WordPress Tutorial: Developing a Wordpress Theme from Scratch

You know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You can make beautiful websites. Maybe you’ve heard about WordPress, but aren’t entirely sure how to implement it, or why you might need it. Maybe a client asked for WordPress, but you’re not really familiar with it. Maybe you’ve worked with it before, but don’t know how to make your own theme from scratch. Whatever the case, this article is for you.

Prerequisites

All you need to start is a website. Any website will do. You don’t need to know any PHP, or have any prior experience with WordPress. Your website can be custom, or built on Bootstrap/some other framework.

You do need to know how to set up a local server environment. Fortunately, if you don’t know how, I wrote a short, sweet article about getting set up with one. It will only take a few minutes, so go ahead and do that first.

Goals

  • Install WordPress locally
  • Take an existing HTML website and convert it into a custom WordPress theme

Parts

I’ve made additional tutorials to add on to this one.

  • Part 2 - Pagination, Comments, Single Post, Functions, & Custom Posts (intermediate)
  • Part 3 - Custom Posts, Custom Fields and Meta Boxes (advanced)

What can WordPress do for me?

WordPress was originally built as a blogging platform, but is now what is known as a CMS - Content Management System.

Any website that you intend to make updates to can benefit from a CMS. If it’s a blog, you want to be able to add posts. If it’s a restaurant website, you want to be able to add and update menus. If it’s a company website, you want to be able to update prices, packages, and so on.

If someone is paying you to make a website, it’s because they don’t know how or don’t have time to deal with code. It needs to be as simple as possible for the client. WordPress can help with all this and more.

Getting started: The design

I can’t stress enough how much it doesn’t matter what you use for your design - Bootstrap, Foundation, Skeleton, custom CSS. The point is that you have a website and you like how it looks.

I’m going to take an existing simple starter template and convert it into WordPress for this article.

Screen Shot 2016 04 06 at 9 27 33 AM

Bootstrap Blog Template

This is one of the default themes on Bootstrap’s official website.

I have conveniently set up a GitHub repository of the code that you can pull to a local directory and follow along with me.

Don’t know how to use Git/GitHub? You can remedy that by reading my Getting Started with Git article. If you just want to get started without dealing with Git, just create a directory on your computer with index.html and blog.css and you’re ready to go.

Installing WordPress

There are plenty of articles out there about how to install WordPress. They make the process seem long and scary, and the first time you do it, it can definitely be a bit confusing. Here is the official guide to getting set up.

Since we’re using a local server and MAMP, I already know you have all the prerequisites to installation, and FTP is not necessary.

Create a place for WordPress to live

Make an empty directory on your computer somewhere, and point your localhost or virtual host to that directory.

Download WordPress

Go to the WordPress download page and download the latest version of WordPress.

Unzip WordPress

Unzip WordPress and place the contents of the folder into your directory.

Create a database

Update 2017: The latest versions of MAMP do not come with phpMyAdmin preinstalled. Instead, you’ll download SequelPro on a Mac, or SQLYog on Windows, both free programs. To enter the database after downloading, login to the host locahost (or 127.0.0.1), with username root and password root. The rest of the instructions will be the same.

Now, if you go to your local server in the browser, assuming the servers are on and everything is pointed to the right direction, you’ll get this message.

Screen Shot 2015 10 17 at 6 13 53 PM

You’ll learn to love that message. In MAMP, click Open WebStart page. Find this near the top:

Screen Shot 2015 10 17 at 6 17 42 PM

Click on phpMyAdmin. Click Databases > create database. I’m going to call mine startwordpress. That’s all you need to do in phpMyAdmin!

Screen Shot 2015 10 17 at 6 24 30 PM

Configure WordPress

Alright, final step. Find wp-config-sample.php in your directory.

It will look exactly like this.

Don’t be nervous. Change the database name, username, and password, from this:

wp-config.php

/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define('DB_NAME', 'database_name_here');
/** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', 'username_here');
/** MySQL database password */
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'password_here');

to this:

wp-config.php

/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define('DB_NAME', 'startwordpress');
/** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', 'root');
/** MySQL database password */
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'root');

Find this:

$table_prefix  = 'wp_';

And change it to literally anything else with numbers and letters. For security. xyz_ or 735hjq9_, etc.

$table_prefix  = 'xyz77_';

Go to https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/salt and replace the entire ‘put your unique phrase here’ with that generated code.

Save the file as wp-config.php in your directory.

Now, when you go back to your website and refresh, you should see this screen.

Screen Shot 2015 10 17 at 6 28 54 PM

You’ll have to input a few things - username, password, e-mail address, and then you’re done. Congratulations, you have successfully installed WordPress! You will be redirected to /wp-login.php, where you can input your credentials to log into the backend. If you go to your main URL, You will see the default WordPress blog and “Hello, World!” post.

#php #wordpress #tutorial

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Benefits of using WordPress for your website:

Since it’s starting in 2003, WordPress has been the foremost popular blogging platform within the market, and over the past few years, the platform is also getting appreciated as a content management software by non-blogging web platforms. Here are some reasons why WordPress is getting the most attention in very little time.

Search Engine Loves WordPress Sites:

WordPress is endued with a clean and easy coding behind it, by which the search engines don’t need to hustle much in reading and indexing any site’s content. Moreover, you’ll add meta tag keywords, descriptions, and titles for every page, post, and image, which can help in making precise search engine optimization.

The blog is Built-in and prepared to Go:

WordPress made its debut as a blogging platform, hence, it comes with some easy to use built-in blogging capabilities like fixing RSS / email subscriptions to your blog, commenting capability & automatically adding the foremost recent blog posts to other pages of the site are very simple while functioning on this platform.

Easy to use:

WordPress has been designed in an especially easy to use and intuitive interface. Adding blog posts, new pages, and pictures, etc regularly is simply as a piece of cake on this platform. The easiness of this platform reduces an excellent amount of your working time.

Have multiple users:

The administrator of a WordPress website also has the correct to set up multiple users for the website. Moreover, he/she also can assign different access levels and capabilities to each user.

Customizable Web Design:

Another advantage of the WordPress interface (Admin panel) is that it helps you to make any changes to the design and layout of the website, such as background image/color, display of sidebars, etc. without even using any FTP software.

No HTML Editing or FTP Software Required:

Since WordPress has its inbuilt editor, you’ll perform all the coding operations right from your website’s admin panel. No got to pay money for or use any external editing software like Dreamweaver or Notepad++. WordPress editor features a very friendly user-interface where you won’t even need to edit the code for performing various tasks.

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