When I picked up my new SUV last summer, the dealership tried to give me a quick overview of the dashboard and options available. They had me for the first five minutes and then I completely lost interest and just wanted to drive off into the sunset with my fancy new ride.
Sadly that training failure isn’t an isolated experience for me or anyone else.
For training to work well, the trainer needs to be knowledgeable, structured, patient, and have the ability to apply their skills to situations the trainees can understand. The trainee also needs to be in the right mindset, be in the proper setting, and have a need for the educational content being presented.
That’s a whole lot of things to get right. And while I just named a few, I think you see my point of the stars needing to be aligned for training to work and be effective.
Now think back to my SUV purchase and my defunct training session. What went wrong?
I wasn’t prepared for the training, I wasn’t in the right mindset, and I was not in the right setting. And worse yet, I’m not the type of person that can sit and listen to someone give me a verbal lesson. I’m a jump in kind of girl that likes to figure out as much as she can on her own before asking for or receiving assistance.
When I picked up my vehicle, I was not in the mindset for training thus virtually everything the dealership said was ignored. I couldn’t absorb it and honestly, it just didn’t fit my preferred method of learning. I’m not the type of person who sits through a training session. And because of it I exited the training as fast as I could.
We’re Uniquely Human
Everyone has their own method of learning. We humans are unique and we all have our own ways of doing things. Whether a person is learning to control their car navigation system or learning to code PHP, different training methods will work for different types of people.
Recently there was an article published in the Wall Street Journal about building websites. The article author talked about launching a website about the family dog and in doing so stated “I ruled out popular options such as WordPress, which isn’t as user friendly” which truly set me off because it was an overly simplified and inaccurate view of WordPress.
How does this author know it isn’t user friendly? Did she take the time to investigate WordPress, learn WordPress, or ask for opinions of those who build and manage websites in WordPress? I’m assuming not and I think this was a disservice to her readers.
In an effort to defend my beloved WordPress, let’s explore some of the great options available for users and coders who would like to learn WordPress. I’m pretty sure you, my reader, will fine something that fits your style of learning.
The below WordPress courses and resources cover free and paid options for learning WordPress, coding with CSS or PHP, and launching a WordPress business.
Paid Tools for Learning WordPress & Coding
iThemes was founded by Cory Miller, who I believe is one of the most endearing and nicest people in the WordPress community. I used one of his stock themes when I was first starting out with WordPress and in more recent years I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with him at WordCamps and other WordPress events. Cory is smart and truly focused on provided solid products and services to the WordPress community. Because I am so fond of Cory the person, I know iThemes Training must be top notch. He would produce nothing but excellence.
iThemes Training offers over 500 hours or on-demand training, 15 hours of live webinars each month, a members-only forum, and live events. While this is a paid membership, I’m pretty sure it would be worth every penny spent.
Each course offers reviews and ratings, so you’ll have a good sense of the course quality before signing up.
Lynda.com offers a bountiful selection of training course that are geared towards both users and developers. I know some of these instructors personally so I can whole heartedly say these people can help you learn WordPress.
Morten Rand-Hendriksen and Carrie Dils are two WordPress consultants who really know their WordPress code. They have some great courses available that will help you learn WordPress in a concise and well-structured manner. And most importantly, they’ll teach you the right skill-set and the right way to use your newfound education.
With over 5 million people using Tuts+ each month, this Envato website is a powerhouse. The course offering provides educational resources for users, designers, and developers to learn about coding, illustration, photography, web design, and of course WordPress. This website offers over 19,000 free tutorials, over 500 courses, and 180 eBooks. That’s a whole lot ways for your to learn WordPress and everything that touches WordPress!
Team Treehouse is a great competitor to Lynda.com and offers just as much goodness. With educators like Jesse Petersen on board, I can confidently say these WordPress courses will help get you started and keep you grounded in best practices.
Team Treehouse offers a large library of WordPress courses for their basic plan and then provides bonus content and conferences to their pro students.
What makes this learning site even better? You can use their free trial to get started and try it out.
Udemy offers a range of courses on WordPress that cover multiple price points, languages, topics, and skill levels. These WordPress courses cover anything from basic set up to SEO and membership sites.
The downside of this course website is that I didn’t recognize any of the names from the WordPress listing, which makes me a bit suspect although I could totally be overreacting here. It doesn’t mean that their not great, it just means I cannot vouch for them since I do not know the trainers.
WP101 is a set of videos created by follow WordPress smarty Shawn Hesketh. I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Shawn and his lovely wife Kay, so I can confidently say they are good people.
Our firm subscribes to this service and we’ve done so for quite a while. We provide the videos for free to stock theme buyers and we install the tutorial plugin into every WordPress dashboard of our custom website clients. This clearly states that I not only believe in Shawn’s product, but I’m willing to pay for it so my customers can have easy access to it.
The WP101 video library includes videos that cover basic topics like installing WordPress and spans to more advance topics like RSS feeds, custom fields, and using the Yoast SEO plugin. There is also a members only forum available.
While I do not know the creator of WP Apprentice personally, Kirk Biglione was a speaker at an O’Reilly Media conference so this does give him some credibility in my mind. This is further supported by the social proof on the website. It states over 10,000 people have used the site to learn WordPress and also offers some testimonials from customers.
The website offers a free quick start guide and then two paid courses for WordPress Essentials and a Website Blueprint.
WP Session is a education site that was created by fellow Michigander Brian Richards. Besides being just a great guy who is very smart, he solicits some of the smartest folks in WordPress to provide educational courses. User focused topics include e-commerce, membership sites, forum usage, and security. Developer focused topics include WP Rest API, mobile apps, Backbone,js, and unit testing.
I know Brian and his lovely family personally, so I can attest to his abilities and his good heart. Add in the fact that his wife Katie is adorable and they have the best baby ever and well, I’m just very confident you’ll find great resources for learning WordPress and they’ll be backed by someone who has your best interest at the forefront of activity.
Free Tools Available to Learn WordPress
Bob Dunn (aka BobWP)
Bob is an active member of our WordPress community and has a wonderful calmness about him. He works with bloggers and small businesses in one and one training, runs local workshops, runs MeetUps, speaks at WordCamps, and provides online education to the WordPress community.
Simply put, Bob is an unsung hero in our community. If you’d like some personalized training with someone who truly knows his stuff, head on over and visit Bob’s website. You’ll be glad you did.
Have you heard of Chris Lema? I love asking this question when I’m speaking at a conference, because once I explain to the audience that he blogs daily about WordPress topics they are always very eager to visit his website and find out more about him and his unending knowledge.
Chris Lema writes on a variety of topics covering all aspects of WordPress, themes, plugins, business, and marketing. His content is very readable and very helpful to both users and coders alike. And I’m not just saying that because Chris is a friend. He truly provides a lot of useful content and does so at a frequency level we all wish we could obtain.
If I ever want to learn more about a plugin or WordPress feature and I Google it, Chris’ website pops up at least once or twice on page one of the search results because he is guaranteed to have content written on the subject. And generally when I start reading a given article, his blog post is enough to answer my question and get me on the right path.
Whether you are new to WordPress or looking to advance your knowledge, you should sign up for Chris’ blog so you can have endless opportunities to learn WordPress and have this education delivered daily to your inbox.
Codex is a WordPress.org property that includes education on key WordPress features, getting started guides, code references, and a large selection of WordPress lessons. There are so many opportunities to learn WordPress here I cannot begin to cover them all.
For users new to WordPress, the WordPress for Beginners area of the WordPress Lessons is the best place to start. I do not recall this being available when I began using WordPress back in 2008. I wish it had been, because I would have loved it. Instead I would find myself searching through the regular Codex content which is heavily geared towards developers and hardcore coders. To say I was lost 50% of the time would be an understatement. Thankfully users like me don’t have to worry about that today in 2015.
If you are coder and just starting out with WordPress, you can head on over to the Coding Standards, Advanced Topics, Developer Documentation, or Coder Reference sections to learn about servers, databases, plugin development, APIs, and the WordPress source code. The Codex creators did provide a notice of “programming code ahead” so people like me don’t get sidetracked and overloaded with talk of PHP functions.
Facebook is actually a good source of information for those learning WordPress. There are many public and private groups available for users and developers to ask questions, share insight, and just chat. Groups range from beginner level questions to more advance topics.
The Advanced WordPress group is very strong and has over 14,000 members. I have not only asked questions here, but I’ve also posted job openings and answered questions.
If you are a Genesis framework user, then you should visit the Genesis WordPress group and request an invite. This private group has over 3,000 members and is very active with discussions from users, developers, and even the Copyblogger team.
One final group to consider is the private Advanced WooCommerce group. This Facebook group has over 2,000 members and the members talk about anything from upgrade issues to extensions and premium themes.
While Github’s prime focus is version tracking and workflow control, there are a lot of free code snippets, themes, and plugins located on the website. You’ll see people of all coding caliber posting free information here, so the site is definitely worth your time to review.
Make sure you pop over to Github, sign yourself up for an account, and search for some of your favorite WordPress coders. You’ll be surprised at how much information is there to help you learn WordPress.
So there have been a lot of rumors about the future of Google+ and I’ll admit that I see the usage down and activity fading. This saddens me because I really did like Google+. That said, the communities are still going strong.
Here are just a sampling of some of the WordPress communities on Google+:
- WordPress #1 – 59,000 members
- WordPress #2 – 15,000 members
- WordPress Developers – 8,000 members
- Genesis Framework – 3,000 members
- WordPress Entrepreneurs – 1,200 members
While the Genesis community is closely monitored and spam is limited, not all communities are like this so pick your entry carefully.
HONGKIAT doesn’t offer courses, but the website does offer a large amount of WordPress related articles for you to read and explore. The WordPress content is augmented by additional articles on design, UX, and coding.
It’s a lot like WP Beginner, but just not nearly as cool.
You can subscribe to the website and get the newest articles delivered right to your inbox for free.
Post Status is a website that was launched by Brian Krogsgard in January of 2013. While I was hesitant to follow it at first, I’m really glad I embraced it this year.
Brian offers a large amount of free content and then also has a subscription based email that arrives daily. I subscribe to this and I am always happy to see his email pop into my inbox because I know it is filled with a bunch of WordPress goodness I might not be aware of yet.
SIDEKICK is a plugin that provides guided, step-by-step walkthroughs (like tutorials) of tasks right inside the WordPress dashboard. It’s great for onboarding new WordPress users or teaching experienced users how to use a new theme or plugin.
The plugin was developed by my friends Ben Fox and Bart Dabek, who are super smart, amazing people. They’re young, eager, and focused on producing an great learning experience for users in and outside of WordPress.
Our team helped produce the Genesis focused walkthroughs to help expand the SIDEKICK tool even further. This makes SIDEKICK one of my personal favorites.
Slack is a software platform that was created for team communication, however it is grown to be far more than that chitchat. The WordPress community has embraced Slack and as such there are many private groups waiting for you to join.
From theme frameworks to personal groups, Slack has a community that will welcome you and embrace your inner need for education, discussion, and learning WordPress.
I’m a member of a number of Slack groups and they are so active, I can’t begin to keep up with the discussion streams. And this pains me, because there is so much good dialogue occurring here each day I know I’m missing out a lot of great information.
I actually almost forgot this one, but they I remembered it for the valuable source of WordPress it is. Slideshare is a website that hosts presentation slide decks, but don’t’ discount it and PowerPoint presentations too quickly.
This site has over 100,000 presentations about WordPress and many are from top WordPress developers, designers, and business owners. You’ll find some great information on plugins, themes, and functionality and along the way you’ll also find some WordPress experts to follow. This site is definitely worth the visit.
The Matt Report
On the Matt Report website Matt Medeiros interviews consultants and business owners that are building their business in and around the WordPress community. In the podcast, he digs into his guests’ experience to understand the best practices and lessons learned in running a WordPress business.
I was a guest on the Matt Report a few years back and I know firsthand that Matt is a great interviewer and he produces a great podcast show.
If you’d like to learn about launching or growing a WordPress business, the Matt Report is a must visit website.
If you jump onto a discussion in Twitter about WordPress, you might be surprised at how much information can be gathered in just 140 characters. Twitter regulars not only share information freely, they provide coding snippets via links, and particpate in scheduled chat sessions like #WPChat.
I’ve found new employees, emergency help, industry news, and a whole lot of entertainment via Twitter.
The cool thing about WordCamps is that the speakers travel to conferences and present on their subject matter for free. This means the speakers are all talking about something their passionate about and they are there because they want to help. That makes their presentations powerful. Add in that WordCamp presenters are some of the sharpest minds in the community and attending is something that must land on your business bucket list.
The amazing part about WordCamps is that you can talk one-on-one with virtually any presenter and they will give you advice, suggestions, and education all for free. I love WordCamps so much that I start to go into withdrawal if I don’t attend one every few months.
If you’re just starting out and you’re only blogging, this is a solid resource to learn WordPress. It is designed to teach new bloggers about the ins and outs of WordPress.com hosted blogs. If you’re new to blogging and not comfortable with technology, start here.
The downside of this source is it won’t help you much if you are using WordPress.org software on your self hosted blog or website. If you are on self hosted WordPress, you’ll want to try one of my other sources for assistance.
If you can’t get to a physical WordCamp, you can always watch the presentations online at WordPress.tv. This gives your some great education for free and right within your home or office. Grab a cup of coffee and sit back and enjoy some amazing presentations.
The negative to WordPress.tv is not all videos feature the slides, so you might be a tad confused at times. Even with that possible downside, WordPress.tv is a great resource for learning more about WordPress.
This website is listed last but only because I added resources alphabetically. WPBeginner.com is a fabulous resource for anyone starting out with WordPress. It was started by a wicked smart gentlemen named Syed Balkhi and it is now run by a team of writers who post new content and update old content daily. The site covers topics such as themes, plugins, hosting, security, and little known features you didn’t know existed.
The best part is it is written for the everyday reader. Functionality is discussed at a user level and coding is written in a manner that even allows me to understand it. I’d highly recommend you visit this website and subscribe to receive blog post updates via email. You’ll be surprised at how much hidden goodness exists in WordPress.
Isn’t Time for You to Learn WordPress?
I spent quite a bit of time researching and writing this blog post. I did so because I know different people learn in different ways, which is fully supported by the amazing websites and tools available within the WordPress community.
With the above list of learning resources you get to learn WordPress your way and at a pace that matches your schedule and your budget.
Now that I’ve given you the tools to learn WordPress, it’s a matter of digging in and reviewing these educational resources to find out which one works best for you.
If you are on Twitter and you want to follow some of the WordPress people I mentioned in this article, below are links to their Twitter accounts: