Software, Development, and WordPress

Learn WordPress. It’s Easy! (Except It’s Not.)

When it comes to what it means to learn WordPress, and depending on who you talk to, you’re going to find one of two answers:

  • WordPress has a steep learning curve.
  • WordPress has a  small learning curve.

You know what’s true about both of those statements? They are both true but they are only true within the context of the implied assumptions they make. And if you’re new to WordPress and you make the wrong assumption, then you’re going to feel as if you’re at a loss.

Learn WordPress

So here’s my take on  if it’s really is easy to learn WordPress (or not).

It’s Easy To Learn WordPress

First, the phrase:

It’s easy to learn WordPress

Carries a different connotation to different people. Are you an implementer or a developer? I’d love to talk about both, but for this article, I’m sticking with the latter. I will note, however, that nothing is wrong with either.

Okay, so let’s go from there. You’re a developer of some sort.

“WordPress is Easy!”

This is not necessarily true. If you have a background in PHP, event-driven programming, Sass or general CSS, and JavaScript along with an understanding of the web application stack, then you’re likely to be fine.

Sure, there will be the usual ins-and-outs you’ll have to learn just like to have to learn with all of the previous platforms you’ve learned in previous jobs:

  • Templating
  • APIs
  • Flow of control
  • …and so on

But it’s pretty easy to the get a handle on it. Of course, you still have to learn The WordPress Way of doing things. Thank goodness for API documentation, right?

“WordPress is Not Easy!”

If this is your first foray into software development, frankly speaking, you’ve a lot to learn:

  • Databases
  • PHP
  • Front-end development
  • Some level of server administration

And then you have to learn how it all plays nicely together to form the full application, let alone the themes and plugins built on top of it. It’s a lot.

If I’m being honest, it should take years to get a handle on this. But that’s fine! What, in your life, that you truly enjoy doing wasn’t met with a learning curve or a sense of frustration?

Seriously. Give it some thought.

So don’t feel discouraged. Feel the frustration, if you want. Feel the discouragement, if you want (though I don’t think that’s totally necessarily), and then keep going.

All of those people who you see building cool stuff started off exactly where you are.

We’re All in The Same Boat

You know what’s interesting? Regardless of your level of experience, there is always something new to learn. Perhaps it’s the WP-CLI or it’s the REST API or it’s something that we’ve yet to see.

But it’s not a journey with a destination. The reward is the journey itself, and this is something that I wish people taught those getting into software development discuss on day one.

So wherever it is you are in your course of learning WordPress development, try not to get discouraged. Get excited. You’re learning something new, and there’s more to come. It’s an exciting time to be a part of WordPress, and you’re part of it.

And, above all else, we’re all feeling the usual as it relates to learning something new. We just may be experiencing different things.


  1. Scott

    Even though I fall into the implementer category, I feel inspired by your post. Love this: “But it’s not a journey with a destination. The reward is the journey itself…” Easy for me to forget when I’m learning by solving a problem.

    As an implementer, it was not hard to imagine lists like you made for developers.

    • Tom

      Thanks for the kind words, Scott. And don’t hesitate to level-up. There’s lots of great material out there for you to move into the development category, too (not that there’s anything wrong with implementers :).

  2. Ashley

    Great post! Even people with a lot of PHP and MySQL experience can have a tough time with WordPress. My husband complains about how horrible WordPress is every time he looks at it because he’s used to MVC. :P Though I guess it’s not “hard” for him – more like he’s not used to it and doesn’t like it.

    • Tom

      My husband complains about how horrible WordPress is every time he looks at it because he’s used to MVC. :P

      Thought from an MVC background can totally have their issues with it. I get it. Personally, I don’t mind the hook system event-driven model. I’ve been in it for so long at this point I’m used to it.

      It has a learning curve, sure, but once you’re in it, it’s just the nature of the beast ;P.

  3. darrinb

    I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve gotten as a WordPress developer because someone thought it would be”easy” to do since it was WordPress. Especially if that person had experience in PHP. Knowing a language is not the same as knowing a framework.

    • Tom

      I’d even argue that WordPress isn’t a framework, but that’s probably a discussion for another time.

      All that say is that the notion of something being “easy” when it’s more difficult to, you know, get started on your own can be highly misleading.

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