Business Teaching WordPress What You Should Know

Student Projects and WordPress

Twenty Seventeen
Twenty Seventeen – the code in the core themes is poetry. Unfortunately that is not the case in many freemium-premium solutions. Why?
Why is the code in socalled professinal themes so hard to understand? Multimedia students often face problems if they use freemium-premium solutions.

Right now the multimedia students at Business Academy Aarhus work on their exam projects. During the project they’ll create an advanced multimedia solution for a real life client, that must be “powered by WorPress”.

Since they are creative multimedia users, they want to change a given theme either by CSS tweaks, or more advanced code, such as custom pages in PHP via the template hierarchy.

A few students have tried to create themes from scratch or very basic skeleton themes. They get the cocalled “1000 hour” headstart from

In this way they had free hands for their creative visions.

Other students go for the popular freemium-premium themes with lots of built in drag and drop options. Such themes are very popular in the business, so working with them is a fine preparation for the life and art of the web designer. But if you think that this choice is cheating or a short cut, think again.

Indeed, some of these self-proclaimed “professional” themes play nasty tricks on the web developer. Basic WordPress functionality, such as custom CSS or other standard WordPress functionality is blocked by some themes!

Often the code in “fremium-premium” solutions is quite hard to understand. Not because the code is more “professional”, but because the developers want to protect whatever they think is a “business secret”. The business model is obvious – if you can’t figure out how to use the “free” theme you have to pay … and that’s what I’d call a booby trap!

Perhaps the beginner should avoid such themes. You may think that you buy support, but in the real world you just pay for more problems! And yeah, you could pay in order to solve these problems too …

So the multimedia designers who used the “professional” themes had to work very hard in order to create the solutions with the tweaks they envisioned.

Often what seem to be the “easy way” or “professional solution” isn’t. Like at all. Most web developers would be better off with a standard no fuzzz theme like the core WordPress Theme Twenty Seventeen, or one of the free themes in the WordPress repositories.

If you want to design posts and pages via drag and drop, perhaps it’s the best choice is to use a standard theme with a good clean and easy readable code, and then add something like Siteorigin’s Pagebuilder to the theme.

At the end of the day you could say that it’s a daunting task to create a WordPress theme from scratch. But when I see the efforts the developers face when fighting with the freemium-premium solutions I have to conclude, that these themes is no shortcut at all.

Teaching WordPress What You Should Know WordPress in the Classromm

A Rough for the Frontpage

My new e-book “Teaching WordPress” is coming soon. The copy is almost ready for deploy. So today I’ve made some sketches for the frontpage. We’ll give these ideas to a designer.


Philosophy Research Project Teaching WordPress Theme Review

24 Hours On WordPress

The last 24 hours or more I have been on WordPress. A template part has been made. In the evening, and night I participated in WordPress Slack. Today the categories were organized in the entire site.

The Aquarelle template part

In Web Developer 258:50 pp. there’s a lovely tutorial on a watercolorlike animation for a web page. I just had to try it out. Here’s the result ( as allways it’s a rough draft, but it was fun to make it ). Functions.php needed a few additional scripts. The partial held the markup, and the javascript. Now the Aquarelle partial may be used on a costum page or similar.

The theme_review meeting

In the evening I participated in two Slack sessions. The first one was the theme review group. Nine or ten active developers participated during the one hour long session. A question was asked:

  • Should we allow iframes?

A heated debate followed. There were utterances, somewhat like:

“I hate iframes …”

More than often there was no argumentation at all, at least from a philosophical point of view. Hating a phenomena is a pathetic argument. Literally speaking! After a while I could see, that these theme reviewers had a point.

Who knows what kind of stuff such iframes link to?

The iframe is not allowed if you want to publish a WordPress theme on the WP repos. So the debate was perhaps just for the hell of it. In the end there was a referendum. Should WP whitelist some urls, like YouTube. The answer was no.

I entered the group because a point on the agenda was a mentor solution for new theme reviewers.


An hour later or so the training group met. The climate was very cosy. The participants suggested new learning modules. Talked about the intended target group: not students but teachers.

I suggested a module on Coding Best Practises. And guess what. I became the first editor. One of the sysops made me editor on the spot. And so the module will come to life wery soon.

Later on one of the group officials helped med to activate an editor account. Now I can edit the text(s). And even look foreward to give some help here and there, if I can. I felt at home and among human beings. So training was a very good experience.

Teaching WordPress

Installing WordPress in a Second Semester Class

Differences between operative systems is a major challenge when you teach WordPress. Experiences from a real life classroom session in a second semester multimedia designer class.

Yesterday I introduced WP to a second semester class. So these notes are based on my own reflections after the session.

First a strategic overview:

The class used XAMPP as a local development environment during their first semester. 32 students were present. 22 had a Windows PC.  10 students or so used a Mac. That is: as far as I remember.

I had a PC, but decided to demonstrate the installation on a system with Windows 10.

In XAMPP a database was created. We used PhpMyAdmin. All created a database named wordpress with utf8. So far so good.

Then the class downloaded the latest version of WordPress, from > latest. That was the easy part. No problems whatsoever here. They unzipped the files to ../htdocs/wordpress/..

In theory they had to edit these lines in wp-config.php:

/** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', 'root');

/** MySQL database password */
define('DB_PASSWORD', ' ');

/** MySQL hostname */
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost');

/** Database Charset to use in creating database tables. */
define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8');

Here the differences between the operative systems proved a major challenge.

  • Most students had WP up and running with no problems.
  • Around five Windows users had problems with XAMPP. The cure was: reinstall.
Mac challenges

So far so good. But the Macs was the real problem. They had to use a password. But: what is the password?

A workaround was used: give a password to root. That was a bad idea. Don’t do it at home, please. XAMPP worked all right, but now the users could not enter PhpMyAdmin from the administration panel!

A better workaround was this: create a new user for the database wordpress and grant all privileges to that user.

Didactic challenge

As a teacher it’s allways a challenge, when 1/3 of a class has to do one type of work – while 2/3 of the class is waiting. To this add some 5-6 students, where XAMPP crashed half a year ago or so. While these studens were fighting with XAMPP-related challenges the ones with WordPress up and running grew impatient.

That’s natural I guess.

Introducing WordPress features

Most of the systems were up and running around 10:30. However a few still had problems, so they were advised follow introductions to posts, pages, menus, themes etc. from 10:30 – 11:30.

During that session, they also tried to personalize the theme with costumize.

Themes and child themes

After lunch I gave an introduction to themes. First I introduced the “sandwich” concept of:

I had developed a minimum viable skeleton theme with as little markup as I felt possible. So I demonstrated:

During this part of the class I downloaded the zip from git and instlled the petj-mvp theme on the fly from a downloaded zip.

I hope that this demo gave an idea of the inner workings of a theme. But skeleton themes are ugly. The last part was an introduction to Twenty Seventeen.

We made a child theme. As far as I could see most of the students had no problems making a child theme of Twenty Seventeen. I demonstrated how to change the footer.php in the child theme:

  • Copy footer.php to the child theme folder.
  • Add a h1 tag (or similar) and add a message.
The last session

So most of the class had WordPress up and running. But still 4-5 students had problems. I decided to focus on these students, and let the rest of the class prepare for the next day .. that is somewhere else.

I had to go through the computers, and look at strange XAMPP problems. Some installations refused to work even though everything seemed fine.

As a workaround these students installed WordPress via Bitnami. This installation works like a charm. But I knew that the files are saved in another location.


On a Mac the files are in a similar folder, but of course in:


Again the Mac users had to unlock the folders in order to upload images etc.

14:20 Leaving the classroom

The last student had his WordPress up and running @14:20. So much for the famous “Five minutes install”. WordPress is not the problem here. It’s XAMPP and the differences between the operative systems. Here’s a huge stumbling block for WordPress teachers.

As a teacher I need a local development platform, where WordPress just works out of the box on any platform – be it Mac, Windows or Linux.

Teaching WordPress

Curriculum 2nd Semester

Twenty Seventeen: screenshot.png
Twenty Seventeen: screenshot.png

Reflow to the business academy

Friday: on a meeting we prepared for the upcoming semester.

I told the 2nd semester team about the ideas behind Twenty Seventeen. In many ways the theme for our first project and Twenty Seventeen are similar.

It’s interesting to note, that topics we’ve worked on for the last two -three years find its way to official WordPress themes. For instance Twenty Seventeen is defined as immersive.

Teaching WordPress

A Fellow Researcher

WordPress used by researcher to publish findings
WordPress used by researcher to publish findings


Today a fellow researcher mentioned that she wanted to publish her findings on a WordPress blog. The researchers with a multimedia background promised to give an introduction to “add images and media“.

Deduction I: WordPress is everywhere. It’s not just a question of the odd multimedia designer student mocking up a web presence or webshop. WordPress is a tool for researchers too.

Deducton II: WordPress is used because you can publish without code knowledge. The ease of use is a major key to the influence of WordPress.


Teaching WordPress

WordPress = 25% of the Web

WP powers 25% of the web.
WP powers 25% of the web according to W3Techs. Click on the image  if you want to see updated data.

Why you should know WordPress?

Have a look at the statistics. WordPress powers 25% of the web.

Why should you know anything about WordPress? Because it powers 25% of the web. In a not so far future WordPress may power more web pages than the home-hacked ones.

The illustration above demonstrates the present power of WordPress. The green line shows websites that don’t have a CMS. Perhaps they’ve hacked their own system. Who knows what they did.

The rising red line at the bottom of the graph is WordPress. You can see, that the line rises. The red line is what is happening out there. WordPress powers more and more web pages.

The many lines at the bottom of the image are all the other CMSs. As you can see the competition is almost nil. WordPress may not be the best CMS out there. Perhaps one of the geeky CMSs used by 0.00001% may be far better.

Knowing WordPress equals knowing content management. So here you have the statistic argument for knowing WordPress.