Introduction to WordPress Summary – Day 1
This article is primarily for my current and former students of my Introduction to WordPress classes. We cover a lot of information in class and I would like to offer this recap to help you understand and become familiar with WordPress. Below you will find some quick summaries of the information and topics we covered on the first night in the Introduction to WordPress class.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is open source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app. Currently 34% of the web uses WordPress, from hobby blogs to the biggest news sites online.
WordPress Features Include
- Customizable Designs
- SEO Friendly
- Responsive Mobile Sites
- High Performance
- High Security
- Easy Support
- Thousands of Themes and Plugins to Extend Functionality
Where should I host my Site?
You have several options to host a website using WordPress. You can host with wordpress.com or you can download the software from wordpress.org and install it on your current hosting plan or development server.
There are also many reputable hosting companies that offer very specialized and optimized hosting packages that focus on WordPress Websites. Current recommended hosting companies for WordPress include BlueHost, DreamHost, Siteground as well others such as GoDaddy. For more information see this link directly from WordPress.org
How to Update WordPress
If you have purchased a fully managed hosting plan, WordPress and its plugins and themes may get automatically updated for you and you normally do not have to worry about this step. However, it is not uncommon for an automatic update to fail and render the entire site unavailable until fixed. If you are using a lower cost plan you may have the ability to run updates yourself. As I mentioned in class I generally prefer to update plugins and themes myself. If\when an update fails I know exactly where to start looking to fix the issue. I have also created a separate article on how to update plugins.
What are the differences between Pages and Posts?
Below are the descriptions directly from WordPress that may help to simply the difference between pages and posts.
Posts are entries listed in reverse chronological order on the blog home page or on the posts page if you have set one in Customize → Homepage Settings. If you have created any sticky posts, those will appear before the other posts. Posts can be found in the Archives, Categories, Recent Posts, and other widgets. Posts are also displayed in the RSS feed of the blog. You can control how many posts are displayed at a time in the Reading Settings.
Pages are static and are not listed by date. They generally do not use tags. An About page is the classic example. Pages can be displayed in the sidebar using the Pages widget, and some themes display pages in tabs at the top of the blog. If you have 50 pages and you use the Pages widget, then all pages will be listed all the time.
What is Media related to WordPress?
In class we discussed that media does not just include pictures. It can includes files types such as sound files, movies files, zip files, Excel or Word Docs, software executable’s and many others. These files can come from your own creations as well as online. Please do not steal images and other files online. This is frowned upon. There are many sites that offer royalty free images at no cost.
I have also put together a list of several very helpful WordPress resources including image sites and performance scanners that will help you build your website.
What are Themes and Plugins?
A theme in WordPress is collection of files, templates, and stylesheets designed to make your website look a certain way. You can customize your theme within the WordPress Dashboard. There are may great themes to choose from. Some are free and others are paid. Some things to consider when choosing a theme include if it is responsive, if it will work with your page builder, and if it is a theme designed to be small and fast.
Plugins are additional packages of software\code pages that can be installed to add a feature or functionality that did not come with the core WordPress download. An example could be a backup plugin that can periodically take a copy of your website and send it to a cloud storage location. There is no set amount of plugins that are “too many” but I find that if the number is 20 or less sites usually do not have a problem. Of course there are always chances that some plugins to not play well with others so always test thoroughly before making your site live.
You can download Themes and Plugins directly from within the Dashboard. There are also many websites that sell specialized themes and plugins however, in this class we are only going to use free plugins for our test sites.
Both Themes and Plugins generally receive periodic updates to fix bugs and patch security issues. It is a very good idea to keep these up to date.
What is responsive design?
As I mentioned in class, more website traffic (sometimes over 50%) is coming from smaller mobile devices like phone and tables. Responsive themes will automatically adjust your content for these smaller sizes so your site is view-able on small screens.
Class 1 WordPress Summary
We talked about some other topics in class as well but this should be a good summary. In the upcoming classes we will be using this information to create our test sites. Please post any comments or questions below. Students may also email me directly.