What is a WordPress Developer?

A WordPress developer is a professional skilled in the design, development, and management of WordPress websites. They work on the WordPress back-end and front-end and specialize in plugin and theme development apart from having sound WordPress troubleshooting, optimization, and security management skills.

What is WordPress Developer?

Is the idea of working as a WordPress developer appealing to you? WordPress, after all, runs more than 40% of all websites on the internet. It's no surprise that WordPress development is a sought-after software expertise, and WordPress developers have a promising future ahead of them.

In this article, I'll go over the basics of what a WordPress developer does, the abilities that are required, and how you may get started as a WordPress developer.

Sounds good? Let’s start.

A WordPress developer is a professional skilled in the design, development, and management of WordPress websites. They work on the WordPress back-end and front-end and specialize in plugin and theme development apart from having sound WordPress troubleshooting, optimization, and security management skills.

In short, they need to wear multiple hats at once. But a WordPress developer is required to not just build plugins or themes or modify the existing ones. They also need to ensure compatibility with the existing WordPress plugins and deep dive into the WordPress core and the MySQL database.

WordPress web design is another related skill set. It is a lucrative vocation that requires less technical knowledge than WordPress development. Apart from ensuring a seamless experience for website users, your main responsibility as a designer is to create WordPress websites with an emphasis on aesthetics or appearance.

Is WordPress Developer a good career option

WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) on the web and there are hundreds of WordPress development jobs available today ranging from theme and plugin development to technical support and everything in between.

So, as far as demand for your skills is concerned, there will be no shortage of opportunities once you dive headlong into the exciting world of WordPress development.

You'll begin as a WordPress developer, and after attaining the necessary expertise, you'll advance to the position of Senior Developer, with the possibility of eventually leading a development team as a Project Manager.

In order to supplement your primary source of income, you can also pick up freelancing gigs that include minor development tasks, troubleshooting, or optimization work on WordPress websites.

Many WordPress developers start off with a regular job and on building up a reliable client network, switch to full-time freelancing as this allows them more flexibility and location independence coupled with higher earning potential.

How to Become a WordPress Developer

In order to become a WordPress developer, you need to develop certain skills. The most important ones are:

  • HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language): HTML is the standard language used by browsers to display information on the screen and you should possess sound knowledge of how HTML works. Fortunately, HTML is very easy to learn and you can hone your HTML skills in a few day’s time.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): CSS transmits the style information to the web browser and is responsible for the appearance of web pages. Just like HTML, CSS is fairly uncomplicated and you can learn it within a month’s time. Both CSS and HTML work on the front-end.
  • JS (JavaScript): JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages available presently. It modifies the HTML to create dynamic content, images, and media. JavaScript includes many libraries. You can focus on mastering React which is used in the development of the
  • WordPress block editor. JS works on the front-end and back-end of a WordPress website.
  • PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor): PHP is the heart and soul of WordPress. It works at the server level on the back-end. The WordPress core, themes, and plugins are written in the PHP programming language. Because of this, being an excellent PHP programmer will help your career as a WordPress developer immensely.

Apart from the aforementioned abilities, you should also master SQL database management because WordPress uses MySQL tables to store all website data.

However, you are not required to become an expert coder right away. You can begin by learning HTML and CSS, which will assist you in creating a simple static website.

You can also practice your coding abilities by downloading free virtual development tools like XAMP or WAMP. Local WP, a free solution from Flywheel Hosting, allows you to deploy and test your WordPress websites in a local development environment.
Where to apply for WordPress Developer jobs?

So, now that you've mastered the necessary skills, it's time to embark on your WordPress development adventure. Now is the time to create your LinkedIn profile if you haven't already done it. On Linkedin, several companies are recruiting WordPress developers. There are other job sites as well where you can publish your resume and apply for jobs that match your qualifications.

You can also work as a freelancer on sites such as Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr, where hundreds of WordPress development tasks are posted daily. Freelancing jobs are a great place to start if you want to build up experience as a developer.

Follow these tips to get off to a flying start as a WordPress freelancer:

  • Create multiple gigs on different WordPress topics on Fiverr and promote them on Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Create a specialized WordPress profile on sites like Upwork and Freelancer and apply for relevant projects every day.
  • Price your services lower than the competition initially and gradually hike your rates once you have collected some positive reviews for your services.
  • Analyze which services have greater demand and concentrate more on those to become an expert in your chosen WordPress niche.
  • Create a personal portfolio site on free blogging platforms like WordPress.com or Blogger.com to showcase your work to interested clients.

What WordPress Developers should know

By now, you’ve grasped the full scope of WordPress development. But there are certain things that any WordPress developer should know beforehand in order to avoid costly mistakes later on.

Understand the WordPress database

The WordPress database contains all the information required by WordPress, the installed themes, and plugins. This information is stored in different tables. Presently, there are 12 default WordPress database tables. As a WordPress developer, you should understand the nitty gritty of these core WordPress tables to be able to troubleshoot issues quickly.

Don’t mess with the WordPress core

The WordPress core contains the primary files used by WordPress. If you tinker with these core files, the customizations will be lost in the next WordPress update in which the core files get overwritten. This could also result in security vulnerabilities and malicious code injection. So, understand the intricacies of the WordPress core files but don’t attempt to modify how they work.

Learn to Enqueue scripts and styles

Enqueuing scripts and CSS is at the core of WordPress plugin and theme development. When you first learn JavaScript programming, you simply insert the code snippet between the body tags or in the header or footer area. But adding multiple lines of code to every page increases the script bloat and makes web pages load at snail speed. The right way of calling scripts is by enqueuing the script using the wp_enqueue_script function so that the script is not loaded on every page and is referenced only when required.

Know the different WordPress feeds

You might be thinking what’s the big deal about feeds. The big deal is that there are multiple WordPress feeds you can offer to your users during website development. For instance, there is the comments feed (site.com/comments/feed) or the author feed (site.com/author/authorname/feed). Your clients can use these feed options as per their specific needs.

Optimize your database regularly

The WordPress database accumulates all sorts of needed and unneeded information over time and can eat up valuable hosting storage if left to its free will. This includes database tables leftover by deleted plugins that are simply gathering dust. In order to keep websites running smoothly on the front-end and the back-end, you should regularly optimize the database by cleaning up the transients, leftover tables, deleting post revisions, trashed posts, spam comments, etc.

Brevity is the key in WordPress design

There are so many options to choose from when you start designing a WordPress website that it’s quite easy to go overboard with styles and effects that may not really be needed. But overstyling can also make a website appear gaudy when you should be actually focussing on user experience (UX) and functionality. That’s why the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid) works like magic in WordPress design and development.


WordPress development is an exciting career for budding programmers. The demand for your development skills is linked to the increasing adoption of WordPress as the CMS of choice for thousands of websites that are launched every day. Once you’ve mastered the required languages used in WordPress development and gained some web design experience, your career as a WordPress developer will take off in quick time.

Additionally, WordPress freelancing presents limitless possibilities for those skilled in WordPress design and development. Freelancing offers location freedom and flexible working hours and is a preferred alternative to a regular 9 to 5 job for many WordPress developers. Take your pick.

About Author

Robin Thebe

Digital Strategist based in Sydney.

I am multi disciplined web developer based in Sydney focusing around WordPress web design, wordpress development, SEO, SEM and Email Marketing.