Core WordPress Technology

This guide is for visual designers who are used to working with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and other popular graphic, HTML, and text editors. They should not have any experience with server-side scripting or programming.

No matter how much you know about web development or how good you are, you will be shown clear, step-by-step instructions. But you will need to know a lot about web development and WordPress if you want to get the most out of this guide.

WordPress CMS

wordpress technologyThe most important thing is that you should know at least a little bit about the latest stable version of WordPress. You should know how to add content to WordPress and how its pages, posts, and categories work.

If the theme you are using allows it, you should know how to set up a custom menu (the WordPress default Twenty Ten theme will allow you to play with custom menus). It will also help to know the basics of how to install and use plugins (though we will cover that to some extent in the later chapters of the guide as well).

Even if you’ll be working with a more technical WordPress administrator, you should have an idea of what the WordPress site you’re designing involves and what (if any) extra plugins or widgets will be needed for the project.

If your site needs more plugins and widgets, you’ll want to have them ready and/or installed in your WordPress development installation (or sandbox), a place to test and play without messing up a live site.

This will make sure that your design works for all the different kinds of content the site wants to offer. In just a minute, we’ll go over the basics of setting up your sandbox in this chapter.


You don’t have to remember all of the markup tags in the XHTML or HTML5 standards. If you really want to, you can still switch your HTML editor to the Design view to add those markup tags you keep forgetting. But the more you know about HTML and HTML5, the easier it will be to use the Code view of your HTML editor or a plaintext editor.

The more you work directly with the markup, the faster you’ll be able to make well-built themes that load quickly, make sense, can be easily expanded to add new features, and are friendly to search engines.


You don’t have to know how to code in PHP to use this guide, but you should know that WordPress relies heavily on PHP to do its magic. A lot of this PHP code will be visible in the different template files for your theme. For your theme to work with your WordPress installation and for template files to work with your theme, you need PHP code.

If you at least know how basic PHP syntax works, you’ll be much less likely to make mistakes when retyping or copying and pasting code snippets of PHP and WordPress template tags into your theme’s template files. You’ll be able to tell the difference between your template files, XHTML, and PHP snippets more easily, making it less likely that you’ll delete or overwrite something important by accident.

If you learn more about PHP, you’ll be able to change variables, call new functions, or even make your own functions, which will give your WordPress site even more options.


In this guide, we’ll explain the CSS rules and properties in detail, especially the CSS3 rules and how to use progressive enhancement to support browsers that don’t support CSS3. We’ll also tell you “how” and “why” we make our style sheets.

You should know a little bit about CSS and how to set up a cascading stylesheet and add it to an HTML page. The better your WordPress theme-making experience will be, the more you know about CSS markup and how to use it effectively with HTML.

Other Technologies In WordPress Themes

If your project will use other special technologies like JavaScript, AJAX, or Flash content, you should learn as much as you can about how these scripting languages and technologies work (again, a great place to start).

The more you know about web technologies in general, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to make a more flexible theme that can handle anything you might want to add to your site in the future. To build a WordPress theme, you don’t have to be an expert in all of them, though.


This guide is for visual designers who are used to using popular graphic, HTML, and text editors like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and others. But if you want to get the most out of this guide, you will need to know a lot about web development and WordPress. To use this guide, you don’t have to know how to code in PHP. You need PHP code for your theme to work with your WordPress installation. If you know more about web technologies, you’ll probably be able to make a more flexible theme.