Some years ago, I began helping out with the website for one of the places I worked. I already had developed my own experience in html and general website coding, and had taught myself PHP, so I wasn't new to website programming. But I'm one of those people who likes to find simple solutions to making things better. So when the business asked me to take over the administration of their website, I began to think about ways to improve the experience for our own staff and industry stakeholders.
I won't explain the organisation here, suffice to say that we needed a public facing website and had contractual arrangements to make available and display certain data and information. The website handed to me was the first one the company ever had. It eventually became quite messy and lacked consistency across the pages (among other issues!).
I thought we could do better. So for the new skin, I began developing a simple project management plugin solution. It wasn't anything fancy, just create a project, add a narrative, add documents, options to control the project and project stages (and a bit more). There wasn't any other project management system that could do things the way we wanted. Over time, this had me diving into how WordPress worked, which had me wondering if I could build something similar for my own website.
My site started out as pure PHP. Which was great because it meant it didn't rely on too many other frameworks. But, WordPress does make getting things going easier, quicker, and there are lots of plugins and free open source stuff available to expand on with. So, for those not wanting to manage a completely coded site, or who don't know how to, WordPress is a pretty good starting place. I installed WordPress so I didn't have to do everything by code.
My website didn't need a complete project management system, but I needed some way of managing a portfolio of projects. I had become quite familiar with WordPress by this point, and decided to build my own plugin. And here is where my WordPress theme, and customised plugins, were born from.
Today, my site completely uses my own custom built theme, with in-built plugins and custom functionality. I'm pretty wrapped I've been able to do that. While it's nothing to write home about (there are more professional looking themes out there than mine!), it does what I need it to do and it serves its purpose. I have control over everything, including my own portfolio management plugin, and I can try just about anything I like. That's not all rosy - I have to fix anything that goes wrong! But, it keeps me up-to-date with programming in WordPress and PHP. And if it helps me program better things in other places, that's not such a bad thing either.