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Why Custom Theme Development is the Right Step For Your Career

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Why Custom Theme Development is the Right Step For Your Career

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A few months ago, I was interviewing potential candidates for a junior developer role at my agency, Day Shift Digital. We were looking for developers who knew or were willing to learn WordPress to help us work through the line up of WordPress projects filling our project pipeline. All of the potential candidates I interviewed seemed surprised that we were looking for developers who built WordPress themes, as they didn’t think WordPress was still something developers should know. This is a common perception in the development community these days. As JavaScript languages gain in popularity, most new developers focus on learning them. The knowledge and power of knowing how to build custom themes in popular content management systems is an important and valuable skill.

Whether you are fresh to the development world, having only built a few HTML and CSS sites, or you are a JavaScript jedi master, knowing how to build themes in popular content management systems is a great step in your development career. Here’s why:

WordPress and Shopify are really popular.

WordPress and Shopify are two of the most popular content management systems in the world.

WordPress's functionality is extremely powerful. It powers almost 30% of all sites on the web - and not just blog sites. In my development shop alone, we’ve used WordPress to build:

  • a learning management system for a client who manages and hosts training modules for their customers.
  • digital marketplaces with amazing sorting abilities that meet high SEO standards
  • dozens and dozens of easy to edit and easy to manage marketing sites.

Clients love WordPress so much, many of our clients ask for it by name.

Shopify, one the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world today, is continuing to grow in popularity - soon to hit it’s millionth store! It powers some huge brand’s online shops from Kylie’s Cosmetics, to the New York Times Shop and even the Ontario Cannabis Store. Shopify’s popularity, easy to manage inventory system, easy to set up hosting, and all in one platform solution has such a good reputation, e-commerce shop owners beg us to re-build their store in Shopify.

Because these content management systems are both so popular, knowing how to build themes in them will open many doors in your career as a web developer.

Agencies love WordPress and Shopify experience.

If you are hoping to get a job at an agency, knowing how to build themes in WordPress and Shopify will help you get there. There are tons of agencies who are in the business of building highly customized themes for clients. These agencies want to hire developers who already understand the theming eco-system and are capable of building themes from day one!

WordPress PHP and Liquid are programming languages, just like JavaScript, but are easier to get started in.

Because of the theme templates and a whole lot of out-of-the box functionality, writing PHP in WordPress (the language that powers WordPress themes) and writing Liquid (the language that powers Shopify themes) will make you feel like a web developer superstar while doing a lot less of the heavy lifting that you’d be doing while getting started with a JavaScript framework. You’ll be outputting data from a database into your own custom theme in no time!

If you’ve ever dreamed of freelancing and living out your digital nomad dreams, you should know this stuff.

Have you ever dreamed of quitting your day job and traveling anywhere you’d like in the world, while still getting an income? Building custom WordPress and Shopify themes are just the skills you need to kick start a career as a freelance developer.

Most clients looking to hire a developer to build a website or online store are usually looking for it to be built in a platform where they can easily update and add content, manage their inventory, and find the information they need. Once you know how to build custom themes, you can take on client work and start working on that side hustle or take the plunge into freelance life. Did someone say beachside developer?

Building custom themes is not only a great skill to have in your back pocket, it might be the beginning of a whole new journey in your career!


Ready to learn how to create custom themes for WordPress and Shopify? Our first Custom Theme Development course kicks off this August, and we've got a Free Info Session coming up! Join us to learn everything you need to know about this exciting new course.

RSVP to Custom Themes Info Session Now