coding languages on wordpress

Understanding the different coding languages on WordPress

WordPress is an easy-to-use system that allows users to create beautiful and functional sites. How is it that WordPress is so simple? Don’t all websites need complicated lines of code to operate? In fact, there are lots of coding languages on WordPress, but the beauty is that work is done for you behind the scenes. All you have to worry about is making your site look nice on the front end, and operating it however you like. 

There are four main markup and coding languages on WordPress, and you never have to worry about them to use your site successfully. However, you can learn the languages to make additional changes to your site if you wish. Here’s what you need to know about the coding languages on WordPress. 


HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language, and it is the foundation for websites and webpages. HTML makes up the structure of a site by directing text and images, telling them how to show up on a web page. For example, HTML controls whether wording is bolded or underlined, and what words will become headings. While not technically a coding language, HTML is essential to learn as it relates to the page structure of your site.

When you’re editing a post in WordPress, you’re most likely using the “visual” tab to write your content. Beside that is a “text” tab, and clicking that shows you how your content appears in HTML format. The same wording will be there, but with additional instructions and signs that might not mean much to you. These are directions on how the content should be displayed. For example, if you see <h1> show up beside a heading, this is the symbol to indicate the text is a level 1 heading in HTML form. Other common HTML instructions include <strong> for bolded text and <em> for italics.

You can technically write any content in HTML, but WordPress provides easy buttons and actions so you don’t have to manually code your content. HTML is one of the easiest languages on WordPress to learn, because you can start from scratch with no previous coding experience. Since it is a markup language with no programming involved, it’s fairly simple to learn. 


CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, is another markup language. Just like HTML, CSS isn’t officially a coding language, but its influence over style means it’s necessary to learn before moving onto PHP or JavaScript. It controls the look of the site once the basic foundation has been established with HTML. CSS has power over colours, fonts, backgrounds, and all the other visual elements that make a web page worth reading. Sites would look very stripped down and dull without CSS, which is not going to attract visitors. Without languages like CSS, HTML would look very boring. 

How can you identify what CSS looks like? In its bare form, CSS doesn’t look very interesting or impressive. The power of CSS is what it can do for the front end of your website. For example, a sample of CSS could look something like this:

h1 {

color: green;


This instruction would change the level 1 heading text colour to green. Of course, WordPress has buttons in place to easily select these types of options without coding, which is a time saver and makes life simpler. However, that’s what goes on behind the scenes when you make any styling changes. If you have a grasp on HTML, CSS isn’t too complicated to learn, but you must know HTML to master CSS. 


PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP is a scripting language, and it is one of the more complex coding languages on WordPress. WordPress uses PHP to write content, so it’s a fundamental necessity of the system, but it’s more confusing than HTML and CSS. PHP is a server-side language, which means the code is all processed on your end before it is displayed to someone visiting your site. This way, visitors can’t see the PHP coding on your site like they can with a language like HTML.

PHP is one of the more difficult WordPress coding languages, and users need to know PHP if they want to create their own plugins or themes. Most WordPress core files, along with theme and plugin files, are PHP. Each PHP file connects to the front-end function. For example, header.php controls the delivery of your headers. It’s not necessary to understand PHP to successfully use WordPress, but learning PHP enables you to do more with your site that plugins might not offer. 


Another scripting language, JavaScript makes sites more dynamic, responsive, and interactive. JavaScript takes away the requirement for static websites and lets you use video players, real-time information feeds, moving image galleries, and tons of other interactive pieces on your site. JavaScript is a front-end language, meaning it runs in the browser and enhances the functionality of websites for clients in ways the other languages cannot. You can have a basic grasp on JavaScript in a matter of months, but you should learn HTML and CSS first. 

Truthfully, you don’t need to know any of the coding or markup languages on WordPress to use it well. However, it can advance your abilities with what you can do with your site. Without coding, you rely on plugins and themes, and most of the time this is still more than enough. Learning how to code can simply provide a boost if you want to go beyond what these plugins can offer.

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