Getting to Know WordPress

Most articles that I find get into advanced topics for WordPress pretty fast. They forget that when you’re brand new, you need to be spoonfed every little thing and given time to become familiar with WordPress basics first.

Why WordPress

WordPress is a very powerful website system that lets you focus on content more than anything else. Once setup, you can easily grow your website with new content and not have to worry about all the technical stuff.

You may need some help getting it installed and getting the basic design in place, but once that’s done you won’t need professional help with updating content. That’s a huge benefit.

WordPress is extensible as well. There are countless add-ons that give you additional capabilities. ECommerce, newsletters, membership systems, and much more are already out there and you just download the plug-in and go. It’s amazing what you can put together in a very short time.

Alternatives to WordPress

Hosted Website Builders – GoDaddy and other web services companies offer free, or inexpensive site designers that let you build an attractive site on your own. These are great, but are very limited in what you can do. This might fit your needs if you don’t need much. There’s attractive and low cost. But very limited overall.

From Scratch – There’s a category of developers who like to program everything from scratch. They want to write all the HTML, all the JavaScript, and all the backend functionality. This is the most flexible as you can build literally anything you want. Very large projects are amost always built this way. But the process is very labor intensive, plagued by bugs and security risks, and take longer to build. Very few businesses truly need this level of flexibility and very few businesses want the expense of having to create everything from scratch.

Hosted Systems – Some companies offer a website product as part of their business software system. This includes hosted versions of Adobe Magento, Oracle’s NetSuite, and others. These systems require consultants to help you get started but are very powerful. They usually included integrated payment systems, accounting, personnel systems, and much more. This fits more into how you run your business than about building a website.

WordPress fits in as an entry level, yet powerful, turnkey system that lets you get up and running with a very professional design at a reasonable cost. That’s why many web design companies prefer to build upon WordPress. That’s what we do for most of our clients.

An Overview of WordPress

WordPress has a few components built in that everyone should become familiar with. Let’s go over these:

The Theme – The theme is what the site actually looks like. It includes graphics, colors, fonts, menu placement, logos, etc. All the things that are the same on every page of your site. WordPress comes with a few themes built-in to get you started and there are themes you can add-on for free or paid. In addition, you can have a designer create a custom theme for you. Theme development is a skillset and you shouldn’t plan on doing that yourself. But there are some plug-ins that make some basic site design features available to you that can do yourself. But we won’t go into that here.

Pages – WordPress pages are pages that are the pages that are not date-senstive. Pages would include your home page, contact us page, about us page, list of services, or anything that’s always there. We call this STATIC CONTENT. You can add and remove pages as often as you like.

Posts – These are dated articles, or blog posts, that you write that tend to be more calendar oriented. It doesn’t have to be. For example, you might write a post a week to update on your company. Or you might write a post about places you are visiting on your travel blog. These can be organized by category. This page is a blog post. But it could just as well have been a wordpress page. The system is pretty flexible.

Media – WordPress keeps all the videos and images you want on your site in the media library. This just makes it easier to organize those assets that you will include on other pages or posts.

WordPress Add-Ons

There are tens of thousands of add-ons or plug-ins that can be added to your site. There are site-builder tools that help you control the look and feel of your site. And there are plug-ins that give you brand new functionality. If you want to add forums? Install bbPress. If you want a shopping cart, install wooCommerce. Need forms on your website, again, no problem. The list goes on and on. There’s something out there for virtually every need you can think of.

Getting a WordPress Site

You can go to http://WordPress.com and sign-up for a free account and build a site there. They don’t let you use add-ons, but it is a free and easy way to start.

Get a web hosting account and install WordPress there. This is the most flexible way and doesn’t cost much. For most people this is what we recommend. Once setup, you can login to the ADMIN account and start creating. To download WordPress, you get it from their sister site, http://WordPress.org.

The Admin Page

Once you have a WordPress site setup, you’ll login. Once logged in, WordPress will show you an admin page that has sections for Posts, Pages, Media, and some configuration pages. Just start looking at each section and create some sample content.

The biggest thing to remember is that pages and posts are different and you want to put your content where it best fits.

There are countless YouTube videos that will show you more about configuring themes, menus, and all that. This article is your Day ONE stuff.

Here’s a YouTube channel that has videos covering each element and shows you how to use WordPress.

TIP: Open two tabs on your browser. One pointing to your site. The other pointing to your admin page. This way you can easily go back and forth between what you are creating and what it looks like to the public.