Recently, I received an email from a fellow developer who had finished reading a number of series of articles on WordPress, who had watched a number of WordPress tutorial videos, and was working towards mastering WordPress.

He went on to discuss his current skill set, his aspirations, and the type of projects he eventually wanted to take on as his career progressed.

Not bad, right?

Here, you’ve got a person that knows who he is, knows where he wants to be, and is looking for advice on how to get there.

Unfortunately, there was only so much advice I could give (I’d love to master WordPress, as well!), but the bottom is line I responded with a series of things that i think he – or anyone – can do in order to become a better WordPress developer.

Mastering WordPress

Here’s the thing: I applaud anyone and everyone who wants to work on mastering anything, let alone WordPress. I think it’s admirable, respectable, and something that all people who get to work in a field that they love should do.

Perhaps that sounds a bit idealistic, but I don’t think that’s here or there – people need to be good at what they do.

As much as I wish I could offer more positive advice, there’s only a handful of things that I can offer up.

Jedi Master Yoda

This seems a bit obligatory, doesn’t it?

Strictly speaking, I can only provide suggestions on how to become a better developer based on the experiences that I’ve had.

  • Know – and accept – that it’s going to take years. Yes, some learn faster than others, so it make take some a few more years than others.
  • Read blogs – both technical and non-technical – from people who are significant in the WordPress community. I always offer this up as a way for people to stay updated as to what’s going on with the platform and with the people involved in the economy.
  • Understand that plugins and themes differ significantly. Plugins are for functionality, themes are for presentation.
  • Work on small projects or small pieces of your projects first, then work on to scaling up to larger projects.

Ultimately, I believe that aside from forcing yourself to tackle challenging problems, reading and viewing tutorials will only take you so far.

You can learn a lot from them, sure, but until you’re faced with having to a solve an unforeseen problem, then there’s only so much learning that consuming information will provide you.

I can read four manuals on how to build a disassemble an automobile transmission, but until I’ve actually gotten the grease on my hands, I’ve no idea if I can really tackle the problem.

Anything Else?

As I said earlier in the post:

I can only provide suggestions on how to become a better developer based on the experiences that I’ve had.

And, yes, there’s some overlap in the experiences that we’ve had, but I know that my experiences are not generic – they’re specific to many of the projects I’ve worked on or had to take on.

So to that end, if you had two three things to add to the list above, what would they be? And if you have a moment, please take time to share ’em in the comments. I’d love to have a point of reference for future questions such as this.