Menu Search
Jump to the content X

WordPress Developer’s Toolbox


Web designers and developers are getting an increasing number of requests from clients for custom theme development, and a growing number of designers are also building their own themes to distribute for free or to sell as premium themes. With all of the WordPress development that is going on, there is a need for an organized collection of resources to educate, inspire and equip developers to improve the quality and efficiency of their work. This post provides all kinds of WordPress-related resources to do just that.

1. Helpful Resources Link

While there are all kinds of resources available for Web designers and developers, these are especially nice to have on hand when working with WP themes.

The WordPress Help Sheet1
This is a nice resource to refer back to when you are developing themes. It’s a one-page collection of PHP snippets and code that will come in handy when designing with WP.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot2

The Advanced WordPress Help Sheet3
A slightly more advanced version of the help sheet.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot4

Huge Compilation of WordPress Code5
A helpful post that provides code snippets for a variety of common functions.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot6

WordPress Template Tag Reference Guide7
This is a handy guide to have nearby when you’re building a theme. It lists the various template tags used by the WP system.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot8

Unraveling the Secrets of WordPress’ comments.php File9
A good starting point for getting more familiar with how comments work in WP and what you can do with them as a designer.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot10

48 Unique Ways to Use WordPress11
Want some ideas on how you can use WP in your next project?

Theme Switcher Reloaded12
For displaying demos of multiple themes on your website or blog.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot13

2. WordPress Tutorials Link

One of the advantages of using WP is the amount of information that is readily available from others who are willing to share their techniques. For designers and developers, there are tutorials on just about any aspect of working with WP. Here are some that deserve to be highlighted.

2.1. Basics of Creating a Theme Link

Designing for WordPress14
A series written by Chris Coyier of CSS-Tricks that includes videos and articles.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot15

Developing a WordPress Theme16
Helps you with coding each of the necessary WP files.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot17

How to Create a WordPress Theme from Scratch18
If you want to get started with your first theme from scratch, this is a good resource.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot19

How to Create WordPress Themes from Scratch – Part 120
Another useful article for setting up the basics of a theme from scratch.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot21

How to Create WordPress Themes from Scratch – Part 222
The second part gets into slicing and coding.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot23

Dissection of a WordPress Theme – Part 124, Part 225, Part 326, Part 427
A detailed look at what makes up a WP theme and how to create your own.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot28

So You Want to Create WordPress Themes Huh?29
An excellent series of tutorials on just about every aspect of theme development.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot30

From XHTML/CSS to WordPress31
If you already have a site or template built, here is how to convert it to WP.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot32

2.2. Multiple Hints, Tips, and Tricks Link

WordPress Theme Hacks33
A must-bookmark post at Web Designer Wall that quickly shows the code needed for a variety of tricks when working with WP themes.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot34

Mastering Your WordPress Theme Hacks and Techniques35
Another exhaustive resource with tips on many different aspects of designing on WP.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot36

The Most Desired WordPress Hacks: 11 Common Requests and Fixes37
This post includes a variety of information, including tips on custom fields, creating menus, working with categories and authors and more.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot38

2.3. Working with Categories Link

Removing Several Categories from the Loop in WordPress39
There will be times when you want to take posts in a certain category out of the loop and show them someplace else. This tutorial shows you how.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot40

Displaying WordPress Categories in a Horizontal Dropdown Menu41
Shows you how to create drop-down navigation using CSS and JavaScript.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot42

3.4. Navigation Menus in WordPress Link

Creating Two-Tiered Conditional Navigation in WordPress43
Get an advanced navigation menu with the right WP coding and CSS.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot44

Using Sliding Doors with WordPress Navigation45
Use this popular navigation style in your WP themes.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot46

2.4. WordPress as a CMS Link

How to Use WordPress as a Membership Directory47
This tutorial covers one non-traditional use of WP that may be of interest in some of your projects.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot48

Using a WordPress Page as Your Homepage49
In some projects, you may want a static page to be set as the home page, rather than to display recent blog posts.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot50

Build a Dynamic Design Portfolio with WordPress51
Some specifics for creating an effective portfolio website powered by WP.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot52

2.5. Working with Comments: Link

Hack Together a User Contributed Feed with WordPress Comments53
Learn how websites in the TUTS family have their community links section set up.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot54

Adding Form Validation to WordPress Comments Using jQuery55
Learn how to validate comment form submissions without reloading the page.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot56

How to Highlight Author Comments in WordPress57
Setting the author comments to stand out from reader comments can make it easier for others to identify your responses to questions and comments.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot58

How to Separate WordPress Comments and Trackbacks59
You may want to give your comment area a cleaner look by keeping pingbacks and trackbacks out of the main comment area.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot60

How to Add Gravatars to WordPress Themes61
You can make your comment section more appealing by displaying gravatars for each commenter.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot62

2.6. Working with Headers, Footers, and Sidebars: Link

Client Friendly WordPress Themes: Header.php63
If you’re designing themes for clients, here are some things to consider.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot64

Simple Random Header Image for Your Blog65
Provides the code for a randomly rotating header image.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot66

Creating a Widget-Ready Footer in WordPress67
You can give your theme’s users more options by allowing for widgets in the footer.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot68

Mashing Up Feeds Using Yahoo Pipes69
Covers the steps of adding a list of links to your sidebar that consist of posts from various blogs; in this case, blogs from the same network.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot70

How to Install DomTABs on WordPress71
Improve your sidebar by giving visitors more to choose from, without taking up more space.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot72

WordPress Sidebar Turned Apple-Flashy Using jQuery UI73
Create a more attractive sidebar that will be noticed by visitors.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot74

2.7. Web 2.0 Integration Link

Creating a Life-Stream and Social Media Hub75
A look at the process of setting up a personal website that incorporates your social media accounts, such as Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and Flickr.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot76

Create a YouTube Section with WordPress77
Video is becoming a bigger part of blogs and websites, and this tutorial will help you create an attractive section for YouTube videos.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot78

2.8. Styling Link

Styling Individual Posts Using the_ID79
If you want to get creative, individual posts can be styled differently by using the post ID assigned by WP.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot80

Multiple WordPress Page Layouts in One Single Template81
Create a more flexible theme that changes the layout based on various factors.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot82

2.9. WordPress SEO Link

WordPress SEO83
Although SEO involves much more than how a website is built, development can have a big influence on rankings down the road.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot84

Blocking Your WordPress Categories and Archives from Google85
A simple step that can improve your website’s SEO.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot86

WordPress and SEO87
A good primer on developing search-friendly websites.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot88

SEO for WordPress Tips89
Another article that looks at SEO from the perspective of a WP designer or user.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot90

2.10. Working with Feeds Link

Creating Posts that Only Appear in RSS91
Send special subscriber-only content that won’t appear on your front page or archives.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot 92

Publishing External RSS Headlines to Your WordPress Site93
A simple tutorial that will show you how to add RSS headlines to your website.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot94

How to Create a Featured Post Carousel for WordPress95
Displaying featured content on the front page is pretty common right now. This tutorial shows you how to set that up for yourself.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot96

Create a Tabbed Featured Post Area in WordPress97
Give your theme an attractive look and feature the appropriate content.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot98

2.12. Working with Custom Fields Link

Using WordPress Custom Fields: Introduction99
If you’re not familiar with using custom fields, this is a good place to start.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot100

WordPress Custom Fields: Laying Text Over Your Lead Graphic101
A great way to improve the look of your theme by taking advantage of custom fields.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot102

2.13. Other Tutorials Link

13 Tags to Delete from Your Theme103
Page load time can easily be an issue with more involved WP themes. You can help the cause by getting rid of unnecessary calls to the database.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot104

How to Make a Random Post Button105
A different functionality that may be right for one of your upcoming themes.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot106

Customize Your 404 Page107
You can improve the usability of your blog by customizing the 404 page that visitors may find from time to time.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot108

Adding an Author Page to Your WordPress Blog109
You’ve probably seen blogs that have a specific page for each author. Here’s a tutorial on setting that up.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot110

How to Install WordPress Manually111
Most hosting companies offer an easy WP installation. If yours doesn’t, this post can help.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot112

Adding Thumbnails to Your Posts in WordPress113
Thumbnails are popular, especially for magazine themes. Here’s an explanation of how they can be added.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot114

How to Easily Make WordPress Archives that Rock115
Provides some code and strategy for setting up effective archives.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot116

3. Articles from the Official WordPress Codex Link

The official WordPress Codex117 provides a wealth of information for developers, as well as for WP users in general. This list is just a sample of some of the articles that are most relevant to developers.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot118

Theme Development119
This article will cover the basics of designing themes for WP, and it links to a number of additional resources on the subject.

The Loop120
Get the details on the loop, one of the most essential elements of the theme system.

Creating an Archive Index121
There are a lot of different options when working with archives in theme development. This article is a good starting point.

Customizing Your Sidebar122
Sidebars provide developers with plenty of options for experimentation and tweaking.

Conditional Tags123
To create versatile WP themes, understanding conditional tags is essential.

Stepping into Templates124
The basics of how templates work in WP.

Template Hierarchy125
Explains how templates work together in a theme.

Template Tags126
WP relies on a variety of template tags throughout a theme.

Using Custom Fields127
Custom fields open up a whole new world of opportunities for developers.

Search Engine Optimization for WordPress128
This article contains some general SEO information, as well as some that is specific to WP themes.

4. Blank Themes Link

It’s possible to save yourself a considerable amount of time in development by starting with a blank theme. Blank themes are not intended to be used as they are, but rather as a starting point or framework to increase efficiency with the tasks that are common to the development of almost every WP theme.

A free WP theme framework.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot130

A completely naked WP theme from Elliot Jay Stocks. (Note: some users are having problems with Starkers on WP 2.6. Improvements are hopefully soon to come.)

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot132

A starter theme with only very basic styling.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot134

The Starter Theme Project135
This is basically an empty template. It is not a theme that is intended to work out of the box.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot136

5. WordPress Design Inspiration Link

Readers of Smashing Magazine are obviously familiar with excellent sources of design inspiration. The resources listed here will help you if you are specifically interested in seeing what others have been able to do on the WordPress (WP) platform.

We Love WP137
The best gallery dedicated strictly to websites powered by WP. It is updated rather frequently and has a decent-sized archive.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot138

The Gallery at WPCandy139
A bit of a smaller gallery than We Love WP, but still worth checking out if you’re interested in seeing what others are able to do with WP.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot140

Unmatched Style141
This design gallery has a tag for WP-powered sites.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot142

CSS Glance143
A large (and continually updated) category for WP.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot144

45 Beautiful and Creative WordPress Designs145
A mini-gallery from design blog Six Revisions.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot146

25 Outstanding WordPress Designs147
Another mini-gallery from Six Revisions.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot148

Creative Examples of WordPress Theme Modifications149
An interesting blog post that shows sample theme designs compared to the themes that were their starting point.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot150

60+ Unusual WP Blog Designs151
Noupe put together a bunch of designs that stand out.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot152

6. Icons for Your Themes: Link

Improve the look of your theme by using some icons that are available for free.

RSS: Best Design Practices and Icons153
A collection of RSS-feed icons from Smashing Magazine.

Icons Pack154

110+ Free RSS Icons to Show Off Your RSS Feed155
A nice collection that will give you some options when it comes to RSS.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot156

Fresh, Free and Gorgeous RSS/Feed Icons157
A previous collection from Smashing Magazine.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot158

Cheers: A Free “Social” Icon Set159
12 icons of glasses and social media from Smashing Magazine.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot160

Feed Icons161
If you’re looking for the standard RSS icon, get it here.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot162

7. Places to Distribute Free Themes You Have Developed Link

Many theme developers choose to distribute their themes from their own websites or blogs because it draws more visitors and gives them control over the distribution. However, there are some other places where you can try to get your theme listed. Some will simply link back to your website, and others will offer visitors direct downloads from their own websites. In general, make sure that you’re familiar and comfortable with the directory or gallery before submitting your theme. Some have been known to distribute themes with sponsored or hidden links.

Official WordPress Theme Directory163
There are around 300 themes included at the moment.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot164

Weblog Tools Collection165
This blog announces new themes and plug-ins to its 11,000+ subscribers.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot166

8. Galleries of Free Themes that Accept Submissions from Designers: Link

9. Marketplaces to Sell Your Themes Link

Most developers of premium themes will sell them from their own websites or blogs or, if they have several for sale, set up websites specifically for marketing and selling them. However, there are also some marketplaces that will sell your theme for you, in exchange for a cut of the profit.

Theme Forest173
A new and already popular marketplace for templates and themes, including those for WP.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot174

A similar marketplace for themes and templates.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot176

A marketplace for premium themes and plug-ins.

Wordpress Toolbox Screenshot178

For more WP-related content at Smashing Magazine, see:


Footnotes Link

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
  39. 39
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
  48. 48
  49. 49
  50. 50
  51. 51
  52. 52
  53. 53
  54. 54
  55. 55
  56. 56
  57. 57
  58. 58
  59. 59
  60. 60
  61. 61
  62. 62
  63. 63
  64. 64
  65. 65
  66. 66
  67. 67
  68. 68
  69. 69
  70. 70
  71. 71
  72. 72
  73. 73
  74. 74
  75. 75
  76. 76
  77. 77
  78. 78
  79. 79
  80. 80
  81. 81
  82. 82
  83. 83
  84. 84
  85. 85
  86. 86
  87. 87
  88. 88
  89. 89
  90. 90
  91. 91
  92. 92
  93. 93
  94. 94
  95. 95
  96. 96
  97. 97
  98. 98
  99. 99
  100. 100
  101. 101
  102. 102
  103. 103
  104. 104
  105. 105
  106. 106
  107. 107
  108. 108
  109. 109
  110. 110
  111. 111
  112. 112
  113. 113
  114. 114
  115. 115
  116. 116
  117. 117
  118. 118
  119. 119
  120. 120
  121. 121
  122. 122
  123. 123
  124. 124
  125. 125
  126. 126
  127. 127
  128. 128
  129. 129
  130. 130
  131. 131
  132. 132
  133. 133
  134. 134
  135. 135
  136. 136
  137. 137
  138. 138
  139. 139
  140. 140
  141. 141
  142. 142
  143. 143
  144. 144
  145. 145
  146. 146
  147. 147
  148. 148
  149. 149
  150. 150
  151. 151
  152. 152
  153. 153
  154. 154
  155. 155
  156. 156
  157. 157
  158. 158
  159. 159
  160. 160
  161. 161
  162. 162
  163. 163
  164. 164
  165. 165
  166. 166
  167. 167
  168. 168
  169. 169
  170. 170
  171. 171
  172. 172
  173. 173
  174. 174
  175. 175
  176. 176
  177. 177
  178. 178
  179. 179
  180. 180
  181. 181
  182. 182
  183. 183

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

The Smashing team loves high-quality content and cares about the little details. Through our online articles, Smashing Books, eBooks as well as Smashing Conferences, we are committed to stimulating creativity and strengthening the web design community’s creative forces.

  1. 1

    Awesome. It’s about time somebody posted something like this!

  2. 2

    Very nice collection – definitely bookmarking this one. I’ve done a good 6 custom themes in the last handful of months, and demand just seems to be getting bigger for it… WP grants a lot of power to freelancers out there who don’t write backend script… but it can get a little hairy if you’re new, so having a good index page to check for easy to find resources is awesome… especially since their codex can be a bit unwieldy for non-coders. MakeDesign,NotWar is one of the themes that I’ve developed from a core Woothemes template, but I definitely used more than a few of the links you’ve posted above to modify it to my liking. Thanks again!

  3. 3

    Excellent article!!!

  4. 4

    Fantastic post! Loads of great resources covered.
    Thanks for featuring 3 posts from Noupe :)

  5. 5

    omg..that’s huge :) thank you smashing magazine!

  6. 6

    AMAZING! thank you, I’m just about to start learning Word press and this is exactly what I needed, amazing post.

  7. 7

    Thanks for all the linkbacks guys! Appreciate it a ton! Great post.

  8. 8
  9. 9

    holly molly, this crazy shitttt, two thumb up!! very usefull.

  10. 10

    excellent, thanks for this article!


  11. 11

    Wow! Fantastic post!

  12. 12

    Fantastic, and HUUUGE! Thanks for featuring PuttingBlogsFirst! :D

  13. 13

    what an amazing list. You weren’t kidding when you said toolbox and not just tips. I’ll have to read this over the next few weeks to take it all in and apply it to my own projects.

    thanks for this

  14. 14

    This is a stunning amount of content. Well done!

  15. 15

    OMG!!!! That’s awesome!!! THANK YOU :-)

  16. 16

    thank you very much, this article is huge!

  17. 17

    Excellent timing! I just set-up my first WP blog and was about to theme it. These articles will sure come in handy.

    Thanks Smashing!

  18. 18

    thank you, this source is useful!

  19. 19

    Wooha… A long post.. Lots of resources..
    Thank you smashers.. !

  20. 20

    This is excellent! I’ve been waiting for something just like this! Thanks!

  21. 21

    Thanks, i really enjoyed the article. Eventhough it took ages to load. *stupid it megacable!*

  22. 22

    Wow, never once thought I’d have a featured link on smashingmagazine :)Thanks Steven!

  23. 23

    This is a fantastic post. Comprehensive, and something I will keep bookmarked and marked and marked again :)

  24. 24

    this wud have been great last month when i was creating my first wptheme lol well better late than never i guess ;) thanx it will be helpful

  25. 25

    Great! post as usual, Blank theme are good to start.

  26. 26

    Amazing Dev Tools! One of the best posts on WordPress and WordPress resources. A smashing thanks!!

  27. 27

    wow . what a article? really it’s good.

  28. 28

    Great post. Really.

  29. 29

    I’m looking forward to make my own wp theme. So this article is very very usefull and unique in the www :)
    Thanks Steven thanks Smashing!

  30. 30

    Great article we all love and respect WP, as an idea maybe Drupal developers toolbox as a next topic?


↑ Back to top