11 Online Places To Learn WordPress Inside And Out (Paid And Free Options)
WordPress is running over 17% of the Internet nowadays (and that number keeps growing). It’s being listed as a job skill on job boards. It’s what the technical and non-technical alike are using to build websites. Simple date-based blogs to full-fledged e-commerce solutions and news agency sites are being built with this same core functionality.
So it’s time we learned about this open source software, and time to learn where we can do that learning!
The great thing is that some sources for learning WordPress are free! Better quality, more structured training may come at a small price, but when you think of how well you’d be able to sell yourself on the job market after learning WordPress professionally, they are totally worth the pocket change.
Another great thing is that different resources can apply to different learning levels. Whether you want to learn WordPress from scratch, or learn the latest techniques to grow your development skills with WordPress, the Internet is a great place to do that.
Here is our list of 11 online places to learn WordPress!
1) Lynda.com with Morten Rand-Hendriksen (paid)
This is a super professional way to learn WordPress and is feature rich. Not only are the training videos quality-made, they also come with course files, FAQ abilities, and transcripts, to allow for different learning styles (in case you like reading better than watching a video).
Some videos feature a very fast talking, which are harder to follow, but the more frequently authored ones are by Morten Rand-Hendriksen who takes a very step-by-step and easy-to-understand approach to teaching WordPress. He’ll even use his Legos to help you understand the concept of child themes, if it comes down to it.
But Lynda is not just for learning WordPress, and this is an important point. If you want to get really good at WordPress, you also need to know about other coding fundamentals. Heck, you even need to know how to be a good writer or business owner to make a living from WordPress. Lynda has training on all of that. Here is how Morten describes it:
What differentiates our WordPress training is that that we have a far broader range and depth of WordPress courses – and the supporting courses that help them truly be successful as WordPress professionals – than our competition. Unlike many other WordPress training options, we cover all of the market segments … (beginner, intermediate, advanced, designer, developer, manager, etc). We provide a holistic learning experience that supports everyone from the web designer looking to design beautiful WordPress sites, the web developer looking to build apps on top of the WP core, the business or editorial manager who needs to simply have control over the content they publish, and everyone in-between those personas.
2) Team Treehouse with Zac Gordon (paid with free trials)
Another high quality and professional option for learning WordPress along with other coding essentials, this site formalizes training by offering videos, transcriptions (broken down by the second), project files and forum boards. To help complete the learning cycle, there are also quizzes to take. They have a “Workspace” that you can use to start coding and launching websites within their system. In addition to their browser-based site and iPad app, they also allow you to download their videos using iTunes.
There are two amazing things about training with Treehouse:
- Their user interface is very well designed and super easy to navigate and use – you won’t get lost, wonder where you are or what the purpose of each page is for. This is essential for a learning environment.
- Their WordPress presenter, Zac Gordon, is slow-paced (in a good way), gradual and extremely clear when teaching. The progress and logic makes sense and you can easily follow along. You can both absorb what you’re watching on the screen and what you’re listening to with the vocal instructions.
Treehouse is ‘5 star’ quality WordPress training and caters to both beginners and advanced users.
3) WP Beginner by Awesome Motive Inc. (free)
As their name says, this is for beginners; like, absolute beginners. If you are a developer, this is the site you would send your clients to so they know how to use the site you just built them. If you have never been exposed to WordPress and are trying to learn how to set things up on your own as a DIY user, this is a good starting point.
The great thing is that it’s a free resource with several types of content – written articles, videos, guides, a useful glossary; the whole gambit. They’re also very open about what they use to run their own site, many of which are freely available or well-known plugins. They’ve also got a newsletter to send you multiple types of content, including coupons.
The only catch to getting into their video area is that you have to sign up with your e-mail address. Not a difficult sacrifice to make when you consider the quality of free training you’ll get in return.
There are no extended materials beyond the videos in the members-only area. This means no transcripts or formal teaching materials. Just straight up video content.
4) WP Apprentice by Kirk Biglione (paid)
This is an option for those who want to build their own website and have never done anything like this before. It can also be good for those who are not technical and want to be able to manage their own site that a developer made for them. However, it also has some very basic-level tutorials that you could get for free through some of our other mentioned resources.
Beginner-level topics include things like “Using Screen Options” and “How to Use WordPress Widgets.”
On the flip side, the course offerings also include some more intermediate-level courses such as the “WordPress Theme Mechanics Webinar,” which helps you understand the inner workings of a WordPress theme.
The presenter is very calm and speaks slowly, which makes it a great option for those who really need a lot of hand holding, or want to take notes as the video is playing. Here is how Kirk, the owner, explains WP Apprentice’s differentiation in the WordPress learning market:
The first iteration of my course was actually designed for my clients. These are non-technical business people who need to get up to speed quickly. After a time I realized that more people could benefit from this sort of training. Most of the other WordPress training sites out there seem to assume some level of web design/development experience.
I sometimes feel like those other courses are created by developers for other developers. That’s definitely not the case with my training. I work on the assumption that my members have almost no experience creating websites. It’s actually something of a challenge and I find myself constantly refining the course to make various web concepts more clear to the web novice. As an example, last year I added a web basics module to the course when I realized that members were struggling with basic concepts like FTP and DNS. I continue to expand the training based on member feedback.
As for the individual lessons, I try to add some depth to the training by explaining the hows and whys. It’s really not enough to give a novice a list of steps that they need to go through without providing some background along the way. I also try to anticipate common pitfalls that trip up new WordPress users.
5) WP101 by Shawn Hesketh (paid, with free samples)
These are easy-to-understand, medium-paced videos on the fundamentals of WordPress. This is another resource a developer could use to send their clients to, much like WP Beginner (in fact, they’ve got white label options and a plugin available for developers who want to use their videos for their clients).
This is not where you would go to learn how to develop WordPress sites. The “Intermediate” videos, for example, explain what RSS is and how to understand permalinks. It’s a great resource for bloggers and content creators who want to switch to using WordPress, or who have just begun using WordPress as a website for showcasing their work.
The site itself also has a Q&A Forum available for paying members, which may come in handy for more learning.
6) WordPress.tv by Automattic (free)
This is where all the talks from the amazing WordCamps are posted. The great thing about WordPress.tv is that even if you didn’t get to attend all the live talks you wanted to see at a WordCamp (since they overlap during conference schedules or are too far to get to), you can reference them here later. The only downside is that the event videos are slow to make it on to this site after they’ve happened. So you’d still be better off attending WordCamp anyway (and make new friends while you’re at it!).
7) WebDesign.com by iThemes (paid)
This extensive training library is brought to you by the same company behind iThemes, which develops products like BackupBuddy, Exchange and many other plugins and themes. The topics covered are vast and suitable for advanced or intermediate WordPress users. It’s great for designers or developers who want to brush up their skills or start selling web development services as freelancers.
Their WordPress training courses are a little different than others in this list, in that they are presented as live sessions that include chat and interactivity between the listeners and the presenter.
That being said, the recorded versions can be cumbersome to watch only because the presenter takes the time to answer questions and deal with technical issues during the webinar, which may not be applicable after the event is over. However, the live web-based events are excellent and informative, especially considering they are given in a group setting to people of various learning levels. The teaching is clear and sequenced.
Do note that their webinar schedule can be taken up by sessions that show you how to use their iThemes’ products. It’s not the only thing they teach, so be sure to check out their upcoming schedule and the library of past videos to see if they’ve got topics that would interest you.
8) BlogAid by MaAnna Stephenson (paid but starts at $1)
When I first saw this site, I thought, ‘this is so cool!’ The name was very fitting for the content it provided. Then when I saw what was in the members-only video library I thought, ‘WOW!’
The instruction is very high quality, very sequenced and very easy to follow. The best part? A 20-video set starts at just $1 for a six-month subscription. Yes, just $1. The second-best part? It’s not just WordPress training – the advanced library (which costs more) includes training on basic SEO and MailChimp as well. Essentially, you get the fundamentals for setting up a new site and marketing it well.
MaAnna is the host on all these videos, and also offers live training or pay-as-you-go sessions to help you get your site going. This is the perfect solution for business owners who want to make their own websites and need the helping hand of an expert along the way at an extremely reasonable price.
The thing I love about the videos is that MaAnna doesn’t forget to explain the little nuances that create question marks inside our heads when we first start using WordPress and some of its popular plugins (like what each little TinyMCE editing button does, or why hitting “enter” on our keyboard in Text mode doesn’t create an extra space between lines on the ‘front’ end of our site). Every little thing on the screen that she’s working with is explained. But it doesn’t drag out or get exhausting. There are no “uuuuummms” and “aaannnds” that make the videos boring. They are well paced, well prepared and well delivered.
Here is how MaAnna describes her courses:
What makes this library unique is that my videos are super easy to see, hear, and understand. I set a high standard for quality content and production.
My teaching style is very focused and explains everything to a non-geek audience. The library also has depth to help new site owners advance through their learning, and to help experienced site owners harness the full power of WordPress. The library is kept up to date, and I keep the format consistent.
9) BobWP by Bob Dunn (paid)
Bob Dunn is a WordPress consultant and avid blogger who recently started his own training site with videos and written tutorials. He is very calm when teaching and takes his time to explain things so you can follow along and take notes. These aren’t formalized training sessions with sequenced modules and quizzes, but rather a casual way to get started with WordPress by being able to watch a video on something you need to learn on a whim. For example, learning how to use a plugin or particular theme, or finding out what would happen if you changed your theme.
This type of training is geared towards the DIY WordPress user who wants to learn how to set up a website quickly and easily. With that said, most of his examples and tutorials cover either Genesis or WooThemes. If you’re having trouble setting up a site using either of those frameworks, you’ll probably get some valuable help from BobWP training.
10) Udemy courses by various authors (free and paid)
Udemy is a platform that delivers training on all sorts of subjects, and WordPress is a big topic being taught there. Like Lynda.com, you can learn a variety of topics in one place. But it would be far fetched to say that Udemy is similar to Lynda’s courses. Here anybody can host a course on pretty much anything, while using the interface and tools that Udemy provides, which are excellent. The user interface and intuitiveness behind Udemy makes it easy to navigate through course material, take notes, have discussions, see your course progress and of course, watch videos. Udemy also has apps that work well on mobile phones and tablets, which increases the accessibility of course content.
Each course is run by an independent author. The caveats with these ‘open’ platforms for delivering course content is that there is virtually no quality control apart from the ratings that learners give to each course. So you might win with some, or you might lose, but either way, you can try out a few to get your feet wet, until you find a presenter that suits your style.
11) WPSessions by Brian Richards (paid with free samples)
This is a new(er) place to learn about niche topics related to WordPress, much like WordPress.tv. Instead of being structured courses or tutorials, the presentation style of the videos is more like the specialized talks given at WordCamp gatherings (designed that way on purpose). The next one coming up, for example, is about building a membership site.
These are not targeted at beginner-level students, and some of them delve deep into plugin development and coding tactics that require you to have a previous background in WordPress to be able to catch on.
The sessions are given by WordPress experts over Google Hangout. The owner, Brian, hosts multiple experts in a session, each of which takes a turn speaking about a sub topic. For the time being, some of the sessions are paid, while a few are free. The idea is that eventually they will all be free.
To Conclude: there’s more than one way to learn WordPress!
The great thing with this list is that not all the options will cost you, especially if you are brand new to WordPress. There are multiple places to learn WordPress and you can sample them all until you find the one with the teaching style and method that works well for you.
None of these training sites will replace the school of trial and error, however, which is often the best way to learn. You’ll need to practice, practice, and practice more! Sometimes the struggle of trying to apply what you’ve learned is the best way to get good at something. So even if you’re undecided on a training resource right now, try playing with WordPress, seeing what you can catch with your own wit alone, and then finding a training program that suits your learning level.