WordPress Development In The Real World: Part 1

Hi, I’m Airrick. A practicum student from BCIT’s New Media and Web Development Program. I’ve joined SplitMango for the next little while to help them bring more great websites to the internet.

During my first week I’ve continued to learn about WordPress development. I’ve also learned a few things about adaptability.

Mostly that learning requires creativity, passion, and a little bit of pressure.

Vancouver’s WordPress development community offers mountains of all three. Specializing in custom WordPress development, SplitMango is a perfect fit for my practicum. In the first half of my program, students learn the basics of web development. They continue with Javascript, PHP and custom WordPress development.

SplitMango uses all of those skills. Great I thought. This should be easy.

I’ve just finished my first week here and I’m proud of the work I’ve done while developing with WordPress. I’ve had to quickly learn a few tools to work at a professional level.

A few things helped me when I needed to find a missing piece of the WordPress development puzzle.

1. Ask a lot of questions.

Vancouver’s WordPress development industry is competitive. SplitMango works hard to stay ahead.

Day one began with the team’s technical lead, David Miller, reviewing the current projects and assigning some new ones. Visualizing one client’s request on a wall designed as a whiteboard (didn’t expect that one!). SplitMango is a busy and focused team. They have to be. Multiple projects were preparing to launch this week.

I was asked to finish a WordPress site that already had been started by one of the other developers. Although most of the code was similar to what is taught in BCIT’s program, a few things were new.

So I asked a lot of questions.

The team at SplitMango is very helpful. They solved any issues I had or directed me where I’d be able to find the right answer. This was the most valuable response I was given.

It enabled me to find the solution myself.

2. Sketch, sketch, sketch.

Develop like a designer

Designers are used to sketching. From paper prototypes to logo thumbnails, they are always mocking up their ideas.

As developers we tend to stick to what we know. Code and Documentation. Although they are both valuable, they are not a replacement for proper planning.

When working out the code for the WordPress site I was on, I sketched out the design and labeled the basic code that I would need.

Sketching provided me with a plan. It helped prevent problems we may have not been seen until hours later.

3. Know your tools.

The codex is your friend

BCIT’s program covers a lot about web development, but it can’t cover everything. They teach the basics of WordPress development, but they only have enough time to cover so much.

Here at SplitMango they use a tool called Advanced Custom Fields for WordPress development. This tool allows them to mold WordPress into whatever their clients need. It’s an essential part of any WordPress developer’s tool box.

Unfortunately it’s not the easiest plugin to understand.

At first.

This is the time to look for documentation. Documentation helps developers understand how to use their tools. Luckily enough Advanced Custom Fields has great documentation of their plugin on their website.

Reading through the AFC documentation was worth the time it took and more.

Build, learn, grow

By following these guidelines I went from knowing the basics of WordPress development to understanding how to use the platform for professional websites.

I really could not have learned as much I have so far without the SplitMango team. Without their knowledge of code and design, learning what I have would have taken me much longer.

Remember to reach out to the people around you. They care about your progress and the products you build together.

story written by Airrick Dunfield