How to become a WordPress wizard

My short, facetious answer: read my book!

More seriously, these are the steps I would recommend:

  1. Learn how themes work. The Themeshaper tutorial is an excellent place to start. Then learn how child themes work.
  2. Get really comfortable with conditional tags and the template hierarchy. I still refer to these Codex pages about once a week; they’re that essential (and complicated).
  3. Learn how WP_Query works, why query_posts() is bad, and how to properly modify a loop or add a secondary loop.
  4. Learn how hooks (actions and filters) work.
  5. Learn to build custom taxonomies and custom post types. You’ll pick up the basics of plugin development along the way.
  6. Learn the options and settings APIs and data validation (that is, writing secure plugins and themes).
  7. Tackle the rest of this list as needed.

Only seven steps! Not so bad.

This is an excerpt from Content Strategy for WordPress.My latest books are Content Strategy for WordPress (2015) and WordPress for Web Developers (2013). Sign up to be notified when I have a new book for you.


  1. says

    Great list. I’d also add “learn to how to search and read source code in general”. Being able to move on from immediately Googling a problem to instead diving into the source code you’re working with (WordPress core, a theme, a plugin, etc.) and figuring out what’s going on will be hugely impactful on your speed and capabilities.

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