Become a WordPress Expert: 12 Critical Skills To Learn

What does it take to become a WordPress expert? 🧑‍🎤

I hear this question a lot from people new to WordPress. They’re worried about the learning curve. They don’t know where to start or on what aspect to focus. 

This blog answers these questions by sharing some of the top 12 critical skills you need to learn to become a WordPress expert.

I’ve also included links to LinkedIn Learning courses.  These courses are high-quality, with very high reviews and excellent feedback.

To become a WordPress expert, you should focus on developing the following skills:

1. PHP

WordPress runs on the PHP language, so it is essential to understand this programming language to customise and extend a WordPress site’s functionality.

Even with the roll-out of the new WordPress Full Site Editing capability, WordPress themes still use PHP. 

I come across bespoke project requirements when I need to pump out some functionality written in PHP.

One of the powerful features of WordPress is being able to extend the core functionality.  Developers place PHP code snippets in the theme’s functions.php file or a code snippets plugin.

Learning Resource: 

2. HTML and CSS

There are a few reasons why it is essential to learn HTML and CSS on your journey to becoming a WordPress expert.

First, HTML is the foundation of all web pages. Without HTML, there would be no web pages.  You need to understand the syntax of HTML.

CSS applies styles to web pages. It is responsible for the look and feel of a web page.  There is no hiding from CSS; you’ll embarrass yourself very quickly in front of a client if you’re not fluent in CSS.

Learning Resource: and 

3. JavaScript

JavaScript is used to add interactivity to web pages. Without JavaScript, web pages would be static and boring.

The WordPress project is heavily investing in JavaScript.  The new block editor is primarily a large JavaScipt REACT app.

JavaScript can be both client-side and server-side.

WordPress will rely more on JavaScript in the future, so definitely one to put on your checklist.

Learning Resource: 

4. WordPress

To become a WordPress expert, you must deeply understand the platform, its components and its underlying codebase.

That includes the following elements:

  • The WordPress Core: The core codebase.
  • Themes: Displaying site content.
  • Plugins: Extending WordPress core functionality.
  • Database: WordPress stores most of its content in a database.
  • The WordPress REST API: Pushing and pulling data internally and from external sources.
  • Custom Post Types and Taxonomies: Create custom content types and categorise them in new ways.
  • WordPress Template Hierarchy: The sequence and logic where theme template files are applied.
  • Database Schema: Where data is stored and how data is related by primary keys.

Learning Resource: and

5. Database Management and SQL

WordPress uses a database to store its content, so it is essential to have a basic understanding of databases and how to manage them, including knowledge of SQL.

Most WordPress installations will use a MySQL or MariaDB database to store data.  I recommend upskilling in one or both before widening your expertise to other WordPress-compatible databases.

Learning Resource: and 

6. Block Editor & Full Site Editing

WordPress deprecated the TinyMCE editor (now called the “Classic Editor”) in favour of a block editor. 

The editor is a “block-based” editor, which allows users to create complex layouts by adding content blocks.

The block editor is just part of a larger project named “Gutenberg”, which encompasses the future vision of the WordPress open-source project.  

Full Site Editing (FSE) was released with WordPress version 6.0, allowing users to build all the components of a WordPress site, including the header and footer areas.

Learning Resource: 

7. Block Development

A wide variety of blocks are available for the default WordPress block editor, ranging from text and images to more complex blocks for forms, galleries, and maps.

Developers can create custom blocks for client projects or distribution on the plugin repository.

You should be comfortable with the framework for creating custom blocks.

Learning Resource: 

8. Security

Security is critical in web development, and WordPress sites are no exception. 

With WordPress powering close to 45% of the top 10 million websites, it has a massive target on its back and is a popular hack vector for bad actors.

You should understand the common security threats facing WordPress sites and how to protect against them.

Learning Resource: 

9. SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital for any website, and you should understand how to optimise a WordPress site for the Google search engine.

Many aspects of WordPress could affect how you perform SEO. These could include

  • Keyword choices.
  • Internal linking.
  • Number and complexity of plugins.
  • Theme.
  • SEO plugin.
  • Image sizes.
  • Page load speed.
  • Caching.
  • CDN.
  • Database and query performance.
  • Using UTM parameters & codes to track external post links.

Learning Resource: and 

10. Responsive Design

As the world becomes increasingly digital, businesses must have a website that looks good and functions well on various devices. That’s where responsive web design comes in.

Creating a WordPress website that runs on all popular devices is a given requirement and should not be “advertised” as an addition to the project.

I have a statement in my client project contract to say which default devices and versions are supported.

Learning Resource: 

11. Debugging and Troubleshooting

As a WordPress developer, you often encounter bugs and issues with your code.

You should have a good understanding of debugging techniques in WordPress, PHP and on the server and be able to troubleshoot problems effectively.

Learning Resource: and 

12. Project Management

As a WordPress expert, you will often work on multiple projects and manage multiple clients. 

Good project management skills are crucial to ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget.

Skills will include

  • Strong Communication Skills.
  • Running a Discovery Session.
  • Project Planning and Scheduling.
  • Risk Management.
  • Budgeting and Estimating.
  • Problem-Solving Skills.
  • Adaptability.
  • Leadership and Motivation.

Learning Resource:  and 


This isn’t an exhaustive list of what you need to know to become a successful WordPress expert. However, mastering these core skills will set you on the correct path to success.  Learning is a continuous process.

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