Top WordPress Developer
Looking to be the very best WordPress developer? Well, if you think it is easy, you would be very wrong! It takes hard work and amazing amounts of dedication and determination – sleepless nights, long days, and amazing amounts of energy. If you aren't prepared for this, you will definitely fall very short of your goal of top developer. Statistics say that the odds are not in your favor when it comes to being the very best: there are a ridiculous number of developers you are competing against.
And what about the posers? You know, those people who publish a few tutorials and know how to customize a theme or two and call themselves a “top developer.” This is just plain false: maybe they're some form of expert, but they're far from being a top developer.
A top WordPress developer, as defined by Smashing Magazine, “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.”
Reasons To Be A Top WordPress Developer
The real question is why wouldn't you want to be a top developer? Besides bragging rights and being far superior to the other average developers, here are some reasons:
- More Money. As clients are looking for the very best WordPress developers to work with them, demand is quite high. What's more, these clients know that the best is hard to come by, and as such are willing to pay a premium to secure their services.
- Better Clients. With all of these new clients clamoring for your attention, you have the choice to accept the jobs that excite you, and turn down the jobs that don't. You can afford to be picky!
- More Influence. Looking to contribute to the future of WordPress? Have some ideas you want to be heard? If you are a top developer, it's more likely WordPress will listen!
Those are some pretty fantastic reasons to push yourself to be the best WordPress developer!
How To Get There
One important way to earn the title of the very best: education! Read anything you can for a minimum of an hour each and every workday. You must strive to master WordPress, and the only way to do this is to absorb all of the information you can on the subject. No more video games, no more TV. Spend this time reading, and you'll see how this level of dedication and commitment will push you closer and closer to the top spot! No IM programs. No cell phone. No distractions. Just reading, taking notes along the way. When you see the results, you might want to read more. Do it! Up your hour of reading to two or three, a few times a week. This commitment will produce results, guaranteed!
Another great resource for those interested in mastering WordPress: the Internet. Search for WordPress courses, webinars, and subscribe to WordPress tutorials offered by various YouTube subscribers. The more you learn, the better you'll become.
The Social Atmosphere
It is said that we reflect the qualities of those we hang out with. If that's the case, start following the top WordPress developers on Twitter, subscribe to their RSS feeds, and interact with them online. Watch for a WordCamp near you, a place where developers and users meet to discuss ideas and talk WordPress.
Take To The Internet
Have you noticed how much information is available on the Internet regarding WordPress? It can be a bit overwhelming. However, if you search, you'll find some high quality material to focus on. Here are a few excellent resources you can turn to:
- WordPress Codex. This is a place a community of people come to talk all things WordPress. Anything contained here is edited by the community, so it is reliable. Go from the basics on the WordPress interface to more advanced topics; learn about theme design; see how to develop plugins; learn WordPress semantics; and more.
- Books. There are plenty of books devoted to WordPress. Start with the basics and work your way up until you've read them all. No matter how basic you think a book is, remember that your future clients may have read these books, such as “WordPress for Dummies,” and you want to know what they've learned.
- WordPress Blogs. Subscribe to the RSS feeds of the very best blogs devoted to the topics of WordPress, commenting often. Some good places to start: WP Tuts+, WordPress on Smashing Magazine, and WP Candy.
Learn The Technology
This is probably the most important part. You might already be a programmer, so you know all about PHP/MySQL. Don't forget to keep this knowledge up-to-date, as things can change quickly. If you know nothing of programming, get to work learning all you can. Learn PHP and MySQL on sites like Lynda.com or Learnable.com. Browse the WordPress codebase on Trac and Xref, gaining an understanding of how it all works. Also, a great way to understand the technology is to follow discussions being held on make.wordpress.org.
Now that you've learned about the technology, put this knowledge to work by applying it on your own WordPress website. Get to know WordPress APIs and play around with them a bit, and look for tutorials that can break down each API and what it does. Learn about using Ajax in WordPress, and then use it!
Finally, get to know the list of classes that WordPress developers created. Mess around with them and get to know them well. Important classes to note: WP_Query; WP_Theme; and wpdb. Find tutorials regarding these classes and others, like WPAlchemy.
The more you practice, the more experience you get. It will take a lot of your time and patience, but it is worth it in the end. Knowledge and experience attracts clients! Smashing Magazine points out that it takes thousands of clients to give you the experience you need to be the best.
- Develop a theme. Whether paid or free, build a theme and take all feedback into consideration. Ask other designers to offer feedback as well. Continually update your theme until it makes you and users happy.
- Develop a plugin. There will come a time you will come across the need for a plugin where one does not exist. Create that plugin, release it, and respond to customer feedback.
- Patches. Learn how to submit a patch in the Core Contributor handbook. This is a wonderful experience for you as a developer, and doing it successfully pushes you higher towards that top developer spot.
- Debugging master. Great developers release bug-free code. Whether you debug yourself or rely on plugins such as Debug Bar, Core Control, or Log Deprecated Notices, it is a very important piece to the top developer puzzle.
- Be vocal in the WordPress community. How will anyone call you a top developer if they haven't a clue who you are? Get to know the WordPress community and contribute to it often.
- Write tutorials. When you learn how to do something, write a quick tutorial for others to learn from.
- Codex contributions. If you come across something that could be improved upon in the Codex, look into becoming a volunteer.
- Answer questions in the forums. Beginners will ask plenty of questions there, so be available to them for assistance.
If you follow these steps (which will take a ton of time, by the way – no one becomes top developer overnight), you are on your way to being a top WordPress developer.
Photo courtesy of creativedc via Flickr Creative Commons