WordPress Basics for Beginners in 2019 and Beyond
WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world and hosts almost one in three active websites on the internet. From its origins as a pure blogging platform in 2003, WordPress now offers a sophisticated, but user-friendly, way for people to create and manage websites and their content.
In this feature, we take a look at some of the basics of using WordPress for beginners including pages, posts and plugins.
There are plenty of companies that offer WordPress hosting, some of which we have used and can confidently recommend are Guru, tsoHost and Simple Servers. In our experience, LiteSpeed hosting is always preferable for performance reasons and we would normally recommend a dedicated or virtual dedicated hosting option over shared for enhanced security. The other option is to register directly with WordPress.com or WordPress.org; the former is the company’s own hosting platform whilst the latter simply allows you to download the software and install this to your own servers.
The choice of how you want to host your site and whether you want this to be managed will come down to factors such as security, cost and time.
The benefits of having a managed WordPress site mean that the host company will automatically update software for your website and provide you with reports when there are things that need addressing. However, managed hosting doesn’t always give you the same degree of flexibility or security that self-hosting can provide.
All WordPress sites, no matter how or where they are hosted all share a common dashboard.
When you first log in, this screen gives you an at-a-glance overview of all the pages, posts and plugins on your website along with important information on settings, tools and users.
This is where you will manage comments and other interactions as well as publish your site’s content, manage the media library and undertake important maintenance such as updating plugins and themes.
This makes it an ideal platform for users who have no experience of programming and just want to create a stylish and functional website that offers good SEO management and flexible ways to publish content.
Themes can be changed even once you have started publishing content and most of these will dynamically convert your existing site to the style of your new theme.
Posts vs Pages
As WordPress started life as a blogging platform, some of the same nomenclature has been inherited in the site’s structure.
Pages, quite simply are the permanent parts of your website that largely will remain static e.g. your home page, your contacts page or a page which tells visitors more about your company.
Pages can be tiered so that sub-pages can be found through a parent page. For example, you may have a page called ‘Products’ and under this you could have pages that are sub-categories such as ‘Furniture’, ‘Electricals’ ‘Beauty’ etc. Beneath this, you could further diversify your pages.
On the other hand, posts are treated like news or blog updates and are usually published to one specific page (usually called ‘Blog’ or ‘News’) in chronological order.
Although a summary of each post may appear on one specific page, it is important to note that they are treated as individual pages when it comes to search engine results. In fact, each page will have its own URL address.
Posts can be put into user-defined categories (one or more) to help visitors to your websites search for relevant content.
This can also help you organise your posts on your site to appear in different page locations.
Popular ways to organise your posts with categories include by topic, by location or by product. The choice of category is up to you and the kind of information you want to publish regularly on your website.
Menus, Headers & Sidebars
Your pages can be supplemented either by page or universally across the design of your site with fixed navigation and information panes.
Menus, often displayed at the top and/or bottom of a page, allow users to switch between pages.
Headers and sidebars can serve a number of functions from displaying contact details, search tools or advertising banners to offering ways to share the site content across Social Media.
Another benefit of being an open source system means that WordPress has an active community of designers, programmers and companies who have produced useful tools that can be bolted on to your website and which deliver specific functionality.
These are called plugins and range from those that offer contact forms (e.g. MailMunch) and image sliders (e.g. Soliloquy) to security enhancements (e.g. All In One WP Security & Firewall), speed optimisation (e.g. W3 Total Cache) and SEO management (e.g. Yoast).
WordPress has over 50,000 plugins available to be used with its software and each comes with a user review rating to help you decide whether they are suitable. WordPress even tells you before you install and activate a plugin whether it is compatible with the theme you are running.
Opace & WordPress
Opace is an innovative web design agency based in Birmingham that has experience in providing clients with creative and responsive WordPress sites. As well as offering full design services, we can also fully manage everything from security updates and theme upgrades to the creation, publication and marketing of content.