Are you one of those who got very excited with the idea of building up a WordPress site, and actually built it up but now you have no idea of how to go about it, what to do, what not to do – basically, completely lost! All you have is your dashboard in front of you and now you don’t know anything. You might not even know what dashboard is, but that’s fine, as everything is about to get clear.
This tutorial is specifically for beginners, who are struggling with the whole WordPress dynamics, therefore we will take things from scratch. Starting off with what is Dashboard, moving on to few steps to set up your personalized site, and then differentiating between pages and posts and explaining how to make then.
Before We begin
You will need your log-in details for your WordPress site.
In this tutorial, we will be learning:
- Introducing the Dashboard
- Some basic general settings
- Mapping out your site structure
- Understanding posts and pages (different content types)
- Creating a page
- Creating a post
- Setting static pages for home and blog pages
Introducing The Dashboard
Dashboard will be the main page which you will see when you log into your website. This is because WordPress automatically redirects you to this page, as this is the main page from where you will be managing your site. Soon you will see and get used to of the ways to manage content, etc. Another thing that you will soon realize in WordPress is that there are many ways to get around, to get to the same places, to run the same function, so stick with whatever makes you comfortable. Now that you know the purpose of Dashboard, let us now move forward to describing the different functions in there.
The Admin Bar is found at the top most part of the page and just like the rest of the WordPress, whatever content is found in this bar is mostly context sensitive, meaning that it changes depending upon your location in the WordPress. For example in the picture below, we happen to be in the Dashboard and you can see by going through the links in the admin bar as to what locations you can have access to.
- The WordPress logo helps you to see the helpful links (Refer to: Fig. 2).
- You can see the published version of your site through the site title, which happens to be “My New Website” in here.
- For comment management
- You could create new content or user
- It’s for your own self-management as a user, you could edit your profile and log out.
I am sure you are more interested in getting your site ready to go, rather than simply learning WordPress settings and how to go about it. Right? Well, we are just going to do that. Therefore be ready as it’s now time to click on the ‘Settings’ link which can be found towards the bottom of that sidebar menu.
Some Basic General Settings
Let’s begin with setting the time zone and date. After clicking on the settings page, Time zone setting will be found almost in the middle way there. Now you have two options; you could set the time yourself, having it relative to UTC; or you could search for your city by scrolling down the dropdown list. The second method will have the advantage of it being automatically adjusted to the Day light saving. For example, here Melbourne’s time has been set by us.
We will now be looking at how to change permalink settings, as this changes the default URL to the post generated by the site, for instance ?p+123, to something related to the topic making it easier for the readers and the search engines. Here we have used the post name for the permalink. Let us now move towards how to add content, since the basics have been done now.
Mapping Out Your Site Structure
One of the very unprofessional things that you see happening in WordPress is that people make random posts and pages without any specific plan of action. This sets a very confused positioning in the mind of the readers, therefore it is always better to have a plan for your content and site.
Let me give you an example of my site, which is my personal blog. I have a structure for the site in my mind which is:
- Home – where all my recent blog posts along with a list of the many posts done previously are shown
- About Page – A short bio about the author along with the object of making the site in the first place.
- Contact page – My contact information, with links and addresses to where to look for me, especially email addresses, etc.
This is pretty much how most of the sites look like in the beginning stage, and like everything else, their designs and content also evolves accordingly. This is an example of my personal blog where I happen to share my thoughts, stuff that I find cool on the internet, etc. However, your site may be business oriented, and it may not require this particular setting, for it blog may be secondary. That would need a different course of action, for which we should first understand the difference between posts and pages, because that would make us in a better position to structure our site in a business oriented or some other manner.
Understanding Posts And Pages – i.e. Different Content Types
Posts and pages are both different types of content. These differences are similar to the way there are differences in the types of publication, it will be easier to understand them in the form of books and magazines, Pages being the books and Posts being the magazine.
Understood? Let’s go in depth to make you understand.
The content present in Pages is not time sensitive, hence by its very nature it’s not dynamic. When you publish it once, you may not want to change its content daily. It will always have a place in your menu, and its content is useful over the long term.
Think of Pages like books kept in a bookcase. You don’t want to change the order of the books daily, and it the way they are kept is useful in the long term and it makes it spotting books easier.
There are two ways to go about building Pages. One is by building them hierarchically, or by applying different layouts relevant and available in your site theme.
Posts unlike Pages are dynamic in nature because they are time sensitive. This allows them to be categorized and also to be a part of your RSS feed, as people have the option to subscribe to them. They are always displayed on your blog’s front page, with the latest post being on top. Because their nature is dynamic, they are not part of your menu.
Did you notice its resemblance with that of a magazine? Being dynamic, time sensitive, categorized by month and date with the latest one being on the top.
Creating A Page
There are many ways for creating Pages that you can choose from. You can either opt for doing that in the Admin Bar by clicking on the New link, a dropdown menu will appear and you could choose Page from that menu. You can also choose to create a new Page from the Dashboard by clicking on the Pages link in the side menu, Add New option will appear, click on that. After clicking on the pages link, Pages listing page might appear, click on the Add New link on the top of that page.
Now open the page editor window. This window is pretty simple to understand specially if you are well aware of the word processor. Click in the editor section which will place your cursor there, and you are good to type. Press enter to make a new paragraph, and press SHIFT and ENTER simultaneously to just want to put a line break.
If you are satisfied with the way everything looks on the page, and you are ready to go live with it, then click on Publish. If you want to return to work later and then publish it then simply save draft of it.
You might want to take a sneak peek at the way your work is going to look when it is published. To do that, click on the Preview button.
Once you have created your About Page, and everything looks great then go ahead and build a contact page. Once that too is done, then go and view your site for the ultimate satisfaction, look at how your pages look like.
The pages that you have created might have come up in the menu, in the way they were built. This has been done by default. We will show you how to customize the menu later in another tutorial. Now we will be creating a new Post. Click on your site title to go the front page, since there is no Home button at the moment. Once you land up there, click on the New link and choose Post from the dropdown menu.
Creating A Post
You will see that you have landed up in a very familiar page. The most important familiarities being Editor field and the Publishing section, but there are pretty significant differences as well.
The difference being in the kinds of formats for posts and many ways to classify the posts according to categories. We will only be dealing with classifying the posts in this tutorial.
Many congratulations! Since now you are on the way to building your website, the structure has been already set and it is now time to put in some content. Let’s now look at how to build the front page for your site which is not a blog.
Setting Static Pages For Home And Blog Pages
If you are happy with you front page having listing your posts in a reverse chronological order then you can stop reading and wait for our next tutorial. However if you want static page as your front page and a different blog page, then read on further.
For example, let’s say that you want your site structure to be:
- Home: A front page that is static
- About: The reason for making this site, with a little introduction about the author of the site
- Services: about the services that you are offering
- Blog: your latest blog posts
- Contact: how to get in touch with you
In order to create static pages, you will have to rebuild new static pages from scratch, following the same instructions, just name them Home, blog and services for now to keep things simple.
To make the settings change and make your home page the front and static page, you will need to go to the ‘Reading settings’ and from there you will have to make the changes as following in the radio button which is currently set to ‘your latest posts.’ Do you understand the reason behind creating the pages first now?
Save changes once you are done with the above steps and now move onto your front page to view those changes.
Planning ahead as to what your site is going to look like, its structure and content saves a lot more time and work in the long term. If you don’t plan ahead then you might find yourself writing, rewriting and organizing posts, etc. So plan first and then build your site, structure and the content according to the plan.