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What are the points to deepen the functions offered by WordPress? Here you will find an introductory guide to better face the world of blogging.
WordPress is the CMS (content management system) most used to create a blog and website. Sometimes it is also used to open eCommerce and small portals. This is because it combines simplicity and versatility in creating entire content structures. But this statement is not mine.
More than 27 million websites currently use WordPress to publish text content, videos, and images. Not all of them are simple blogs, there are portals like Canva or Linux that go much further. And you probably want to start with this CMS too.
But how? From where? Here is a step by step guide to get started with WordPress. I have thought of this content just for those who are looking for basic information and want to open a blog or a personal website. Without forgetting the needs of those who want to present their business online.
What is WordPress, what is it for?
It is a platform designed to create blogs. Over time it has evolved and has taken the form of a real CMS suitable for different projects ranging from the single-page website, style landing page to the portal also capable of presenting itself as a small eCommerce.
WordPress was born in 2003 thanks to the efforts of Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. It develops from the code of a previous platform known as b2/catalog. Each version, except the first, has the name of a famous jazz player: the first is dedicated to Miles Davis, the 5.4 to Julian Adderley.
Not surprisingly, as soon as you activate WordPress you find a plugin called Hello Dolly, the name of a Louis Armstrong song. If you activate it, a piece of the text will be displayed. Obviously, it is completely useless and should be deleted.
Basic Development and Characteristics
WordPress is developed with PHP, a programming language for dynamic pages. This allows the CMS to present itself as a solution to differentiate itself from websites with static pages.
What does this mean?
Thanks to this feature, a website created with WordPress can present a different page based on user requests. This CMS uses a MySQL database and is published under the GNU General Public License. It is free to download and is open-source software.
Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
You may have already heard of this divergence. On the other hand, just do a quick Google search to find that there are two official sites of this platform. In reality, this is not the case, we are talking about worlds that are based on the same idea. But they are profoundly different in the results.
This is the website (wordpress.org) from which to download the original CMS. You have a ton of resources to exploit on this portal, you can read the tutorials and find the plugins you need to customize your project. In summary, if you want to get off to a great start you have to use this solution.
Also because in this way you can make the most of the advantages of a CMS that has great potential in terms of optimization SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and UX.
This is a free blogging service, which was born thanks to the foresight of Matt Mullenweg, based on the same CMS. However, it allows you to create an online diary immediately. Without installation or purchase hosting. Five minutes and you're online but you don't own the site.
This means that everything you do on this portal will always be tied to ownership. You start with a third level domain and significant limitations in terms of customization. Everything is easier but it is not the best to create quality, professional, and completely independent projects.
Is WordPress just for blogging?
No. You can create different types of websites with this content management system. But there are limits that depend on technical characteristics.
Purist webmasters come to say that WordPress is not 100% CMS but comes close to the definition of blogging software. In reality, it is so, WordPress was born for this and its structure confirms. It has categories, a home page with posts, publication dates, and tags.
But with the spread of the platform on a large scale and the spread of many plugins (extensions that are added to the CMS to customize it) today it is possible to think of this reality as a solution suitable for different ideas.
Not at all. Clearly, if you want to create an eCommerce with thousands of product sheets and hundreds of categories, perhaps with a number of filters that are difficult to manage, you have to look elsewhere. Maybe towards Magento. And if you need an institutional portal there is Joomla.
Or you can choose Drupal. But it also diverts different resources to your side. Customizing one of these CMS is different, much more difficult than in WordPress. Which is perfect for blogging but also for creating websites that are beautiful to look at, easy to use, and to place on Google.
How to install WordPress
Many prefer to use the free version to avoid this step. because you have to interact with servers, FTP, administration files, and other gadgets. The risk of ending up with a blank page on the browser, instead of the site it is real and scares those who do not have much experience.
But it can be solved. How? There is a simplified procedure to activate WordPress without any particular technicalities and difficulties, but first, let's take a look at the requests necessary to open a blog.
Essential Requirements to get Started
Before listing the procedures and techniques to install WordPress and start blogging you need to consider the basics:
The CMS, namely WordPress.
A quality hosting.
A reference domain.
While the content management system is free, downloadable from this link, hosting is a service that must be purchased from an IT provider. This means making a small investment to have a WordPress hosting with some features:
These solutions - together with the basic requirements such as PHP 7.3, MySQL 5.6 or higher, Apache webserver - are essential to have a fast hosting that can also give speed to the website. Which is an essential SEO positioning factor also for the user experience.
There are no special requirements for the domain. Remember, however, to purchase an SSL certificate to have HTTPS enabled. Or you can use the basic solution which should already be included in the hosting.
I'm talking about Let's Encrypt, more than enough for a personal or corporate blog. Become scarce or inadequate with portals and eCommerce.
Hosting with Pre-installed WordPress
The simplest solution ever? You buy hosting with WordPress pre-installed. This makes it easy to activate your project. Just go to cPanel, in the web application section.
Click on the WordPress icon and choose the parameters. Just a few clicks are enough to start working independently and without particular complications. Do you prefer to proceed differently? Do you have specific needs to respect and cannot take shortcuts? Here's how to install WordPress.
How to upload WordPress to the server
While it may seem painful and complex, manually installing WordPress on your newly purchased hosting is straightforward. Actually just doing it the first time to understand exactly how it works. What is the procedure to follow? Here's what you need to do.
Go to wordpress.org/download and download the file
Extract the zipped file to your computer desktop
Open the folder and find the wp-config-sample.php file
Rename this document wp-config.php
Open the file by entering the database entries:
Name of the database
Not sure where this data is? No problem, the provider provides them to you when you buy hosting and create a database.
The service assistance can help you directly in these operations. Once you have finished editing the wp-config file, open your FTP program, connect it to your hosting space with the data provided by the provider and upload the folder to the root, i.e. to the main folder.
At this point, the browser, typing the address of the website you registered, should respond positively and return the final product. That is an immature blog that needs to be improved and completed.
What to do before publishing
Your site is online but nobody knows it, this is a point that you can use in your favor. How? Simple, to manage a series of fundamental aspects for the future of your online project. Eg:
Manage Permalink Structure
Here you have to work in order to decide what the shape of yours will be URL, especially the part that follows the main domain. When you publish an article you can define the permalink which is also a useful element for on-page SEO. But here you can decide the structure.
If you go to the settings and then to the permalink you can decide whether to use the identification code (worst solution) or other combinations.
One can suggest working with category and title, it is useful to describe the content in the best possible way. Warning, this work must be done before posting, otherwise, you risk creating 404 not found errors.
Sign up for the Search Console
The fundamental operation to optimize the WordPress website (but not only) and to have the necessary information available to start a project. By subscribing to your blog to the Search Console you have an advantage: you can suggest the sitemap.xml to Google with the URLs of your pages.
By activating a dedicated plugin, or a function of a generic suite such as WordPress SEO. By Yoast, you can generate a sitemap file that indicates all the resources to the search engine with relative updates: an essential operation before starting to publish your content.
Do the same with Google Analytics
Always before starting your WordPress adventure, remember to insert the Google Analytics code in the <head> field.
This allows you to record your progress in terms of visits and understand how users behave on the site, for example by monitoring how long they stay, where they go, and which web pages are most visited.
Make the site visible on Google
A detail that often escapes and risks doing damage. From the WordPress dashboard go to the reading section and make sure there is no check on the option "Discourage search engines from indexing this site". If this section is signed you risk being invisible on Google.
Create a Navigation Menu
Before you start posting you need a top bar that can suggest static pages and blog categories. You can work around this by going to the dashboard and then to the Appearance section.
Here you have an item dedicated to the menu. Create your navigation with drag and drop, insert the pages you want to highlight, and organize them by dragging the various elements into the space available. Keep in mind one point: don't overdo the menu items, make navigation simple.
Navigating a website is essential to help visitors find content quickly. It can also help search engines understand which content is considered important by the webmaster.
WordPress Themes and Plugins
Now we need to move on to customizing everything we've done. You need to put a face on the website or blog and this can be done by changing the template. At the same time, you need new features. Both for SEO optimization and to satisfy the user.
For this, there are plugins, extensions that you find in the official directory (but not only), and that allows you to enrich the work you have in mind.
What to know about these realities? You need to clarify one point: your choices influence the final result. A template can communicate who you are and what you do, but it also has the power to improve the user experience. The same goes for plugins. They are numerous and useful, but also dangerous for your site.
Themes give a graphic look to your editorial project and allow you to add or remove some features. For example, you can choose an essential theme to have a mini landing page style site, or you can create a blog similar to an online magazine. Another solution?
You can have an institutional portal that also allows you to sell online. All this can also be managed by choosing the right template. To achieve a good result you can choose the theme you prefer from the official directory, where the themes are free.
There are also services like Theme forest that offer an endless amount of paid solutions that cater to virtually every need.
There are thousands of extensions available for WordPress, even in this case you have a section of the WordPress portal dedicated to these elements. What exactly are they? Plugins have the task of completing the functionality of the CMS with functions not present. For example, you can:
Optimize SEO (Yoast, All in One SEO Pack).
Speed up the site (WP Rocket, Smush Image).
Fighting spam (Akismet, Recaptcha).
Activate a contact form (Contact Form 7).
Create landing pages (Elementor).
The solutions are endless, but it is good to know that the presence of so many plugins risks burdening the loading of web pages. The speed of running a site on the browser is an important factor.
It has value both in terms of usability and user experience and for SEO positioning. Even if WordPress starts from a quality base, the risk is to add so many plugins to the point of slowing down resources.
The ideal is to add plugins only when there is no other way around. For example by modifying the code, perhaps with the help of a webmaster.
Guide to using WordPress
Now that we understand how to install WordPress and which solution to choose in terms of hosting, it is right to face the first steps to write and publish content. Because this is what the CMS presented in this article is for: managing content in the best possible way. What do you need to know to get started?
Articles and pages
The first point to address in the work of publishing content on your blog or website: the difference between static posts and pages. The latter is used to publish institutional content, with a universal value over time. For example, as a static page you can publish sections:
Who I am.
Landing pages, for example, are static pages built in order to maximize the possibility of obtaining useful leads or selling a product. Posts, on the other hand, are updates related to a single topic.
The substantial difference concerns the possibility of having a constantly evolving home page, updated by articles, and a fixed navigation menu with static pages that continue to move and navigate the navigation on the most important resources you offer to your readers.
A point to underline: there is no hierarchy between posts and pages, they are considered web pages and in SEO terms they have a no different value.
On WordPress, you can manage these contents in the same way, simply by going to the menu on the left of the dashboard and clicking on one of the items you are interested in.
This way you can manage the various publications through a list or decide to publish content.
Categories and Posts
What is the focus of this WordPress? It helps you to better address a topic that makes up the general topic of the blog. To succeed in this venture you need to know the importance of taxonomies for your editorial project. The main solutions on WordPress are two:
Categories are containers you need to use to organize posts into topics, while tags are labels that characterize content in an additional level of organization. The latter is not mandatory.
While the categories yes. One can recommend avoiding the unscrupulous creation of tags to avoid duplicates.
Perhaps you have heard about the new editor update of this CMS that bears the name of a great character in history: Gutenberg. In fact, from version 5.0 WordPress abandons the classic control panel based on the similarity with a normal writing sheet.
WordPress now uses a block editor, with forms reminiscent of other editorial experiences. How is this reality used?
In particular, to make the most of the new WordPress editor you have to think in terms of modules. You no longer have a simple page to fill by writing but managing blocks with different functions:
Image with text.
The solutions are numerous and, above all, they can be organized as modules. By dragging or moving the various blocks as you would with a visual composer or page builder designed to create landing pages.
I want to remove WordPress Gutenberg
Can't get used to this solution? Is the new panel to insert articles and pages really impossible to use for your business?
There is a solution: you can disable WordPress Gutenberg and go back to the old editor with some plugins meant for this purpose. A few names:
Avoid such solutions and think about how to improve your activities through the tools made available by this CMS. First, you have to think about the future: Gutenberg will be more and more integrated with the CMS, and sooner or later it will become mandatory.
Furthermore, with a plugin you always create a temporary situation, adding another element to a site that could be cleaner and more performing thanks to the progress made in this direction. So why hesitate?
Here are some Differences between the Plugins
Back-end vs. Front-end
When we talk about the front-end of your website, we usually talk about everything. The front-end of your website includes content (posts, pages, multimedia, and comments), a theme (how everything looks and feels), a menu (usually used to navigate the site), and widgets (depending on whether your theme supports widgets, of course).
Changing the look of your website requires adjusting all of the above elements. Most of these options, however, can be found in the back-end of WordPress settings Appearance.
Which brings us to ...
WordPress back-end has many names. Some people call it/ wp-admin/because that's what it looks like in the address bar. Whatever you call it, most of the site customization tasks are done in the back-end; this is where you create new content, manage users, configure site options.
Admin panel vs. cockpit
You can get to the WordPress admin panel by adding / wp-admin / to the URL. After logging in, you will be transferred to the dashboard. The admin panel is used to manage the website. Here you can create, edit, change the look and settings of the page.
The cockpit includes widgets. These are boxes displaying various content - we can turn them on, off, and change their position using the Display options menu. Plugin and template developers can also add their own widgets.
Theme vs. Template
Confusing a theme with a template is one of the most popular mistakes, even among people who have been using WordPress for years. It's worth knowing the difference because both concepts in WordPress mean something completely different, and the very concept of a template is responsible for one of the most interesting features of WordPress, which many beginners do not know about.
A theme is an extension for WordPress that completely changes its visual layer visible to website readers. The themes are managed in the cockpit in the Appearance> Themes section:
Menu> Appearance> Themes:
On the other hand, the template support is a special WordPress feature that allows us to change the appearance of selected subpages - if we use a theme that has built-in templates, then when editing any subpage in the Page Attributes block, we will see an additional selection list.
One of the old default WordPress themes - Twenty Fourteen. It has two templates for subpages: Full-width page and Collaborator page. Thanks to this, it was possible to change the appearance of the subpage without modifying the theme code.
The easiest way to remember the title difference is this way: Themes are extensions that change the look of a WordPress-based website, and templates are a theme feature that allows you to create additional styles for selected subpages.
Plug vs. widget
The plugin is responsible for additional functionalities of WordPress-based websites. An example can be a contact form, a slider with photos, or the functionality of an online store. Plugs can apparently be very small or very large.
Widgets are an important part of most WordPress sites. These small independent interface elements are used to perform a specific function, e.g. search on a page, displaying a calendar of changes, tag clouds, or Facebook comments. Once their place was only the side panel, today they can be used practically anywhere on the page with a properly adapted theme. Most importantly, you don't need to be able to program to use them.
What you should know about widgets:
You always have the option to insert new boxes in your sidebar - this is the basic functionality of WordPress
Some themes have more spaces (e.g. footers) where you can insert widgets
Some plugins - most often the more complex ones - also carry specific widgets that you can use in the sidebar
Font vs. font
The font is a metal block of a cuboid with a raised letter on it. The set of all fonts, i.e. letters, and the entire typesetting material, which also includes justification spaces, can be found in the printing box. The whole set of fonts of different sizes with the typesetting material constitute the typeface of a given letter.
A font is a digital form of a script with information about individual letters and characters of a given typeface saved in bitmap or vector form. For this reason, every computer user uses the digital form of writing, because metal blocks can not be found anywhere on the computer
Entry vs. page
Pages are hierarchical, meaning that each page has or is a parent. By means of an optional marker, you can arrange the order of pages relative to each other, if this is not done, the pages will be displayed in alphabetical order.
By default, pages don't have trailers, tagging, or categories, and they don't appear in the RSS feed.
Entries can be grouped into multiple categories and tagged with multiple tags. Entries have a "Format" attribute that defines the type of entry so that the skin used knows how to display the entry.
By default, entries belong to one category and are compiled in different "lists", one under the other arranged chronologically. Entries do not have a child-parent mechanism but can be attached to different branches of the information tree using categories.
We can tell a lot about the attractiveness of various website development platforms, but the fact remains: WordPress is the most popular CMS right now. This fact is confirmed by the choice of clients and the experience of partners.
There are obvious reasons to choose WP as your commercial or news website foundation: first, a completely free and simple work platform. Second, fast content placement. WordPress includes Word tags, so just copy the finished text into the add post box. Third, WordPress installs in 5 minutes and offers a wide selection of different plugins.
And finally, one of the most important and fun reasons for choosing WordPress is that WordPress has all the features necessary for successful search promotion. In addition to the promotional tools integrated into this CMS, there are many additional plugins that make the webmaster's job a fun pastime.