The Languages You Should Learn To Do More with Your WordPress Site

Your ability to create top-notch websites, which is apparently every web developer’s most-cherished goal, won’t just happen by being able to imagine it. Knowledge is always behind every new level of creativity, regardless of how small. In other words, you must learn more before you can do more with your WordPress site.

Programming is an essential aspect of website development, but the general idea about WordPress is that no coding could be required to create and manage websites.

And of course, a reasonable number of the 650+ WordPress sites launched daily are built by individuals with very little or no knowledge of programming. Thanks to the introduction of WordPress plugins and themes in 2004.

However, to get the most out of website development with WordPress, you need to learn several programming languages aside from being clear on the area of development you want to focus on. Whether you plan to focus on WordPress core, themes, plugins, etc., there’s a grave need to understand the basic framework of WordPress. And the following languages are exactly what you must understand to do more with your website.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML)

HTML is the standard markup language for designing web browser documents. It is the building block of all website content and the framework that hosts all other web programming languages. You would find it difficult to interact with web browsers, which is the act of web designing without understanding HTML.

html

Known as a markup or declarative language (not a programming language), HTML describes the various parts of a webpage to the web browser using its tags which is the standard for viewing webpages. Web browsers read the HTML to identify headings, links, paragraphs, etc. of a website. Here’s an example.

  1. <!DOCTYPE html>
  2. <html>
  3. <head>
  4. <title> My Website Title</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <img scr=”welcome.jpeg”/>
  8. <h1>Introduction to My Page</h1>
  9. <p class=”first-p”>You are welcome to my very first…</p>
  10. </body>
  11. </html>

You will notice that most elements in the example above are encapsulated by HTML tags: the letters inside comparison (less-than and greater-than) signs. The website title, which appears on the browsers title bar, is encapsulated by the <title></title> tag, the same syntax border the website heading, etc.

The <img/> tag is hosting a space for an image referenced with scr, which its file name and type is “welcome” and “.jpeg” respectively. The <h1> tag is a header tag normally used to signify the title of your content inside the page. Letter “p” in the <p> tag stands for paragraph. You will also notice that the <p></p> tag and <h1></h1> have class names, site-title and first-p respectively. These names will enable us to reference the HTML elements if we need to style them using CSS.

As you can see from the example above, HTML gives you a good understanding of your entire website structure. You can add new WordPress widgets using the custom HTML menu in WordPress widget page, and also edit the HTML of available widgets to suit your preferred design.

WordPress has two editors: a text (HTML) and a visual editor, and users can switch between the two at ease. The text or HTML editor allows you to incorporate font-style easily or format your content if you are familiar with HTML, but most importantly, you need the HTML editor to codes from an outside source. This includes embedding stuff like a YouTube video or a Tweet in your post.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

CSS is another declarative language vital in web programming. As the name suggests, the cascading style sheet indicates how the HTML content would appear in the browser. Hence it’s used in styling a WordPress page content. All WordPress themes have a styles.css file that controls the attributes of the web content as associated with the theme, and the file must be understood before anyone can change their website attributes.

css

Using CSS, you can animate nearly all HTML elements on your WordPress site or beautify their appearances by simply referencing them and stating the effects or properties. CSS allows you to set all kinds of attributes such as fonts, font-family, padding, letter-spacing, etc. of your <h1> tag, <body> tag, <p> tag, etc. For instance, we can give attributes to the class of “site-title” in our HTML example code to something like the following:

  1. .site-title {
  2. font-size: 24px;
  3. font-family: Georgia;
  4. text-align: center;
  5. color: green;
  6. letter-spacing: 0.08em;
  7. margin: 0;
  8. padding: 0;
  9. text-transform: uppercase;
  10. }

Knowledge of CSS is very important to anyone that’s aspiring to become a WordPress expert. Whether you are planning to be building themes by yourself or choose from the existing themes, there’s no way around managing your content attributes in a collective form without CSS. Basic knowledge of the syntax would let you edit WordPress site content attributes, but more understanding would let you add new features and to manage complex element properties.

JavaScript (JS)

Developing web applications and making your WordPress pages more dynamic and interactive are best performed with JavaScript, which is a high-level, object-oriented language. JavaScript is used in programming the behavior of HTML, including website responses to user actions such as making texts bigger or appear with different colors on clicks or mouse-over.

JavaScript is a front-end (client-side) programming language. It communicates directly with the users’ browser, and that makes it run much faster than server-side programming languages like PHP, which is also essential in WordPress.

Though a WordPress theme could work without JavaScript, it’s rare to find top-notch WordPress sites not integrated with JS. This is because JavaScript is a robust programming language you can use to build large scale web applications easily.

JavaScript file is usually saved separately in your website folder with .js extension and referenced in the HTML document or written inside your HTML document; encapsulated in <script></script> tag, as shown in the example below.

  1. <!DOCTYPE html>
  2. <html>
  3. <body>
  4. <h2>This will show how to insert JavaScript inHTML body tag</h2>
  5. <p id=”example”>I have another paragraph here.</p>
  6. <button type=”button”onclick=”changeTxt()”>Show Me</button>
  7. <button type=”button”onclick=”changeTxt2()”>Reset</button>
  8. <script>
  9. functionchangeTxt() {
  10. getElementById(“example”).innerHTML = “Here is the new paragraph.”;
  11. }
  12. functionchangeTxt2() {
  13. getElementById(“example”).innerHTML = “I have another paragraph here.”;
  14. }
  15. </script>
  16. </body>
  17. </html>

 

If you plan to build themes or plugins, it would be difficult to imagine without JavaScript. It’s also very important in WordPress core. For instance, the WordPress admin panel of calypso release is entirely powered by JavaScript.

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)

PHP is not only the backbone of WordPress. It is used in nearly 80 percent of all websites out there. If you must do more with your WordPress site, then you must include PHP in the list of programming languages to learn. This is because WordPress itself is written in PHP language – a powerful server-side programming language for making dynamic and interactive web pages.

php

It is advisable to first learn HTML, CSS, and JavaScript before starting to learn PHP. This is just to make the learning process easier. But that doesn’t mean you cannot start with PHP if you think it’s the best option for you. PHP is simply the essential programming language you must learn to do a lot of things with WordPress.

PHP files are saved using .php extension and the file can also include plain text, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code as shown in the example below. However, PHP code appear as plain HTML after they are executed on the server side.

  1. <?php
  2. $banner = “PHP is important”;  //variable declaration
  3. $footer = “All Rights Reserved”;
  4. $x = 5;
  5. $y = $x + 6;
  6. echo $banner “to do more with WordPress;  //user screen will show “PHP is important to do more with WordPress
  7. <p>This is an HTML element.</p>  //featuring HTML element
  8. if( $y > $x ) {
  9. echo $y .”will always be greater than “. $x;  //user screen will show “11 will always be greater than 5”
  10. }
  11. ?>

PHP is quite easy to learn as a beginner and quite essential to every web developer as from its extensive use in WordPress. PHP knowledge would give you the ability to add and modify data in any WordPress database, control user-access, collect form data, and generate the dynamic page content. With PHP knowledge, you should be able to manipulate files of all kinds on your WordPress server and as well as encrypt data.

Conclusion

WordPress and other content management systems may have solved a vital challenge content publishing by offering a platform that doesn’t necessarily need you to write codes. But that’s with limited abilities. Understanding the basic framework of WordPress, which includes HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP, is the only way to do more with your WordPress site.

HTML is basically your website’s skeleton. CSS helps you manage the styling of your website content. JavaScript helps you to deliver fast animation and dynamic WordPress sites as a client-based (front end) programming language, while PHP, which helps you to deliver content stored in your database, serves as the server-based programming language which WordPress is written in.