If you’re looking to try your hand at making a WordPress theme but aren’t sure how to actually get started, there’s a book that may be helpful to you.
Building a WordPress Theme From Scratch: The Basics (For Designers) by Joseph Erickson walks the reader through getting a bare bones theme up and running. I came across the book while searching through the Kindle book store for resources on WordPress.
I assume that minimum pre-reqs for the reading are comfort with HTML and CSS, and a lack of fear of PHP (the author walks you through all of the PHP pretty gently). Of course, the more you know about any of these, the better off you will be… I would assume.
Also, familiarity with simply using WordPress would be crucial, but I suppose that’s obvious.
Maybe you’ve had some similar experiences:
I’ve been using WordPress for about 6 years now in one way or another. Like most WordPress users, I’ve always used pre-made themes, either free or purchased.
Inevitably, each time that I installed a theme I found myself tinkering around with the theme files, not unlike how a caveman might take a stone hatchet to the innards of an electric car. Under the hood were all these glowing question marks and parentheses. Sometimes I would have luck moving things around; more often I would just break things. I found my lack of understanding to be frustrating.
But coding has been a recent obsession for me. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been slowly learning things, more out of a sense of adventure than to any specific end.
When having a specific end started to seem like a good thing to try, the leap from markup and language exercises to actually building something seemed like a big gap. On the other side of that gap, for me, was a hand-coded WordPress theme.
Building a WordPress Theme From Scratch is what safely bridged the gap.
By the end of the book, you’ll have written a theme, and you should be left with just enough knowledge to start taking some steps on your own.
If you’ve been trying to figure out how to get started writing a theme for WordPress, this should be a quite empowering experience.
So, for what it’s worth, the current theme of this website is an extension of what I learned in the book.
The theme is called Strips. It is hand-coded by yours truly, and supported by Bootstrap 3.1.1 CSS (mostly for responsive goodness).
I don’t expect to be graded on a curve, but as it stands, Strips is currently version 0.1. I hope to be able to put the time in to fix some of the obvious issues, as well as some less obvious ones.
For posterity, here are some screenshots of what the site looks like today: