Now What?You’ve just completed the 5 Minute Installation of WordPress or one-click install from yourweb host. Now what? Let’s take a step-by-step tour through your WordPress site and see how the different functions work and how to make your new site your own. During the first part of this tutorial, please don’t change anything within the program unless it is part of the tutorial. After following these steps, you’ll soon be changing everything.
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Test Drive Your WordPress Site
It’s All in the DetailsTake time to notice the smaller details of this web page layout and design. Move your mouse over the title of the article post. Notice how it changes color. This is called a hover. Most Themes feature a distinctive color or underline when you move your mouse over a link. Move your mouse over any of the links in the sidebar. Do they change? Is the change the same? You can change your link hovers to look different in different sections of your page. Also look at the color of the links. How are they colored or underlined to stand out from the rest of the text? Observe the small design details and where they are placed within the page. In the near future, you may want to change some of these details, such as the color of the title in the white box at the top of the page. If you remember that is called the header then you will know to look within the header section of your style sheet, the file that controls the look of your web page, when you want to make changes to it.
Take a Quick Trip AroundFor now you only have one post. It is residing within a page that is laid out as your home page or the front page. If you click on the title of the post, it will take you to the specific page for that post. The first page or home page of your site features the most recent posts on your site. Each post title will link to the actual page of the post. Some Theme designers design their single post pages to look different from the home page. By clicking on the title, you are taken to another web page that looks different from the home page. Again, in the single post, pay attention to the layout and notice what is now different about the design elements. Is the header different? Smaller, larger, or a different color? Is there a sidebar? Posts are usually stored in Categories and/or Tags so you can keep related topics together. Right now you only have one category, but will soon want more. Click on the single category that appears in the sidebar of the home page. You are now in a page that has been generated to display only the posts within that category. Again, take a look at the layout and see how it may be different from the home page and the single post. Do the same with the Archives. You may only have one post, but look at how the pages are laid out. They may or may not change, but look at all of it to see how it all works. All of these changes are created from only a few files called template files and you can learn more about how they work in Stepping Into Templates. For now, however, let’s get on with how the rest of WordPress works.
Test Drive the WordPress Administration Screens
WordPress Admin Dashboard
User Profile Screen
Quick Changing the Look
The Appearance Screen
Writing and Managing Posts
Add New Post Screen
Planning SessionAll good websites come from a good plan. Sounds redundant, but it’s true. If you want to create a good and solid website, you need a good and solid plan. I know it’s hard to do, and I know you want to keep poking and playing with this exciting program, but it is time to take a break away from your computer and turn to the old paper and pen. That’s right, we’re going back in time to when people actually wrote things down. On a piece of notebook paper, or whatever is lying around, describe your site. Take five to twenty minutes to come up with a purpose for your site, or better yet, call it your Mission Statement. Answer the following questions:
- What am I going to do with this?
- Who is going to read this?
- What kinds of information will I be posting?
- Why am I doing this?
- Who am I doing this for?
- How often am I going to be posting and adding information?
This website will be dedicated to X, Y, and Z,and cover the topics of A, B, and C. The audience will be __________ ________________ _______. I will be adding posts every _____________ about ________ _______ ______________. I am doing this because _____________ _____________ __________________.
Using the InformationFrom this exercise, we’ve gathered a lot of information. We’ve uncovered information on how you might layout and design your site. If you know your audience is mostly made up of young people under the age of 25, you will probably want a fashionable look ranging from wild colors and crazy graphics to dark foreboding tones. Something appropriate for that generation. If you are providing factual information about a serious subject, then you will probably want a more conservative look where the information is more important than a lot of pop and flash. You may already have a design idea in mind, or perhaps you will be copying over from your previous site, but take a moment to use this information to reconsider your design, and to see how what you want will work with the WordPress options. You have also uncovered the possible categories for your site. The topics and subjects you will be covering are listed in your purpose statement. Let’s say your purpose statement said,
- “The website will be dedicated to providing news and information on computers, web pages, and the internet and cover the topics of computer tips, web page design, and internet news.”
What Information Do You Want to ShareAs you think about what information the user will need to know, you have to consider what information you are willing to share with them. That information may include how to contact you, what the purpose of the site is, who you are, and what your expertise is. A WordPress feature called Pages makes the process of presenting this information easier. Pages, similar to posts, are most commonly used to present unchanging information such as About Us, Contact Us, Sign Up for Our Mailing List, and other staticinformation. Before creating your individual Pages, you need to think about what information you would like the Page to hold. Write down the possible Page titles and describe the information you are willing to share online on each Page.
CommentsPart of the fun of WordPress is the ability to have viewers leave comments on your site. It creates a dynamic interchange between you and the viewer. Do you want comments on your posts? Comments on posts come in a variety of forms, from pats on the back(Good job! Like the post!) to extensive conversations and commentary about the posts. Or maybe you are seeking comments that add to the information you’ve posted. Responding to comments and moderating them can also take up a lot of time. If they are critical to your site, then include them and consider how you want them presented. Go back to your test site; the first post created at the time of installation includes a sample comment. You can even make a few comments yourself on the posts you created. Take a look at how they are laid out and consider how you might want them to look to fit into the design and layout of your site. When you have reached your decision about how you want to handle comments, take time to read through the article on comments and WordPress discussion options to help you set those features. With this basic information, you are ready to return to your computer and start laying out your site and setting it up.
Setting Up Your SiteBefore you get to the graphic look of your site, let’s do a little more administration to your site to set it up. Consider making your first plugin installation the Enhanced Admin Bar with Codex Search. It allows you to search both the WordPress Codex and WordPress Support Forum from your WordPress Administration Screens. Click on one of the search results and the page will open in a new window or tab so you can have the article or discussion open while working on WordPress. This will make your transition to WordPress a much gentler one with information right at your fingertips. You can also work from this page by clicking on a link with a Right Click and opening the documents in a new window or tab, so you can read along as you work on your site. You may also want to install plugins such as Jetpack by WordPress.com to supercharge your website, and don’t forget to activate theAkismet WordPress Plugin that is available with all WordPress sites to help protect it from comment spam. But now, let’s start with making those categories you wrote down before.
Create CategoriesIn the Posts > Categories tab, in the Add New Category area, fill in the information about your category. Continue to add your parentcategories, going down the list. Hold off on entering subcategories until all the main categories are entered.
- NOTE: You can add any new categories at any time, but make a note of the fact that categories can be sorted in WordPress in two ways: by name (alphabetically) or by ID number. As you enter the categories, they are assigned an ID number. It is difficult to change this, so if you don’t want your categories sorted alphabetically, enter them in the order you want to see them presented on the screen.
WordPress Admin Categories
- – Windows
- – Linux
- – Mac
- – Web Standards
- – WordPress
- – – Plugins
- – – Themes
Put Posts in CategoriesLet’s put some of your test posts into categories so you can see how this works.
WordPress Admin Posts
Preventing SpamThere is more to think about when it comes to having comments on your site. Unfortunately we live in a world where spam is a fact of life. It is recommended that you begin battling the comment spammers with the helpful article, Introduction to Dealing with Comment Spam.
What Is NextYou’ve now done all the basics for your new WordPress website. You know how to write a post, create a category, and how to view your site’s information by category and archive. You can start the customization process, and when you are done, don’t forget to delete your test posts! Then start writing some wonderful information to share with your new-found public!
Customizing Your WordPress SiteOnce you are familiar with how WordPress works, it’s time to get creative and start customizing. The tutorial now splits into different subjects that require no order. From here on you can do whatever you want, adding and subtracting, perfecting and scrambling your site at will. The amount of effort you put into the site is now up to you. You can work with the two WordPress Themes that came with the installation, or seek out another Theme that better meets your needs. Or you can create your own Child Theme. You can totally customize all the links and information, or get serious and completely re-design the entire site to do whatever you want. You have the basics, the rest is up to your imagination.
- Finding a WordPress Theme
- Look for one that better suits the look you desire on your site.
- Customizing the Look
- When you are ready to plunge into the code, you can customize the look and layout of your site through CSS and modifying the Themes (or create your own). If your customizing goals are not seriously extensive, a good bet would be to develop your own Child Theme. A minimal Child Theme is a fairly simple project if you have a little coding experience.
- Enhance Your Site with Plugins
- Plugins add function and sometimes fun to your site. There are hundreds of different plugins from adding custom links like related articles to your sidebar to adding weather reports. Just like Child Themes are an easy way to customize the look of your site, with a bit of coding experience, your own minimal Plugin is an easy way to change how your site works.
WordPress ThemesThere are hundreds of WordPress Themes to choose from. All do basically the same thing but graphically present the information in a myriad of ways. Choose a few that look interesting to you, and meet your audience’s needs and your desires, and then test drive them following the test drive instructions above. Click through the whole site, the categories and archives as well as the individual posts to see how the Theme handles each one. The look may be nice on the front page, but if it handles things in a way you don’t like on the single post, then you will have to dig into the code and make changes. Not ready for that, try another theme. If you run into problems, check out the Codex’s Troubleshooting Themes article.
Customizing The LookIf you are familiar with CSS, HTML, and even PHP and MySQL, consider either customizing the Theme to your own needs, or creating your own Child Theme. This is not for the timid, this is for the informed and experienced. That said, a Child Theme is an easy, safe way to tinker under the hood/bonnet of WordPress. If things go badly with your customizations, simply activate an approved, unmodified theme and your site is up and running and looking perfectly again. If you want to expand your website design and development skills, the Codex can help:
- WordPress Theme Directory
- Using Themes
- Theme Development
- Child Themes
- Stepping Into Templates
- Templates Files
- Blog Design and Layout
- CSS Overview, Tips, Techniques, and Resources
- FAQ – WordPress Layout
- Stepping Into Template Tags
- Template Tags
- CSS Troubleshooting
- CSS Fixing Browser Bugs
- WordPress Plugin Directory
- Managing Plugins
Customizing How It WorksIf you are familiar with PHP, HTML, and maybe even MySQL, you may be able to customize WordPress to work the way you want. Again this is not for the timid, this is for the informed and experienced. And again, a simple basic Plugin is an easy, safe way to tinker under the hood/bonnet of WordPress. If things go badly with your customizations, simply deactivate your balky Plugin and your site is up and running perfectly again. If you want to expand your website development skills, the Codex can help:
- Writing a Plugin
- Plugin API
- Plugin Resources
Above and Beyond the BasicsThe exciting thing about WordPress is that there are few limits. Thousands of people are using WordPress for blogging and for running their websites. For example, look at some of the entries under the WordPress.org Theme Showcase. All have a different look and different functions on their sites. What you do from here is up to you, but here are a few places to take that first step beyond the basics:
- WordPress Features
- Working with_WordPress
- WordPress Semantics
- Using Pages
- Understanding the WordPress Loop
- Using Permalinks
- Press It – Post to your site from the web instantly!
Getting More Help
- Codex Main Page
- FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
- Getting More Help
- Using the Support Forums
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