I’ve learned how to build WordPress themes and found a few straight to the point tips I think are helpful to know to get started immediately.

If you have a lot of time on your hands, go read the The ThemeShaper WordPress Theme Tutorial: 2nd Edition. It’s a great tutorial with details on how to set a development environment, import data, and how WordPress themes work. The rest of this post is a series of bullet points taken from the tutorial and if you’re looking to get started more quickly, keep reading.

  • If you haven’t set up a local development environment, I suggest doing so. There are many configurations you can use, I set up a WordPress instance on Windows IIS with a MySQL database.
  • Import test/dummy data. The ThemeShaper tutorial suggests a few locations with dummy data on the post called WordPress Theme Development Tools. If you’re in a hurry you can import this file. It’s most of the suggested data in the ThemeShaper tutorial.
  • Grab a copy of the _S (underscore s) starter theme here. This starter theme is a well commented starting point that provides Microformat markup, flexible layout, responsive styling, and localization support.
  • Last tip, diligently debug the local development page’s source code using FireBug or Chrome, find the style classes and DOM element to change, search the theme’s source code, and update.

The last step might sound like it sucks but it’s the fastest way to get started. In my case, I ended up searching throughout the code find the elements and styles I wanted to change even after I read through the tutorial. I hope this helps to get started developing WordPress themes.