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Wordpress - is it hard to learn?

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I don't know much about wordpress. I tied myself in to a simpler CMS some years ago and have mainly used that. I am thinking it's time to go with the mainstream and am embarking on a paid wordpress project with a combination of a lot of googling, some speed-reading of the codex pages and a bit of bluffing.


Am I going to be alright? a positive learning experience? Or crash and burn, disgrace and dishonour? I am thinking I might cobble together a simple minimal theme with no features and no posts, just pages and see how it goes, but then I am also wondering if there is any point. A lot of 'web designers' just tinker with existing themes these days.



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It's going to be a frustrating experience until you get used to, and understand how things work, even then it can make your life hell. WP has a lot of limitations mainly due to its poor database schema and lack of abstraction from the view and business logic.


I'd recommend looking into wp_query, custom post types and ACF after getting used to it. It's hard to do anything meaningful without those.


At some point I need to write up how we use WP at work. After a lot of soul searching and trial and error, we have a method of making re-usable template partials, components and fields. It's a lot nicer to work with because you don't have the standard level of duplication that most WP sites do.


If you're not tied to a platform, you can always use a better CMS like Craft if you're looking for something more powerful.

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It all depends on what you want to do with WordPress.


You can build a theme with very litte PHP knowledge. The file hierarchy is simple enough: https://developer.wordpress.org/themes/basics/template-hierarchy/ and there are some excellent guides you can use: https://developer.wordpress.org/themes/getting-started/


Once you get the hang of themes you can use functions.php to rather than adding plugins. It means you can build complex sites that are still very fast to load.


Everything else is just CSS.

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I do not know much about php or javascript, only CSS and some html.

I found it slow for the first 6-7 months to learn but after starting to understand the basic page build up I got the hang of it pretty fast.
I would go directly into child theme development, I wasted a lot of time before delving into a child theme and lost a good few months, with knowing how to make a child-theme you will be a rockstar in a few months.


Good luck.

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Hi TimW, that was the same question I had when I joined here a few years ago.


A child-theme is a wordpress theme that relies on an existing theme like twentysixteen (I use that most as "parent" theme), but exists as a new theme where you can place your own versions of the standard wordpress templates.


I have one child-theme which only has a CSS stylesheet where I change the layout of the "parent" theme, and by only altering this file in my child-theme these will override those files from the parent-theme.


Child-themes first use the files of the parent-theme, then look in the child-theme files to see if there are adjustments which override the parents CSS.


It took me a little while to understand child-themes but changed the way I work with wordpress and have now much more options.



Edited by seedism

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You do need access to your servers root folder, there you will find the wordpress instalation.

Inside the folder wp-content you will find a folder named themes, inside that folder are all the themes and there you need to make a new folder named after you child-theme, inside this folder will you place your new template files like style.css, page.php, footer.php, header.php and many any file you want to change.


Making a wordpress theme is really important to learn as fast as possible, will make your webdesigning/developing much easier.

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Making a wordpress theme is really important to learn as fast as possible, will make your webdesigning/developing much easier.

This depends on if you actually need WordPress. I wouldn't recommend learning it unless you have a good reason to use it. There are many other tools many much better depending on the task at hand than WordPress.

  • If you are making a personal blog for example I'd recommend against WordPress and use a static site generator.
  • If you are building a web-app WordPress would be a terrible choice. Instead you'd want some Node/Python/Scala backend | using a REST API or better still GraphQL. On the frontend some framework like React/Vue/Anguar. No monolithic PHP CMS.

    *If you are building a website for a client that needs a CMS there are many alternatives to WordPress like Craft, Expression Engine. you aren't even limited to PHP based CMS's with options being available in a variety of languages.

  • Again only use WordPress if it's the best tool for the job - generally only ever is the best tool if you need a CMS and don't know any others. If you have not used any CMS before your time might be better spent learning an alternative.

To conclude I am really glad that I will probably never have to touch Wordpress again in my career. I know many successful developers who have never touched it.

Edited by rbrtsmith

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