When I left the UK Civil Service in 2008 to go freelance, one thing I needed was a website to show prospective clients the services I offered, my experience and skills as well as showcase my portfolio of work.
I was already running a personal website back then, but it was more of a ‘blog’ whereby I wrote reviews of films and music albums. The website was created in pure HTML, and minimal CSS and it was edited using Macromedia Dreamweaver and Contribute. At the time, I wasn’t using a Content Management System (CMS) of any kind, and as my website grew and grew it started to become problematic to maintain as well as manage all the hyperlinks (nightmare).
I thought to myself at the time: “There has to be something better than this?”
It was then I discovered Nick La. His work came to my attention via a tutorial he wrote for a web design magazine. I viewed his personal website and was absolutely stunned and amazed by the beauty, design, artistry, and colour; it was wonderful. I explored Mr. La’s website and was also amazed at how simple it was to use, the continuity of the design and I like the way his articles and information were displayed. I looked at the source code to see how the website was created and I notice that the Meta-Generator tag stated ‘WordPress‘.
At that time, I knew of WordPress but I knew it more as a blogging application rather than a CMS. From then, I started researching all things WordPress: What can it do? How easy was it to use? How easy was it to develop for? How do I install it? What do I need to install it?
I have to admit, it was a massive learning curve; it was very frustrating at times as well, but I enjoyed it. I eventually installed my own instance of WordPress on my hosting server (version 2.3.2), but it took me a lot longer to install than the claimed ‘5 mins‘! WordPress’s main programming languages are PHP and MySQL and these languages were totally new to me, so I had to learn on the go as well.
Buying themes from Premium theme houses and off ThemeForest helped me immensely because it gave great understanding of how things worked within WordPress, like Widgets and Frameworks. The first theme that I installed was iTheme by Nick La; I learned a huge amount from just this one theme alone.
I relied on a few resources in the initial stages of learning. I read various WordPress articles from sitepoint.com, smashingmagazine.com, and watched WordPress training videos from Lynda.com which were all very helpful in getting me up to speed.
I also purchased and read various books on the WordPress CMS, but found them to become out of date very quickly as WordPress got upgraded over the months, so be cautious when you buy books. The books that I purchased were:
- Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog – Thord Daniel Hedengren
- WordPress Anthology – Mick Olinik and Raena Jackson Armitage
- Digging into WordPress – Chris Coyier and Jeff Starr
- WordPress: Pushing the Limits – Rachel McCollin
I also started to follow various WordPress developers and online websites via social media who released various articles and tutorials which were extremely helpful. YouTube was very helpful as well, especially when you are researching Plugins; one particular channel that was extremely helpful was Pressthis.
I have been learning WordPress since 2008 and I have learned so much that it is now my full-time profession and business by creating WordPress websites for clients or helping and supporting clients with their existing WordPress websites.
If you know WordPress, or you develop in WordPress, let me know in the Comments below how you learned the CMS.