Don’t be a hero,
Don’t be a fool with your life.
Frankly, for your own sanity you’ll do well to consider WordPress a monster; a menacing dragon; a veritable beast. It will unapologetically swallow you and your belovéd project whole if you let it. But only if you let it.
Make no mistake, though, there’s no battle between moral good and vile evil here, rather its just empirically true that as a piece of software and as a means to myriad people’s ends, WordPress does way too much. It fulfills or at least sets out to fulfill way too many things all at once. As a consumer, this is the biblical manna: all-satiating. As a WordPress theme designer, its a total pain!
Fear not, though, it can be wrestled into submission. This dragon, it absolutely can be tamed so I say:
don’t tread lightly or fearfully, fellow soldier. I beseech you to march onward and forward and fearlessly for the beast, I promise you this, it can be slain!
For you, the theme maker (designer and developer), the best way to wrangle the beast that is WordPress into any semblance of submission is to understand its various bits and pieces in small, digestible chunks, in your own time and at your own pace.
As a theme maker, approach it not, I warn, as just another blogging platform or just another CMS. Its grand. Grander, I’d argue—whether for better or for worse—than other more focused solutions.
Thankfully, like dragons of yore, you can wrangle it into submission; effectively tame it. Once you’ve built up your confidence and have been at it steadily for a while, you can even pretend to attempt to slay it.
Luckily, slaying the beast is not our goal here. Our goal is to get to know the beast. Our goal, ostensibly, is to tame the beast that is WordPress. To make it do our bidding and fast!
The key to “winning” at WordPress is to understand its enormity, respect its power and to gradually work your way into and through it. Never to dominate it. The key, in sum, is to navigate the inarguably treacherous waters that are WordPress with patience and in due time you’ll find yourself home safe and sound (and more knowledgeable, of course.)
From a business point of view i.e., as a professional theme maker, you must absolutely resolve NEVER to have any interest in learning all there is to know about WordPress. Your interest should forever lie in keeping up to date on the ways in which you can solve problems (for clients or for yourself) with WordPress (in the least amount of time). A means to an end.
Simplify, standardize and distill
After a few years (or even months) of making WordPress themes professionally, you start to realize that a lot of the functionality can be standardized or distilled down into something simpler. A starter theme, perhaps or a theme developer kit. That usually gets things started and moving along quickly.
Before that though, you notice that a lot of functionality, nuanced behavior, etc can be easily defined by functions in the functions.php. These arguably simple core functions and other user-defined ones help get the development process started and moving along apace. If you’re in the money-in-exchange-for-theme-design/development business, you know that time is of the utmost importance. Trimming your work-time in half could very well double your bottom line!
That’s what this guide is about:
Nailing down WordPress functions, features & filters that are integral to every commercial WordPress themes.
The idea is that by making yourself relatively familiar with these significant functions, you can speed up your theme development process.