Table of Contents for the series

We’ve used WordPress as the base for our web site for quite a while. Thus, I’m reasonably familiar with plug-ins and themes as a user. Recently, however, I decided to dive deeper into actually designing for WordPress.

The “back story” is probably not uncommon, at least in the broadest terms. My parents moved out of their home of all-too-many-years not long ago. As part of the process of downsizing them from a gargantuan house to an apartment in an Independent Living facility, I became the custodian of two 6-foot shelves full of family memorabilia. My grandfather had a bit of the “genealogy bug,” and so much of that is notebooks and notebooks of photos, along with family trees and other related “stuff.” Other members in the extended family (my brother among them) are also interested in the family history and these trinkets, so it would seem a shame for all of that to just moulder away in my basement.

Being the geek that I am, the obvious solution was to start working my scanner overtime, and to create a website on which all this stuff could be posted. WordPress was an obvious solution. I had some “coolness features,” however, that I wanted to include – among them being storing “relationship” metadata about various people, and having the site automatically generate links back and forth. A plugin, combined with a theme, seemed like the way to go. So that’s the path I’m headed down.

Now, one of the advantages of WordPress is that you can do all this stuff, and there are copious resources “out there” to guide you. What I’ve found, however, is that lots of different people cover portions of the overall topic, but they each (of course) do it in their own way, based on the features WordPress had when they wrote the particular article. It makes for a rather fragmentary journey, even though you can find it all.

I knew, however, that I’d be working at this for a while, and rather than having to go find the same links over and over again, I thought I’d document my progress here. (Those of you who are technical bloggers know that sometimes we write articles not because we’ve found something new, but because we want a place we can go back to later when we inevitably forget.) My other justification is that, while many sites tell you what to do, they don’t always tell you why you need (or should) do it. I’m one of those people that always wants to understand the underpinnings, so that’s going to be a big focus as I go along.

Along the way, I’m going to try to use what I perceive as “best practices” for WordPress development. PHP and WordPress aren’t my main livelihood, so it’s entirely possible that the experienced among you will laugh at some of my feeble attempts. If so, feel free to correct me – I’m happy to learn.



WordPress Customization Series – Background originally appeared on