This set of resources is aimed at plugin and theme developers of all levels of experience. It’s intended to help you find useful stuff, whatever stage you’re at – from absolute beginner to hardcore expert.
One of the challenges in compiling this list was how to structure it. I’ve tried to list the sections in a meaningful way, starting with the very basic stuff and progressing to more advanced elements, but it wasn’t always possible to provide everything in a sequential way. If you’ve got any suggestions, additions, feedback, please let me know in the comments below.
- Learning the basics
- Tutorials on how to write a WordPress plugin
- Essential WordPress.org reading
- Courses on how to develop a WordPress plugin
- WordPress developer training
- Technical writers and developers
- Design courses
- Resources for WordPress theme developers
- Testing and reviewing
- Promotion and publicizing
- Tools and generators
- Frameworks and libraries
- Insights and metrics
Learning the basics
If you are completely new to WordPress, you might like to consider some of these resources for learning the basic technologies behind how websites are built. If you’re already comfortable with the basics, you can skip ahead to the next section which deals with learning resources for WordPress.
HTML training resources
Learn the basics of HTML online.
CSS training resources
Learn the basics of CSS
PHP training resources
PHP is the building block of WordPress. Whether you are developing a plugin or a theme, you will need to know PHP. The following is a short list of online courses and resources for learning PHP:
Tutorials on how to write a WordPress plugin
If you’ve never built a plugin before, there are many tutorials out there for end-to-end plugin development, starting from scratch and going through the entire process step by step, finishing up with a completed working plugin. Here are a selected few:
How to begin writing your first WordPress plugin
This excellent introduction to creating your own plugin is by Pippin Williamson.
Tuts+ Coffee Break
Tuts+ offer a coffee-time series, where you can learn new aspects of WordPress in small, manageable steps. The ‘Your First Plugin’ tutorial is a simple introduction to building plugins.
Scotch offer a tutorial on how to build a plugin based on using the WordPress plugin boilerplate.
Treehouse have thousands of hours of content on all aspects of web design and development, including a five-hour course on how to build a WordPress plugin.
This is Daniel Pataki’s contribution on how to build a plugin.
Essential WordPress.org reading
These resources are drawn from WordPress.org itself.
Writing a plugin
Not exactly a tutorial, but crucial information on the principles of writing a WordPress plugin
Submission and promotion
What to do once you’ve completed your plugin (but worth reading before you start)
WordPress coding standards
The Make WordPress Core handbook on coding standards
Again, not a tutorial, but essential information on using the Settings API
Courses on how to develop a WordPress plugin
This section covers online training on how to develop a WordPress plugin.
Plugin Development 101
Pippin Williamson’s course on creating a series of small plugins.
Plugins for Beginners
Brian Hogg’s video course for plugin developers just starting out on their journey.
Making Pro Plugins
The advanced version of Brian Hogg’s course, covering how to make commercial plugins.
WordPress Plugin Development
A Lynda.com course hosted by Jeff Starr on developing your own plugin.
WordPress developer training
More generalized developer training, looking at different aspects of WordPress development. If you’re looking to learn more about specific aspects of plugin and theme development, rather than the process from start to finish, check out the resources below.
WPMU Dev Academy
WordPress online training courses, offering courses for beginner level through to advanced.
Sitepoint offers a number of online courses aimed at WordPress developers.
- WordPress API
- Real world projects
Another course from Zac Gordon: at the time of writing, this is a very new course on the fundamentals of developing for Gutenberg.
Technical writers and developers
Here you’ll find a list of the developers and technical writers behind many of the tutorials and articles listed in this post. Note that some of the content here is free, some is paid.
- Pippin’s Plugins
- Tom McFarlin
- Paul Underwood
- Konstantin Kovshenin
- Igor Benic
- Rich Tabor
- Daniel Pataki
- Carl Alexander
- Bill Erickson
- Eric Mann
- Devin Price
- Smashing Magazine
Currently just a free email course for beginners, with a more advanced course promised.
Resources for WordPress theme developers
Tuts+ theme development articles
A collection of articles and tutorials on all aspects of WordPress theme development
10 Practical Tips to Building Quality WordPress themes
Rich Tabor’s guide, based on his experience as a reviewer for Envato
Themeshaper is the team responsible for Automattic themes.
Testing and reviewing
A set of resources to help you test your WordPress product
Overview of automated testing from the Make WordPress Core blog
Unit tests for WordPress plugins tutorial
A comprehensive series of tutorials on unit testing for your WordPress plugin, written by Pippin Williamson.
Introduction to unit testing
Carl Alexander’s introduction to the subject.
Theme unit test data
The definitive unit test data – you’ll need this if you are submitting a theme to the WordPress theme directory.
A variation / enhancement of the standard WordPress theme unit test data.
WordPress Theme Review
This is the process you need to go through to submit your theme to the WP directory.
Paid service run by Justin Tadlock and Sakin Shrestha, reviewers at WordPress.org, who will review your theme’s code.
Newsletters are an essential way of
clogging up your inbox keeping up to date with the industry. Here are a couple of quality WordPress newsletters for developers.
Weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals with a curated list of articles and tools
Weekly newsletter with articles and news
Thrice weekly newsletter from WPMU Dev
Places where you can share information and interact with other developers.
- WP Stack Exchange
- Intermediate WordPress Facebook Page
- Advanced WordPress Facebook Page
Promotion and publicizing
Here are a couple of useful resources for finding sites and blogs that write about WordPress
The Plugin Economy
The Plugin Economy features articles and interviews with developers plus an extremely useful list of WordPress sites for promoting themes and plugins.
Outreach List WP
This site provides details on websites that offer opportunities for promoting your premium WordPress products.
We all need some inspiration from time to time
Lyr WP is a curated list of WordPress themes and plugins
Tools and generators
Generate WP has dozens of generators to help you build WordPress code quickly
WP Settings API
This neat tool will produce the code you need to create your settings using the Settings API
WP Hasty offers around 10 different code generators
Frameworks and libraries
A couple of commonly used WordPress frameworks and libraries.
Open source starter theme from Automattic
TGM Plugin Activation
Currently, the definitive way to recommend or require plugins for your theme or plugin.
Insights and metrics
Once your theme or plugin is live, you’re going to need to monitor it to see how it’s being used.
Wisdom helps you gather data about how your plugin or theme is being used.
User Feedback Videos
This is a really helpful, and affordable service, by Matt Medeiros to give you video feedback on your site or a particular aspect of your site.
Easy Digital Downloads
If you’re building plugins or themes, then you’ll probably want to sell them too. Easy Digital Downloads is the way to sell digital goods online.
An extension to EDD, Software Licensing allows you to generate and validate license keys for your products
Theme Check plugin
Essential for anyone looking to submit their theme to the WP theme directory.
Query Monitor is invaluable for debugging your code
If you are selling digital products, you’ll need a theme integrated with EDD to sell them from your site
- Showcase (the theme that this site runs on)
The Matt Report podcast deals with running a WordPress business rather than issues around development or design. As such, it’s highly recommended: as developers, it’s easy to forget that we might be running a business too.
WP Watercooler is several podcasts in one – check out the site for full details
Mastermind is a podcast about running your WordPress business
Office Hours also deals with the business side of WordPress
The WP Crowd
Whereas most of the podcasts in this list are audio only, these are actually recorded video calls between developers
This podcast has actually stopped now – but there’s still 80 episodes to catch up on
Another podcast series for WordPress business owners
Here are some useful people to follow on Twitter. Some of the accounts here belong to individuals or users featured elsewhere in this article, but not all.
- Pippin Williamson
- Zac Gordon
- Daniel Pataki
- Rachel McCollin
- Thomas Griffin
- Noel Tock
- Rami Abraham
- Konstantin Obenland
- Brian Krogsgard
- Andrew Munro
- Justin Sainton
- Helen Hou-Sandi
- Ryan McCue
- Delicious Brains
- Matt Medeiros
- Eric Mann
- David Bisset
- Ahmad Awais
- Weston Ruter
- The Plugin Economy
- Brian Hogg
- Scott Bolinger
- Matt Cromwell
I hope this list has been useful. I found a lot of stuff while researching it that I didn’t know about – it just goes to show how many resources are out there for WordPress developers and designers. If you think I’ve missed anything, please let me know in the comments.
Remember: if you’re building WordPress plugins or themes, you should check out Wisdom to get real data about who is using your products and how.