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advancement to excellence How To Become A Top WordPress Developer


First, let’s set a few things straight: becoming a top WordPress developer is hard work — very hard work. It’s going to take a lot of time, energy and determination. If you’re looking for an easy checklist or some “fast pass” to the top, you’re going to waste your time. Being one of the best is hard, and statistically speaking, the odds are stacked against you.


By the way, installing WordPress, reading a few tutorials and customizing a few themes does not make someone a top developer. They may call themselves an “Expert”, and that’s fine. They may know more than the average person. But a top developer moves far beyond the basics, and pushes the very boundaries of what is possible. They innovate, contribute to the community, and demonstrate mastery in the work they do. So I want you to be more than an “expert”, I want you to be one of the best.

Why Be A Top Developer Link

Why not? If you work with WordPress (or plan to start), why just settle for being average? There’s too much “average” in life already. “Normal” is highly overrated. There are other reasons, though. For instance, the top WordPress developers:

  • Make the most money
    Demand for WordPress development is high and clients are willing to pay more for developers who are the best in their field.
  • Get the best clients
    When you are at the top, you have the freedom to say “No” to the projects you don’t want, and “Yes” to the projects you do.
  • Have the most influence
    Being at the top means you have influence (and responsibility) and the capability to shape the future of WordPress as well as the ecosystem that is built around it.

One Hour of Reading a Day Link

If you’re going to make it to the top, then you need to spend at least one hour each workday focused on reading and learning more about WordPress — outside of any development work. There are no shortcuts, and no other ways around it. Learning and mastering WordPress is going to take time. If you watch TV, cut it out — more than 90% of it isn’t good for you anyway. If you’re a gamer, sell your games or throw them away. Reaching the top takes commitment and sacrifice and the best place to start is with the things in life that aren’t doing you any good anyway.

Start with one dedicated, distraction-free hour of reading for each workday. Shut off instant messages, put your phone on silent, and read. Take notes on what you learn along the way. You’ll find the time goes by faster than you would have expected. Keep at it, day after day, week after week, and month after month. And as you start to see success, put in more time for reading.

Alternatively, consider a three-hour block, two to three times a week. The key is to make a commitment to learning and honoring that commitment by setting aside the necessary time to see it through.

Enrolling in WordPress University Link


There’s never been a better time to learn and master WordPress than right now. There are so many excellent resources available to those willing to put the time and effort into using them. Before you can start gaining experience, you need some education. Sure, you could just jump in and start breaking things. But I suggest you wait, and cultivate the self-discipline it takes to learn — there will be plenty of time to break things later. As you start your education, it’s important to begin with the social aspect of your experience.

Hang Out with the Right Crowd Link

We become like those we associate with. If you want to be one of the top WordPress developers, start spending time with those at the top. Read their blogs, follow them on Twitter, give feedback on their thoughts and ideas, go to WordCamps3 to meet them and listen to their talks. Read the interviews on CodePoet4. Follow their examples, ask them for advice, follow their advice, and report back.

Here is a small list of WordPress developers to get you started:

Read the Material Link

The amount of reading material available on WordPress is overwhelming. There are thousands of people talking about WordPress and it is becoming increasingly difficult to filter through the noise. There are authorities, however, and when you commit to mastering WordPress, then you should start your journey by finding the highest quality resources and concentrating your efforts just on those.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

  • WordPress Codex
    The WordPress codex32 is a community-edited repository for all things WordPress. Start with the very basics33 and focus on mastering the WordPress interface itself from an end-user’s perspective. Learn the WordPress semantics34. Read about theme design35 and plugin development36.
  • Books on WordPress
    There are more than a dozen books37 available on WordPress. Start off with the titles of greatest interest to you and then work towards the others. Think “WordPress For Dummies” is too basic? Maybe not. Your clients may read it and it’s important to have their perspectives. When you’re finished, thank the author and write a review.
  • Blogs on WordPress
    Find and follow the best blogs about WordPress. Subscribe to their feeds. Read them regularly and give feedback to the authors. A few of my favorite blogs are WordPress on Smashing Magazine38, WP Tuts+39, and WP Candy40.

Understand the Technology Link

If you’re going to master WordPress as a developer you need to understand the technology. If you’re already a programmer and PHP/MySQL aren’t new to you, great. Make sure your skills are up-to-date. If you’re new to programming, start learning.

Here are some ways to begin:

  • Learn PHP and MySQL
    It’s really important that you know PHP and MySQL and that you learn the best practices. A few out-dated tutorials aren’t going to do it. And if you learned it a few years ago, a lot of the practices you picked up are probably out-of-date. Not sure where to begin? Start with Lynda.com41 or Learnable.com42. Learn about MySQL performance43.
  • Explore the Codebase
    Take time to explore the WordPress codebase on Trac44 and on Xref45. Read through the documentation to understand how things work. Look up what doesn’t make sense to you and ask questions. Familiarize yourself with how WordPress is structured.
  • Run The Nightly
    Setup a local development environment46 and run the nightly build47 as a way to stay up-to-date on WordPress as it’s being developed.
  • Read “Make WordPress”
    A good way to understand the technology is to follow the development discussions taking place on make.wordpress.org48. You can follow discussions about the Core49, Plugins50, and Themes51 for starters.

Do the Homework Link

Put what you’re learning into practice. Start with your own WordPress websites. After you read a tutorial, follow it on your own. Experiment. Break things down. Track what you’ve learned and record your insights and breakthroughs for future reference. Spend as much time as you can taking what you’ve learned and applying it to your own projects and experiments.

Here are a few areas to explore:

  • WordPress APIs
    Start by familiarizing yourself with the list of available APIs52 on the Codex. Read through the information available for each API and experiment with each (some will be easier than others). Search for tutorials for each of the APIs to give you some real-world perspective and experience on what can be done with each.
  • Ajax in WordPress
    Even if you’re already familiar with Ajax, learn about the use of Ajax in WordPress53. Then, move on to tackle using Ajax in plugin development54. Search for tutorials to develop your experience further.
  • WordPress PHP Classes
    Familiarize yourself with the list of classes55 created by WordPress developers. Experiment with them on your own projects and master them. In particular, pay special attention to WP_Query56, WP_Theme57, and wpdb58. Search for tutorials on each of the classes, as well as non-core, community contributed classes like WPAlchemy59.

Gaining Experience With WordPress Link


With your education well underway, it’s time to gain real-world experience — and lots of it. Your path to the top is lined with trials and difficulties and gaining experience outside the safe playgrounds of your own projects is a critical step in the right direction. One of the best ways to get started is doing work for others.

Take On Clients Link

Working for clients, paid or free, is one of the best ways to gain experience. Clients introduce challenges you would never have to deal with working on your own. If you’re just getting started, learn how to get your first client61. While the market focus (large clients vs. small clients) will vary, the heart of the matter is get a lot of experience. The goal is to not just get a few hundred hours working on WordPress, but a few thousand. You need to put the time in with real-world experience and taking on clients is one of the best ways to do this.

Develop a Public Theme Link

Build a theme you’d actually use. Release it, paid or free. Listen to the feedback you get from developers and end-users who use your theme. Ask for a peer review from theme designers you respect. Update your theme as you get feedback and as your abilities improve. Work hard to make a theme that you can be proud of.

Develop a Plugin Link

As you learn and work with WordPress you’ll eventually find a need that hasn’t been met. When you do, meet it yourself. Take what you’ve learned about plugin development and put it into practice. Write a plugin that’s secure and that solves a real need, without being another “me too” contribution to the already massive plugin community. Release it, paid or free, and get feedback from the people who put your plugin to use.

Contribute a Patch Link

Read the Core Contributor handbook62 and learn how to submit a patch63. It can be a daunting process your first time around, but look for a challenge that you can tackle, and stick to it. Contributing a patch is an invaluable experience and an important part of being able to consider yourself a top WordPress developer.

Master Debugging Link

Learning how to write bug-free code is a critical step in becoming a great developer. Start with the Codex and learn about debugging in WordPress64. Read Andrew Nacin’s post on 5 Ways To Debug WordPress65. Familiarize yourself with some of the developer oriented plugins, like Core Control66, Debug Bar67 and Log Deprecated Notices68.

Joining The WordPress Community Link


As you continue your education and put what you’ve learned into practice, the next step is to become an active member of the community. You may be a fantastic developer, but it doesn’t count for much if no one knows you exist. Spend time investing in the community. One of the best ways to do so is sharing what you know.

Write Tutorials Link

I got my start back in 2006 with a simple tutorial I wrote70 (be warned, it is a little dated). I took what I had just figured out and poured it into a tutorial to help others and save them the time (and headache) I had just experienced. A lot of people read it, a few wrote back and said thank you, and some people even asked me to do some work for them. So write tutorials that take the best of what you’ve just learned and present it to others so they may reap the benefits of your efforts. It’s worth it.

Contribute to the Codex Link

As you spend time reading through the Codex you will notice areas that need improvement. Learn about becoming a volunteer in the Codex71. Dedicate time to improving the quality of the documentation. While documentation in the Codex is continually improving, there are still functions and features in the WordPress core that go undocumented. If an area is beyond your current capabilities, bring it to the attention of others and embrace the opportunity to learn more in the process.

Participate in Forums Link

Most WordPress beginners start out asking questions on the official support forums72. Start there by answering questions (even the silly, basic ones — we all start somewhere). From there, become an active member of the WordPress Stack Exchange community73. Answer questions and learn from the answers that other developers are giving.

Present at WordCamps Link

Attend upcoming WordCamps74 and look for opportunities to present and give value to the WordPress community. A true sign of your expertise is your ability to take what you know and teach it to someone else. Read the Diary Of A WordCamp75. Want even more of a challenge? Become an organizer76 and start a WordCamp near you.

Reward And Responsibility Link

The reward at the top is worth the effort. If you’re building a business around WordPress (read 7 reasons why you should77), a mastery of WordPress is a critical step to your success. In 2011, according to the official WordPress Survey results78, “6,800 self-employed respondents were responsible for over 170,000 websites, personally”. Of those, the average median hourly rate was $50/hour. Based on the Pareto principle79, the top 20% of those developers (less than 1,400) are responsible for 80% of the work done (and they make more than $50/hour).

Now, being in that top 20% carries with it a high-level of responsibility. Staying at the top requires a commitment to ongoing education and continual experience. Never stop learning and improving. Being at the top also puts a level of responsibility on your shoulders for the health and future of the WordPress ecosystem. Get involved. Weigh in on important matters. Contribute. Put a percentage of your success back into building up WordPress and ensuring its future.

Conclusion Link

Becoming a top WordPress developer requires a mindset of continual improvement and a willingness to do the hard work. It starts with an intentional focus on education and then moves to extensive real-world experience. Finally, the title of a “top developer” demands dedication to the WordPress community, as well as recognition of the responsibilities by those who mold and shape the future of WordPress.

What about you? What advice do you have for becoming a top WordPress developer?

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Jonathan Wold is the husband of a beautiful redhead named Joslyn and the father of a baby boy named Jaiden. He works at Sabramedia, a web design and development company that specializes in WordPress powered media sites. He is also a core developer and evangelist for Newsroom, a newspaper paywall and CMS built for the newspaper industry.

  1. 1

    I am currently developing my own framework and I am well aware at how hard it is, not to mention time consuming. However this quote

    “If you watch TV, cut it out — more than 90% of it isn’t good for you anyway. If you’re a gamer, sell your games or throw them away”

    I have a real issue with. You are most productive when you have goals and if you don’t reward yourself for reaching those goals you will burn out. Bad advice.

    • 2

      actually he gave some good advice
      Reward yourself by going out to a movie or restaurant or do something recreational. TV and games, may feel like an immediate reward, but they you drain you dry not rejuvenate your creative juices.

      • 3

        agreed. I don’t have a TV in my room. Nor do I buy more games for the XBox in my house. If I do, I’ll spend more time on those things than I will being productive. Although honestly, if I love what I’m doing I won’t want to play video games or watch TV… I won’t even want to eat lunch or talk to friends…etc Thats how I am when I’m developing with Ruby on Rails. I get OBSESSED with that. Although, that’s because I’m creating something awesome and being creative. Installing themes and messing about with content isn’t as fun.

    • 5

      You don’t need to take it word for word. ;)

      I think he’s just basically saying, some people can spend half their day watching TV or ALL night playing games.. simply cut it back. Or give your poor eye balls a rest, staring at screens all day is rough.

      I spend only a few hours a week still playing games while learning PHP and WordPress.

    • 6

      It’s true that you have to be careful to protect against burnout. And 30-60 minutes of a relaxing activity you enjoy each day is a good way to prevent that. Whether or not television or gaming actually fits the bill is questionable, but to each his own.

      The problem, I think, comes in when people spend hours and hours each day on stuff like this. It’s easy to do – just look up some statistics on how long the average American spends watching TV each day. It’s nothing short of frightening. Think of how much we could accomplish if most of that time were spent productively. People could write novels, create art, build houses, read books, campaign, take classes…or become WordPress experts. So much possibility.

      • 7

        The problem is that there’s more to life than merely being productive. Secondarily, there’s a lot of studies out there that have found that after a certain point putting more hours in doesn’t really help. If someone’s putting in 6-10 hours a day 5 days each week they’ll be fine. They can confidently play games, go for a bike ride and do other things.

        There’s a myth that to be really good at something you need to not do anything but that. More important is to love what you do, throw yourself into it when you’re doing it and then be able to also enjoy downtime.

        • 8

          I can’t totally agree – if you truly like developing wordpress, than you can work 10/7 or a little more, no problem :) BUT there are always times when you have less work, or frustrating project. If it is less work you must go out, enjoy good weather, walk a bit simple stuff. If it is frustrating work, than just sit down, make a plan and force yourself to do it NOW, TODAY. Those two situations are the only one that burn me out, although learning how to manage social life, challenge myself with networking events and visiting family a bit more often solved it :)

          I even used to do web design & development plus 3d visualisations :O I wanted to have variety of work, so I could jump from one thing to another. That sounds easy in theory, but amount of learning when it comes to 3d is unbelievable..! I was forced to give it up.. all in all you can’t be jack of all trades and still be the best in what you do. And I am interested only in being the best part ;D or at least that’s the target

          WordPress is superb

        • 9

          A lot of you have wildly missed the point of this article. The author did not decree “that all WordPress developers shall cast out thy Playstations and thy boxes of X!” No, he said that if you want to be a top tier developer then that is what you must do, and if you can be one of the best in the world, in an extremely popular line of work and do it without that level of dedication then you are very gifted. You can develop WordPress and clock out at 5pm, and still enjoy working WP, and enjoy your recreation. However, there are people eating, breathing and sleeping improvements. If you want to keep up, there is not much time to spare.
          I do agree however, you can’t go 15 hours on a single subject, you’ll burn out. If you work 8 hours a day, you’ll get lots of WP experience, but you’ll also bottleneck your skills. Clients expect things a certain way, in a certain amount of time, and the things they ask you to do will help you to solve problems and complete tasks that you wouldn’t normally on your own. But they are most likely not going to pay you $50/hr to read up on the latest changes and happenings with WordPress, that’s part of your craft. If you only research the things that you think you need to solve certain problems as they arise, you won’t be pushing the envelope and you won’t be a “Top Developer”, you’ll just be developing, and that’s fine. However, there will be people, working 10 hours, then researching, then doing their own projects, then checking the forums. We all don’t have to be that person that spends 18 hours a day breathing WP, but if that is what we want to do, it’s pretty cool that Smashing Magazine provided us with an article to push us into the right direction.

    • 10

      If I got a penny for every time I read or heard that silly personal time management advice I would be a millionaire by now. The way the author executed his advice was not professional. I do believe he means well but he got carried away a bit there.

      To add, there seems to be some frustration from the author towards the so called “experts”. I get it and totally agree with that but it’s also called marketing – terribly executed and none deserved at times but it’s there and people will try to oversell themselves to get food on the table. So chillax a bit bub… they are not going to go away.

      I understand the need for setting the record straight and I get the fact it was done with good intent to educate the masses but the statements made in the beginning should be avoided as it set the tone for the rest of the article.

    • 11

      Video games are proven to increase problem solving skills. Most games that’s what you’re doing the whole time, solving challenging problems.

      As a developer of the net how can you say ‘throw out all your games’ as general advice? Maybe gaming isn’t one of your things, but that’s personal. Games are a brother to what is going on here as it’s ‘interactive media’ in its most engaging form.

      Television the same. Depending on what you watch there’s inspiration to be gained, things to be seen, laughs to be had. All of this is generated by fellow creative and technical professionals.

      On a ‘professional’ level it shows a lack of respect for related media. A lot of thought and process goes into both mediums that you say WP developers shouldn’t partake in at all. Approached with a brain that is thinking and not a brain that is mindlessly consuming, a lot is learned, skills are sharpened, and abilities are attained.

      In general this article is lacking. Lets talk about how to become a top performer based in statistics and smart decisions for the future. Lets label areas that are projected to grow within the field or something along that nature.

      The approach you describe here is a ‘brute force’ type of strategy that leaves much to chance when it’s all said and done. In the end when you choose an approach that values breadth and lacks sophistication, you won’t have time for things like games or TV.

    • 12

      Tate, I appreciate you calling me out. I went back and forth on how to convey the point and chose a route that came out a bit stronger than I had intended. I do enjoy time away from work and agree wholeheartedly that it is a critical component of a well balanced life.

      In my own experience, I spent a good year of my teenage life playing computer games that offered me very little long-term value, especially in the light of what else I could have been doing with that time (like learning web development). Speaking from that experience I have a particularly strong stance towards a lifestyle of gaming (versus the occasional game, especially as a social activity) or watching a bunch of TV (there are a few shows my wife and I enjoy together).

    • 13

      Change your mindset .. Treat WordPress like a game :) Job Done

    • 14

      I am also developing my own PHP framework, but I do sometimes hack WordPress and MediaWiki frameworks.

  2. 15

    Inspiring article.

  3. 16

    You spelled Cory Miller’s name wrong – it’s @corymiller303 – no extra “e”. (I feel his pain, since everyone always inserts an extra “e” in my name, too! It was doubly bad before I got married, they’d do it to my last name, too. Drives my dad *insane*. LOL)

    Nice article – I’ve been looking for a handbook on contributing – now I know where it is!

  4. 20

    I don’t know if it’s just because I read this:

    But the way this article is wrote seems negative and reminds me of a teacher blazing on about how you won’t amount to anything unless you try – I knew that already. The resources and the overall advice around improving your skills when it comes to WordPress are really good. For an opening paragraph though it comes across as pessimistic to me – no offence Jonathan, it’s just that I like to be surrounded by optimism to drive me forward.

    Thanks a lot for the time and effort put in for the resources, much appreciated

  5. 21

    The most helpful thing I’ve found for improving WordPress development, is practice and then, a bunch more practice.

    Recently however, I’ve found great value in the WordPress community. Multitudes of sites (especially WordPress’) are filled with questions, and experienced developers who answer them.

    My recommendation: if you’re new to WordPress, practice with a few test sites before taking on clients. Books and articles don’t compare with the nitty-gritty, problem-solving experience.

    Nice article!

  6. 22

    Before trying to be become a top WordPress developer you should try to become a decent PHP programmer. Knowing the basics when it comes to programming should be the absolute first step.

    (nice article by the way, just felt that this could be said an extra time)

  7. 25

    If you’re familiar with basic PHP, is definitely worth checking out.

  8. 27

    why go through all the effort when you can just grab themes from themeforest and resell them to clients as your own?

    • 28

      This, just need to remember to remove the theme credit and add your own, like “Designed, Developed and Masterminded by WebPro Studios, Global Skills”.

    • 30

      @Paul – There are MANY reasons:
      1. It is rare pre-made themes fit the client’s needs entirely and not need customization.
      Many WordPress “experts” force their clients into pre-made themes because they either can’t program their own or are lazy.

      2. When something breaks (and it always does) you need to be able to fix the issue. If you built the
      theme yourself, you’d quickly know what their issue is and could fix it versus having to go through
      someone else’s code to figure it out.

      3. Themes are a great time saver and you can “get by” using them but like the author said: You’ll always be average. Like the million other people who are average with no advanced or innovative skills to separate themselves from the rest. You’ll be stuck with crappy clients and end up producing “Ok” websites that nobody cares about or visits.

      4. It’s an attitude and mindset. True Web Professionals want to change the web and make the web better than when they found it. The clock punchers and paycheck collectors will make a living but contribute nothing to the web other than add to the trash pile of useless sites.

    • 32

      Konstantin Kovshenin

      August 24, 2012 1:35 am

      For those of you who did not understand, this and Noel’s comments is sarcasm :) Global Skills muwhahaha!

  9. 35

    Building plugins just for building plugins is useless for me.
    There is too much unusable/not-updated/buggy WP plugins.

    Do your custom themes from scratch first, build your plugin if needed!

  10. 36

    All said and done. WordPress is only as good as it’s weakest link. I have technical issue and have sent 5 posts over the past 5 months concerning this. Not one has been replied to. That means I can’t make changes to my blog, which I need to as there are a few simple mistakes in the layout!
    I am currently looking into another blog organisation and will move over when I have the time to set things up again.

  11. 37

    Hey, I tried using the contact form, but I wasn’t able to (kept getting all sorts of errors).

    Anyway, you missed the last character from my name. Instead of:

    Silviu-Cristian Burc

    it should be:

    Silviu-Cristian Burcă

    or at least:

    Silviu-Cristian Burca

  12. 39

    Awesome reading.

  13. 40

    wordpress is that successful because its more a blog then a CMS and as a customer you do not spend a lot of money to get a website done. For a designer its a breeze to make a wordpress-site in hours; so even if the client pays not a lot you earn your money. At least, if a customer cannot handle wordpress, he is not ready to own a website.
    – Thats the reason for the 20% make all the work – You would not say anything like this about typo3. And you will not be a top wordpress developer if you only handle wordpress sites.

  14. 41

    By the way, why is WordPress so important? Why are there so many articles appearing about WordPress on Smashing Magazine? Don’t get me wrong, I do not have anything against it. But once tried to create a website / blog with it and soon it felt very inflexible. There are other systems like redaxo where you can create nearly everything with a bit of php knowledge.

  15. 43

    Loved the article, it is very overwhelming at times because some days you feel like you have it figured out, and the next you’re reminded of what you don’t. Good to know there is a community of people riding the same ride with me and willing to support me along the way. Thanks for the article and resources

  16. 44

    I am surprised at how much rap the author received for suggesting that those who aspire to become the best in their field or in this case (word press) must refrain from watching television. The author isn’t talking about becoming a decent developer, this article is tailored to those who intend to live and breath code to become GREAT at what they do, after all only championed minded people will make the most money and get the best jobs. It’s clear as in any other industry, to reach the top you must sacrifice time wasting activities such as TV which honestly shouldn’t even be debatable.

    • 45

      What is the point in a 6 (or higher) figure wage if you’ll never use it because you’re too busy working at being the best?

      Even champion sportsmen, award-winning actors or revolutionary scientists spend at least some free time doing something other than working. None of that prevents them from being the best and doing their best in whatever it is they do, however. In fact, more often than not it only helps them and inspires them to do even better, greater things.

      Creativity is born and bred through a variety of different ways. Spending your life working on just one thing can stifle it, but experiencing as many things as you can can help it prosper and grow. Even if you’re not working towards your goals directly, doing something that helps inspires or interests you (like reading a book, drawing, watching a movie, etc) can help you further your journey to achieving them.

      Work is important, but so is play.

      • 46

        The point being made is to GET there, you need to eat, breathe and sleep code. Once you are there making the 6 figures, then you can enjoy your life. Yes, the champion sportsmen, actors and scientists are enjoying their lives, but you dont see what it took to get there.

        I used to play college football…. the time spent for football is a lot more than just the 2 hours allowed by the NCAA for pratice. … time spent dressing for practice, showering, post-practice workouts, nutrition, studying playbooks, watching game-film, team meetings, etc. Its easy to spend 4-5 hours for a sport in college just for the sport, and then you have classes and then study time… and then you need time to relax as well. Most top football players go through at least this…so when they make the NFL, they dont have the time needed for school anymore… so now a 12 hour day for school, football and studying is now 4-5 hours a day only for football…. depending how much you want to put into watching game film and studying the playbook. You can easily put in ONLY an 8 hour day once you hit the big time, and that will be more than what college kids have to put into a day to get to the NFL.

        So I believe the author is talking about GETTING to that level of excellence….the rewards come after.

      • 47

        I totaly agree!

        This was acctually Einsteins working day:

        10 in the morning going to university to work
        At 1 go home to lunch and relax
        at 3 go back to work and and 6 go home again, enjoy life and play music and stuff, probably also reading science-books or having fun trying out some ideas – but not with the feeling to be at work or be set under preshure. Thats -at least for me- the best time to get ideas and inspiration, or to learn new stuff.

        thats 6 hours of work, BUT concentrated and healthy work. You can Work 12 hours reaching nothing, or you can work 6 hours and be very productive – thats what i want to say.

        I think it was a spanish actor who said something like this:
        “Sucessfull people are people who know how to acctually STOP woking”

        At the end I guess the most important thing is just passion…. I mean this situation when hobby and work are hardly distinguishable.

  17. 48

    Thanks for this article, especially the linked resources.
    Is there any way I can volunteer with someone in helping create wordpress websites? I have done 3 websites so far by myself and am looking to expand my knowledge before doing it fulltime?
    Thanks all.

  18. 49

    Don’t look too far down the road and become overwhelmed with how far you have to go. Take manageable steps and have fun with each one. Enjoy the process of learning and applying your skills in a valuable way and the rest will take care of itself.

    “Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

    • 50

      Andrew Richardson

      August 24, 2012 9:07 am

      Agreed! This article does NOT make me want to jump into wordpress development even though I’ve been dabbling with it for a while now.

      A better article would have taken a look at how you can break the process of learning wordpress development into manageable steps.

      It’s pretty useless to me to tell me “it’s gonna take a long time and a lot of work and here’s a bunch of resources. STUDY UP!”… How do I know what I need to learn and what I don’t? Obviously I don’t need to learn every aspect of photoshop to be a professional graphic designer and I would be wasting my time if I did learn it all because 80% of it won’t be used regularly. Will learning 100% of the wordpress codex really make me the best wordpress developer ever? Unlikely…

  19. 51

    “It’s really important that you know PHP and MySQL and that you learn the best practices. ”

    Learn the best practices to ditch them after “learning” WordPress…

  20. 52

    Thanks for this Article
    I’m a developer
    I think Before do anything ,should be do a lot of interest!

  21. 53

    What about those company who build wordpress framework to make more easier the process of wordpress development (drag and drop framework) that you don’t need even know how to programming or at least basic knowledge of css or html . Are they contributing to form top wordpress developers? . In my opinion to be a top wordpress you have to be able to code a wordpress website from scratch so you need to know a good html css php or javascript skills to do that. I think that makes you a good wordpress developer.

  22. 54

    Well Said, Most of the part of the article stands true for all other fields in development.

    Very important these days is Reading 1 hour daily. I have found more developers Watching Videos and Reading articles that provide Ad-Hoc solutions. But, Real deal is Reading the fundamentals and mastering basics through reading.

    No alternative to reading, I believe.

  23. 55

    Alexander Stanuga

    August 23, 2012 11:43 pm

    Fantastic article with great resources, just what I’ve been looking for

  24. 56

    Thanks for this article! Another confirmation that I need to read more ;-)

  25. 57

    Thanks for taking your time to write this article. It’s pretty interesting to know how developers learn.

    Just a comment on the first picture in the post where you are trying to convey the message that there are only a few top wordpress developers. Instead of dividing the average wp developers on the left and the top ones on the right, you can put the top developers on the the top and the average developers below. I think it works better this as that’s how our minds interpret graphic designs.

    In addition, try not to use blue and red to denote average and excellent as it got a little confusing at first when I thought you were trying to use blue for the male figures and red for the female figures and was trying to say that there were a lot more male developers as compared to female developers. Since the convention is such that blue is for male figures and red is for female figures, it took me quite a while to realize that you are not trying to do that as that’s what we normally see before entering the restrooms! Perhaps you should use other colors like yellow and purple or beige and grey. Just a suggestion. Thanks!

  26. 58

    Thanks 4 the article, i think it really underlines all the key points.

    Keep Smashing


  27. 59

    Thank you but I stopped reading after “If you’re a gamer, sell your games or throw them away.”

  28. 60

    Wouter Tinbergen

    August 24, 2012 3:52 am

    I was just setting the goals for my own expertise improvement for Q3-Q4 and this article made me make decisions:
    – Create and release a theme : NOW
    – Learn the API’s better.

    thank you for this very complete overview!

  29. 61

    For participating in the WordPress community, don’t forget WordPress meetup groups. Local WordCamps only happen once a year, but your local WP community might be meeting up once a month or more. I run the Los Angeles WP Meetup group, and we’re over 1,000 members.

    It’s beyond helpful to connect with local people who share the same passion and pains as you do. And you’ll discover rockstar WordPress developers right in your own back yard.

  30. 62

    Cool article. I love wordpress, the API hook/plugin system makes me feel like I can do anything.


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