FREE, there’s no reason not to subscribe to WP TakeAway Newsletter.
They send a weekly newsletter with the best of curated articles and wordpress news.
It’s an awesome newsletter that covers everything important in a weekly email.
Okay, we’re not that big yet. But then every journey has to begin somewhere. We’re to begin shortly a weekly newsletter curating the best of articles, guides, tips and news related to wordpress. Subscribe below to join our newsletter.
We recommend some Twitter profile which you should follow. They are experience in WordPress and share tons of cool stuff related to WordPress.
We have covered the books, Youtube videos, podcasts, frameworks, web design, and plugins. This list of resources will take you on your journey to becoming better at developing themes for WordPress.
If we have missed out any favorite WordPress theme development resource of yours, please let us know in the comments below. We will be happy to add it.