If you have been coding static Websites or even using another CMS then wrapping your head around WordPress can be a bit of a learning curve. I am not so bold as of this writing to jump in and start barking out very technical information about the functions and files used however, I don’t mind sharing how I have gotten started and what resources have been the most useful to me.
I assume that most people are hosting their site remotely either on a shared server or a dedicated one. Many hosting companies now have one click installations of WordPress. I think that it is better to do the install manually. It may take a bit longer but it is really not that difficult and it gives you a better idea of how WP works with your host server and how it uses a database.
Videos and blogs
If you are reading this then you probably started learning about WordPress the same way that I did which is searching the Web. The WP community is really wonderful with so many people writing blogs and offering answers in the forums. The first thing that I was interested in was creating my own theme so that my site (and those that I created for others) would be unique in appearance. The first thing that I came across that really helped me was video tutorials on CSS-tricks which is a small Web community created by Chris Coyier. Although the videos are a bit dated, I still found them to be extremely helpful. The videos start with WP installation and end with completing a theme from a Photoshop mock-up. I find CSS tricks to be a great resource for all sorts of information and I really appreciate the time that Chris puts into it.
When I first started building this site I wasn’t using a test server but I’ve found it to be very useful. I installed XAMPP on my local computer for this purpose. It is free and very easy to set up. It is good to have an environment in which to play. I also found that writing a theme locally is much faster for me because I am not constantly moving files to another server. Also, I have broken themes and taken quite a while to figure out what I did! In this case your site won’t be broken for any length of time and you can wait to upload your theme until it is to your liking.
In the end I found books to be my best resource. I am glad that I started with Chris Coyier’s videos because I think that a book would have seemed overwhelming to me at first. I have two reasons to use books as a resource. First, it is nice to peel your eyes away from a monitor for a while. You are going to be staring at style sheets and php files so much that the occasional break to reference a book is a relief. Second, the information you get from a book is more comprehensive and well structured. A good WP book will offer up information that you never thought to ask. The best book that I read was Professional WordPress. This book is also a little dated because it is based on WP 2.9 but it is very helpful. I decided that the latest book is not necessarily the best. WP is growing so fast that it is near impossible to produce a well written book without having another version of WP come out by the time it is published.
As I continue to work with WordPress I will continue to write about the things that I learn and hope that others will contribute with comments. For those just starting out with WP I hope this helps!Tags: resources, test server, wordpress