WordPress Stylin'

January 11, 2010

This post is for those of you that are intimidated by the idea of styling your first WordPress Blog (if there are any). I’m here to say that I’ve survived and this is the outcome.

During college the whole web development thing frustrated me and scared me enough that I vowed that I wouldn’t touch it again. And since I LOVE flash development so much, I figured that it didn’t really matter. The whole cross browser/ cross platform thing pissed me off and flash allowed me to make something and have it look AND behave the same way every time (almost). Over the past year and a half as I’ve gone more into a development centric career, I decided to give it another go and realized that it’s not so scary. After all, I’ve done a lot of things with actionscript that were way harder to code than a simple CSS/HTML site.

After warming up on some small projects and working my way through a CSS book, I got going with WordPress. There were definitely things that really confused me, but I feel like I learned a lot. The following are some of he snags I ran into that will hopefully come in handy for someone else.

Lessons Learned

There’s a difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org
Wordpress.com will allow you to have a blog that’s hosted through wordpress.com, but has limited support for styling and using plugins, but it’s free. WordPress.org is free too, but you have to have your own web space and access to a MySQL database so that you can install wordpress on your server and upload your custom theme as well as have a place to store all of your content.

Running XAMPP and installing wordpress locally is key
I’ve had XAMPP on my computer for a long time knowing that I should, but never quite understood it’s usefulness, until now. Since WordPress is run in a PHP environment, every page is a PHP file, which you can only view if it’s online or running in some other server-side environment, enter XAMPP. I’m sure that now that I understand XAMPP, I’ll be using it on many more projects in the future.

Plugins can save the day
I’m usually not a big fan of using “cheat codes” (except for using Game Genie back in the day, they let you do some awesome stuff), but when it comes to having something that will help you get your site up and running when you have limited time to do so, they will save you a ton of time. Again, you can’t upload plugins to your wordpress site, but you can upload them when wordpress is installed on your server. I’ve actually come to embrace plugins and pre-built libraries in general. As long as you have an understanding of how the wheel was made, why reinvent it?

There are a ton of much smarter people out there that can help you out with your wordpress questions. Hell, there are people out there that specialize in building wordpress themes. When I got stuck, there were a lot of resources that helped me get through. Here are a few that might help:

Before I end, I wanted to thank for Tristan Bagwandin for helping me get started with this site and provided me with some good links and answered some of my stupid questions.