WordPress Development Roadmap: A Guide to WordPress

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Publish date:

August 23, 2022

Updated on:

March 12, 2024

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WordPress Development Roadmap: A Guide to WordPress


WordPress, the most used website content management system, has continued to grow since its inception in 2003. Being a WordPress developer means no shortage of work today. Agencies and companies are in constant search for talents to build out entire products on the CMS.

Not only has the open source software simplified web development, but it has also built a solid developer community that continues to aid its usage and improvement. This article will provide a WordPress development roadmap that can guide you from a complete beginner with no experience to a veteran WordPress developer creating complex websites with ease.

At the end of this article, you should know:

What Is WordPress?

Every WordPress developer will come across this page for their business or learning purposes.

WordPress is a content management system built on PHP. A content management system helps simplify website content management, i.e., images, videos, text, and documents. It provides a ready-made system that anyone can simply adopt without coding.

Joomla, Drupal, Wix, Shopify, and Magento are some of the many content management systems, but WordPress is the most powerful and widely used. This WordPress development roadmap will analyze all the technologies WordPress supports.

Who Is a WordPress Developer?

Since WordPress is open-source, anyone who understands the building blocks with which it was built can modify or extend its functionality. Developers modify and extend WordPress by writing custom code.

WordPress was built to be easy for non-technical users and developers to become full-fledged WordPress developers. The downside is that you need to know all the basics of the web and master the technologies used in creating it.

Essential Prerequisites for WordPress Development

Every developer must be proficient in a couple of technologies before starting the WordPress development roadmap. These sets of web technologies are the building blocks with which the entire web is built. It's compulsory to understand them to an intermediate level before specializing, irrespective of the kind of WordPress developer you want to become.

They include the following:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JS

HTML - Hypertext Markup Language

HTML is the official markup language for the web. It's used to structure content on a page and helps readers and search engines better understand each part of a page.

This is the first web technology to learn in the WordPress development roadmap. On average, it takes 2 - 4 weeks to understand and get used to HTML and all its basic tags and structures.

CSS - Cascading Stylesheet

CSS is to HTML what paint is to walls; it adds color and depth and helps with positioning. After learning HTML, CSS is generally accepted as the next learning technology because they work well together. It's not enough to simply structure a page with HTML. You must also add some styling (colors, spacing, and other UI/UX related-concepts).

That's where CSS comes in; it's responsible for styling pages built with HTML. Both of these technologies are heavily required when building WordPress themes and plugins as they control every aspect of a page.

JS - Javascript

JavaScript is a programming language that makes web pages interactive and is one of the most used today. Just like HTML and CSS, it's a core prerequisite for WordPress development. It allows web pages to respond to events and change their appearance accordingly (i.e., click of a button triggering the submission of a form).

It can also be used for form validation, animation, and playing of video or audio files on a webpage.

CSS Frameworks (Optional)

After having a good idea of how these basic web technologies work, you could go directly into learning WordPress-specific technologies or solidify your existing skills by learning a CSS framework.

CSS frameworks provide an easy-to-follow way to build expert web pages, even for beginners. Building professional websites requires experience, and for someone just getting started, a framework provides all the tools and templates to ensure you can't fail.

Some popular CSS frameworks are Bootstrap, ReactJS, Angular, and others. It should be relatively easy to learn if you already have experience with CSS and Javascript.

Another important reason CSS frameworks are so important is when it comes to building WordPress themes. Imagine having to code every piece of functionality from scratch every time you have a new project. Tough, right?

With a CSS framework, reusing existing code from old projects is integrated into their core design. Think components.

For example, moving a Bootstrap section from an existing project to a new one is more straightforward than moving it from a project without a framework. This will save you time and effort when you have many projects to complete in the long run.

WordPress Development Backend

Black screen with code appearing throughout. In a WordPress development process, your backend (or admin area) allows users reconfigure their profile.

This is where the actual WordPress development roadmap starts to get exciting and more advanced. Everything you know up to this point should be enough to build static and interactive websites with no backend (Think User Login, Databases, or saved data).

WordPress was built with PHP and used MYSQL as its database architecture of choice. Those are the next two technologies required for progress on your journey to becoming a full-fledged WordPress developer. But before going into the coding aspect, take your time to experience what WordPress offers without coding.

There are a lot of remarkable websites you can build with WordPress with just basic frontend web technologies like HTML/CSS/JS and existing page builder plugins like Elementor. In fact, many people make entire careers for themselves by being WordPress experts with no backend skills. With that said, here's a breakdown of the technologies needed to be able to work with the backend of WordPress.

PHP - Hypertext Preprocessor

PHP is a server-side scripting language developers use to display the content of WordPress on the browser. It's one of the most-used programming languages today and can be used for different purposes.

PHP stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, and it was first released in 1995. It was created by Rasmus Lerdorf, who wanted to create a web scripting language that would be simple but powerful enough for web development. You'll find yourself using more PHP than any other web technology as a WordPress developer.

Want to develop a custom WordPress plugin? PHP. Need to Modify an existing WordPress theme? PHP.

With PHP, WordPress enables developers to easily extend and modify core behaviors by providing features like Hooks, Methods, and Functions. On their Developer Resources Page, WordPress provides a strict PHP coding standard to ensure all developers are on the same page.

MYSQL - Structured Query Language

What is a content management system without a database? Mirrors. Why? Because when you look into a mirror, you see your reflection crystal clear with no way to store it.

Back in 2003, the most popular database paired with PHP was MYSQL, so it's no surprise why WordPress chose to adopt it as well. MySQL is a relational database management system that is used in WordPress development. It stores data and makes it available to other applications.

MySQL allows web developers to create databases and tables, insert data, update data, delete data, and use different SQL commands to manage the database. WordPress, a content management system, relies on MYSQL to store data. These data, like usernames, passwords, settings, and site-specific configurations, are all handled by MYSQL.

As a WordPress developer, having a core understanding of how the technology works unlock many possibilities, especially when creating custom plugins. Both PHP and MYSQL work hand-in-hand, and by having them under your belt, you're already worlds apart from an average WordPress developer to an expert.

Setting WordPress Dev Environment

Every WordPress website must undergo development in a local or private environment before it goes live. At this point in the WordPress development roadmap, you should be able to combine all prerequisites with WordPress-specific technologies to create custom themes and plugins.

When building WordPress projects, simply installing WordPress on a live host is, in most cases, not an efficient route. Most servers are configured for when WordPress projects are ready to go live.

A development environment provides many tools to test-run features, debug, optimize and speed up the development process. There are a lot of traditional local development environment tools like XAMPP and MAMP, but a community favorite for the past few years has been Local By FlyWheel. These tools are generally easy to learn and use.

What's Next?

At this juncture, you can call yourself a junior or mid-level WordPress developer, depending on how much experience you have. The more projects you complete, the better you will be at WordPress development.

There are several routes a WordPress development skill can take you at this level. You could get a job, promote your business blog if you're a business owner, or get promoted at work.

WordPress Development Roadmap FAQs:

Q1. How do I create a roadmap in WordPress?

Install the plugin from the WordPress repository on your site and activate it. Go to Plugins on your WordPress dashboard, click Add New and use the search bar to find the roadmap. Once you find it, you'd be installing the latest plugin version.

Creating roadmaps in WordPress becomes completely simple with plugins like WP Roadmap. The plugin supports page builders like Elementor and has a shortcode feature in case you want to integrate your roadmap with other WordPress plugins.

Q2. Is Shopify better than WordPress?

WordPress is far better in the long term than Shopify as it allows a website to grow consistently with an easy way to add additional functionality.

Shopify offers a better experience for its users compared to WordPress when it comes to e-commerce. WordPress depends on complicated third-party plugins like Woocommerce to set up. But in general, WordPress offers better flexibility and control.

Shopify is primarily an e-commerce solution which means using it for anything other than a store exposes just how limited the solution is. WordPress, on the other hand, can be used for anything, with e-commerce being one of its quirks.

Q3. Is WordPress losing market share?

Yes, a bit, but it's still dominant. There was a 0.4% decline earlier in 2022, but it still holds 42.9% of the market share. Compared to Shopify, which has 4.2%, and Joomla with 1.6%. Over 34 million websites are powered by WordPress, which represents 46% of the entire web. While WordPress may need to be more innovative as Wix and Squarespace are fast-growing, it's still dominating in market share.


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Peace Akinwale

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I'm Peace Akinwale, a freelance B2B writer specializing in SaaS. With over 5 years of experience and a HubSpot Academy certification, I excel in crafting engaging SEO content that drives results for your business.

I have worked with diverse clients like Pangea.ai, HackerNoon, FanDuel, and Bays Planet Foundation. The experience has improved my understanding of search intent, research, data-led and journalism-rich content. This ability allows me to write compelling pieces that provide practical value to readers and improve your company's visibility on SERPs.

Currently focused on martech, my writing experience spans various industries, including tech, software, finance, lifestyle, and more. I'm adaptable and can tackle any subject matter in SaaS, bringing a fresh perspective to your content strategy.

As a content marketer, I have a proven track record of success, such as contributing to a 40% increase in website traffic within four months and helping my previous agency grow its client base by 40% through referrals from satisfied clients.

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