​WordPress development is a challenging field. Some would say it’s downright difficult to master. There’s no point in sugarcoating it: If you want to eventually become someone with even decent WordPress skills, you have to put in many hours of learning. Now you’re beginning to see why it’s not something that everyone’s cut out for.

That’s not to say that you should be discouraged, but we want to give you a sobering outlook on just what it’ll take—and how long it’ll take—for you to make it in WordPress development.

So if you’re still committed to developing your WordPress prowess after hearing this reality check, then read on.

How Long It Takes to Develop WordPress Development Skills

Think of learning to develop for this content management system as any goal that takes time to master. You don’t learn how to play the electric guitar or piano well overnight, just as you don’t learn your way around WordPress in a short period of time.

WordPress Development Skills
Image Credit: noor Younis

According to WordPress tutorial site WPShout, different stages of development and experience take various periods of time:

  • Basic WordPress User – Approximately 10 hours of learning (keep in mind that a user isn’t even on par with a developer)
  • Entry-Level WordPress Developer – Six to 12 months of continuous reading and education about the platform, with at least between 10 and 20 hours of coding practice on development projects each week
  • Seasoned WordPress Developer – At least two years and constant, ongoing education and full-time work taking on regular WordPress coding projects

Now that you have some sort of idea of how long it takes to become a developer on this CMS, let’s take an in-depth look at the skills you’ll need to support this goal.

A Constant Thirst for Knowledge

In keeping with the pattern of more learning as your WordPress development skills increase over time, having an undying thirst for knowledge is critical to your WordPress success. Web design and development is an area that’s never static; it continuously changes, providing no shortage of new things to learn and master.

Since the versions of this CMS constantly change, the ecosystem in which it operates is also in flux. A developer serious about honing their skills will keep up to date with said changes.

Thirst for Knowledge
Image Credit: Elijah Hail

This means following a few principles, such as:

  • An eye on site security – With viruses and malware on the rise, more WordPress sites than ever are under attack. Staying on top of the latest site-security best practices is vital.
  • An appreciation of design – Many sites today are minimalist masterpieces, with less clutter seen as integral to good UX and conversions. Still, you need to always have your finger on the pulse of trends in web design. Are you designing for mobile-first, or should you perhaps consider a different approach that’s not mobile-exclusive?
  • An understanding of technology – Don’t just rely on WYSIWYG editors, though it’s tempting not to learn to code. Learn everything from CSS and HTML to JavaScript and PHP—you’ll have a better understanding of how the web works, which means more control over your work.

Tech Skills

Let’s break down various tech skills you’ll need to become better at WordPress development.

Tech Skills
Image Credit: Marvin Meyer

HTML

Hypertext Markup Language, a foundation for the way sites are built, is a fundamental aspect of what a developer needs to master. HTML frees you up to work outside the finite scope of site builders, therefore empowering you to customize sites with more finesse.

CSS

Whereas HTML is about the structure of your site, CSS relates to how it actually looks. A fundamental skill to have for both designers and developers, CSS is crucial for front-end professionals making decisions about the visual appearance of a site and its elements that visitors will be interacting with.

JavaScript

A site’s main, interactive element, JavaScript, together with HTML and CSS, is regarded as one of the crucial components of the Internet. Not only does it allow interactive webpages, but learning it is also a must: It’s a fundamental aspect of a large number of sites, as well as apps. If you’d like to eventually learn other languages, you need to master JavaScript.

PHP

WordPress is built on PHP, the free, widely used, server-side scripting language. Created back in 1994, PHP is an open-source tool that helps you build interactive and dynamic sites. The files for both WordPress plugins and themes mainly utilize PHP to build those pages that you see and interact with when you land on a WordPress site on your browser. Therefore, to create spectacular WordPress sites, it’s in your best interest to master PHP.

Mobile First!

The number of mobile users has decisively surpassed the number of desktop users. Designing your WordPress site for mobile needs to be a top consideration. Portable support is vital to ensure your visitors, leads, customers and readers can consume your content anywhere they are or regardless of what they’re doing.

Marketing Skills

WordPress development isn’t exclusively about tech skills. You need to balance that with marketing savvy.

Marketing Skills
Image Credit: rawpixel

Knowing Your Audience

A fundamental aspect of marketing is knowing for whom you’re creating and building. If, for instance, your ambition is to make a good living creating plugins and themes, you need to know your customers better than they know themselves. A great place to start is by offering them a minimum viable product (MVP), collect data, test it out, and then refine it to where you can legitimately charge for it.

SEO Competence

No one expects you to become an SEO wizard. However, at least a good, working knowledge of how SEO works is critical to your success as a developer because you’re building a site. And a site’s success relies so much on how well it’s been optimized to be found by leads and customers on search engines. Therefore, understanding things like meta tags and descriptions, how top-quality content boosts search rankings, and how to get search engines to crawl your site in the first place are all basics that you need to know and implement.

Selling

Developers have to think broader than just the development process. After you’ve built your WordPress site, plugin or theme, you need to monetize it. This is a problem quite a few developers run into—how to transition from a creative into more of an entrepreneur mentality. Get into the frame of mind of thinking about how to always close your next deal for your latest product or service.

Management Skills

As you get bigger and better in WordPress development, that means more projects and eventually having to hire people to delegate work to them. Here are some critical management skills.

Management Skills
Image Credit: rawpixel

Planning

WordPress development demands a lot of planning to ensure success. Some developers are tempted to dive headfirst into projects before considering crucial factors like:

  • Overlaps with existing projects
  • The reality of deadlines
  • Sufficient tools on hand to deliver projects on time
  • To monetize or not?

Planning for success takes outlining your objectives; breaking apart bigger tasks into several micro ones for better efficiency; and understanding how to properly launch once the project is finished.

Delegation

This is especially true once projects get bigger and increase in frequency. On one hand, you’re more successful than ever, but, on the other, you can’t do everything by yourself anymore! You don’t need to worry about tasks that aren’t directly related to coding—like customer service, answering emails, and taking care of billing issues—all by yourself. Otherwise, you’re going to become your own bottleneck that drastically prevents your operation from growing. Instead, delegate tasks like addressing feedback, communication and invoicing to others who can do a better job than you.

Soft Skills

This might take you by surprise, but an assortment of soft skills—personality traits that empower you to essentially get along smoothly with your team and co-workers—is as essential as your hard skills.

Soft Skills
Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez

Communication

Good communication is at the heart of every successful relationship, whether that’s personal or professional. It’s no different with WordPress development. Development is such a collaborative process that you can’t avoid working in team, remotely or on-site. Learn how to speak up during meetings, offering constructive and honest feedback, while also understanding that asking questions is the best form of learning out there.

Open-Mindedness

You may think of yourself as open-minded, but are you really? Open-mindedness means a willingness to listen to other’s points of view, even if they clash with yours, and try new processes, even if they’re not how you’d like to do things. This open-mindedness shouldn’t just be reserved for those you work with! On the contrary, listening to your clients—those who actually use your product or service—can give you some of the best feedback available. You just have to be open-minded enough to consider it.

It’s About Being Well-Rounded

Maybe by now you’ve figured it out: Being a successful developer means you have to be a type of Renaissance man. If you can only code and know your way around HTML, CSS and JavaScript—you’re in trouble because you need to still do something with what you’ve built with the CMS. Likewise, if you’re great at marketing your plugin or theme, but you don’t have enough hours of experience on the platform, then all the marketing in the world isn’t going to be able to sell your WordPress creation.

Take your time to develop all of these multi-faceted skills, and you’ll eventually become a very successful developer.

Marc Schenker
Copywriter, Rise

I’m a copywriter and marketer for small, medium and large businesses in the tech, Internet and marketing industries. Whenever CEOs, business owners, and marketing departments need high-converting copy that sells and top-notch marketing advice, they contact me.

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