Basics of WordPress

Understanding the Basics of WordPress

WordPress is a web-based blog/website creation software available as a free download. Initially released in 2003 as an open-source software program, it's developed and maintained by hundreds of volunteers and is currently the world's most popular blogging platform.

WordPress is also available without any installation via WordPress.com, which provides free web hosting and a subdomain, though you can pay for extras such as the ability to host your own domain name and install plug-ins, et cetera.

WordPress that you download and install from WordPress.org on your own web host has no limitations and requires no fee to use the available features. There are options to buy things like customised themes and plug-ins, but since they are literally thousands of free ones available, WordPress is very flexible regarding cost and usability.

In this guide were going to explain what features WordPress has to offer and how to use them.

This guide only applies to WordPress that you have downloaded and installed on your own web host, not the pre-installed WordPress available via WordPress.com. The reason for this is that though, the user interface is almost identical, there are some slight differences depending on whether you have paid for extras, et cetera.

Getting Started

If you haven't already installed WordPress on your web host it can be done fairly easy as most web hosting companies provide a "1 click install option", if not, you can download and install WordPress by following this guide.

Once WordPress is installed on your web host the next step is to login. This is done by entering your domain name followed by /wp-login.php (example http://www.viraltech.co.uk/blog/wp-login.php).

The Dashboard

Once you're logged into your WordPress interface, you'll be presented with a dashboard with a host of options on the left-hand side. When you click on each option from the left-hand side table a description via the central window will be displayed. For example, when you first login "dashboard" will be displayed by default and tell you how many posts you've made, pages created and comments posted, et cetera. You will also see some options on the top toolbar such as the ability to visit your blog, updates that are available or make a new post. The options you see will vary depending on the number of plug-ins you have installed.

WordPress dashboard interface

Posts

This option, as you can probably guess allows you to add and edit posts on your blog.

All Posts

By default, the first option displayed will be "All Posts" If you've already added posts, then these will be displayed in the central window with the ability to edit, quick edit, trash or view each individual one. For example, if you wanted to delete a post, simply put a tick in the box and select "trash". This then gets moved to the trash bin, but can also be restored unless you permanently delete it.

Viewing your post within WordPress

Add New

Add new allows you to add new post to your blog. Once you click on the button, you'll be presented with a page that allows you to add a title, blog post subject plus pictures to your blog post. For example, you could give your blog post the title of something like "How to fix a cracked iPad screen" and then write about how you can fix this problem. If you want to add images to your blog post, click on the "Add Media" button. You also get a host of options to customise your text, such as the text size, colour, and the ability to add links, et cetera via the toolbar.

You can also change the "permalink" which is basically the URL of your post. Normally the URL will be your website/the name of your post, but you can change or shorten this if you like via the "edit" option. You can also change the structure of the permalink through the "settings" option.

Adding a new post within WordPress
There are several options on the right-hand side that include: publish, format, categories, tags, and featured image.

Publish allows you to publish, preview or save your post as a draft. Once you're happy and your post is complete, you can publish it and it will be displayed on your blog immediately. Or if you want your post posted on a certain date, you can also choose this option.

Format basically allows you to tell readers whether it's a standard, audio or picture post, et cetera. Standard is fine in most cases.

Categories allows you to categorise your blog post. For example, if you write a blog post about laptops, then it's a good idea to create a laptop category. You do this by selecting "+ Add New Category". Once you add categories these can be displayed on your your blog, which allows readers to find all blog posts in the same category. If you don't create any categories, your post will be uncategorised by default.

Tags basically allows you to add tags that are related to your blog post. For example, if it's about Windows 10, then add the tag Windows 10 which then gets displayed with your blog post (depending on the theme). This then allows readers to find other post that have the Windows 10 tag inserted.

Featured image as the name suggests, allows you to add a featured image to your blog post.

Publish a post options within WordPress

Categories allows you to add and edit categories. As previously mentioned, this can be done via the "add new post" option, but if you need to edit or add new ones, you can do so in this section. This also applies to tags.

Choosing the appropriate category option for your post within WordPress

Media

Media lists all the media files you've uploaded, such as pictures or audio files from your computer, et cetera.  Normally, media files are uploaded via the post option, but can also be individually added or edited here as well.

Library

Media library displays each individual media file you've uploaded to your blog. You can edit or delete each file by clicking on them individually. You can also add new media files by clicking on the "Add New" button at the top.Media library option within WordPress

Add New

Allows you to add new files with a drag-and-drop or traditional upload system. For example, you can simply drag a picture from your picture folder on your computer to this page.

Adding new media within WordPress

Pages

Option to add pages to your blog rather than posts. For example, you can add an about page or contact page in this section.

All Pages

Shows a list of the pages you've added with the ability to edit or delete them. Also shows the date when the page or pages were published.

Adding individual pages within WordPress

Add New

Allows you to add new individual pages.

Add a new page within WordPress

Comments

Shows a list of comments that have been made on individual blog posts. If comments don't require manual approval they will be posted automatically or moved to the spam folder if they are detected as spam. It's a good idea to have a plug-in, such as Akismet, which will block the vast majority of spam comments. You can also reply to, mark as spam or remove any individual comments in this section.

Comments page within WordPress

Appearance

Appearance gives you the option to choose and customise your blog theme.

Themes

Allows you to choose from thousands of free and paid blog themes. To choose or add a new theme click on the "Add New" button at the top of the page. Featured, popular and latest themes can be selected from the top toolbar or you can use the "feature filter" to search for a particular theme. You can also upload a theme from your computer. Each theme will have a different layout and different options.

Choosing a theme option within WordPress
Customise

Customise allows you to customise your blog, but the customise options will totally depend on the theme you have chosen. For example, you can usually change your blog name, add a image header, add menus and change colours, et cetera in this section.

Customise your theme within WordPress

Widgets

Widgets allows you to add a host of options to your blog such as a search box, recent posts, categories and pages, et cetera. You can also add text and HTML code in this section. Widgets are usually displayed on the left, right or bottom sidebar of your blog, but will depend on individual themes. You add widgets by choosing the available ones and dragging them to the appropriate sidebar.

Widgets option within WordPress

Menus

Allows you to add menus. For example, you could create a menu and then add things like your contact, about page or even posts or tags and have them displayed in a certain position on your blog. The position of menus will depend on each individual theme.

Adding menus option within WordPress

Editor

Editor allows you to edit the code of your theme. This option is best left alone unless you know what you're doing.

Editor option within WordPress

Plugins

Plug-ins give your blog added features. For example, you can choose to add plug-ins such as, Akismet, which will block spam comments or BackWPup, which will backup your blog. There are literally thousands of plug-ins available as both free and paid options.

Installed Plugins

Shows a list of installed plug-ins you have added to your blog. You can access settings, deactivate or delete plug-ins in this section. You can also add new plug-ins by clicking on the "Add New" button at the top of the page.

Plugins interface within WordPress

Add New

Allows you to add new plug-ins with featured, popular or recommended plug-ins displayed at the top of the page. You can also search or upload plug-ins from your computer on this page.

Adding a new plugin within WordPress

Editor

This option allows you to edit the code of your plug-ins. You should only edit the code if you 100% know what you are doing.

Edit plugins option within WordPress

Users

Users allows you to add other individuals that can access and contribute to your blog. For example, I'm the only contributed to the Viral Tech blog, but I could add another user who can then login with a username and password.

All Users

All users shows you a list of current users that have access to your blog. Things such as the username, email address and role will be displayed here.

Users interface within WordPress

Add New

Allows you to add a new user. Options include username (required), email (required) and password et cetera. There are also options to add a real name and website.

Adding a new user to edit WordPress

Your Profile

This option allows you to add extra details to your profile. For example, you can add biographical information and a picture profile in this section. You can also change the admin colour scheme.

Editing your profile within WordPress

Tools

Tools allows you to add extra tools your blog, such as "Press This" and the ability to import and export your blog.

Import

Import gives you a host of options to import a blog that is hosted on another blogging platform. For example, it supports popular blogging sites such as Blogger, Blogroll, LiveJournal, and Tumblr, et cetera. Everything including your blog posts and images should be imported, though, since your blog will be displayed on a different theme, it will need some tweaking to look right.

Import interface within WordPress

Export

Export gives you the option to export your blogs contents to an XML file. This can then be uploaded to a WordPress or other blogging platform that supports WordPress. Be warned, this isn't a method of backing up your blog contents or database in case something goes wrong or if you need to transfer your site to a new host, et cetera. You should use a plug-in such as BackWPup to backup or transfer your blog to a new web hosting company.

Export interface within WordPress

Settings

Settings gives you a host of options that include the ability to change your site address (URL), how many posts should be displayed on one page, blog discussion settings and the ability to change your URL structure, et cetera.

General

This option allows you to change or add a site title, tagline, or even change your site address. You can also choose date format, time format and change your email for admin purposes.

Settings interface within WordPress

Writing

Offers basic settings, such as what your default post category is, but also allows you to set up the ability to post to your WordPress blog via email.

Writing settings within WordPress

Reading

Allows you to choose to display your latest post or create a static front page. You can also choose how many blog posts you want displayed on one page and whether to show full text or a summary on your blog feed. You can also discourage search engines from indexing your site from this page, though it's up to search engines to honour this request.

Reading settings within WordPress

Discussion

Gives you options regarding comments made on your blog. For example, you can choose whether comments need to be manually approved or whether users must be registered and logged in to leave a comment on your blog. You can also choose to close comments after a certain amount of days (example 14 days) or include forbidden words which, if used, will require manual approval or end up in the trash bin.

Discussion settings within WordPress

Media

Allows you to specify the size of images, et cetera. Choosing image sizes can also be performed when adding a post.

Media settings within WordPress

Permalink

Permalink allows you to customise your URL structure. For example, there are 6 current structures available that include, plain, day and name, month and name, numeric, post name and custom structure.

You will see an example of each custom structure on this page. It's recommended that you don't change your URL structure, once your site has become established as this could have a negative effect on search engine ranking.

The most popular and useful URL structure is "post name" which displays your website URL, followed by the actual name of the post.

Permalink settings within WordPress
That pretty much sums up the features that WordPress has to offer. Remember, extra options will be available depending on which plug-ins you have installed.