If you know what a widget is or have heard of plugins this article is not for you. If you have ever read a top ten template article, you can stop reading this article. If you know the difference between a post and a page, stop right here and read something else. This article is just for WordPress beginners. This article is for those of us whose computer knowledge doe s not extend past having to click on start to turn off our computers.
Now that I have cleared the page of the computer geeks who know everything, let me tell you that it is possible to build a web page. I did it all by myself, well almost, I had a little help. I am so new at this I thought WWW stood for a ride at Disney World but still did it. I may not answer all of your questions here and I certainly will not use the correct jargon but I will share with you what I did and what I learned by trial and error.
My web site is: www.milwaukeervrental.com. Our business was too small for us to hire someone to do the web site so the only solution was for me to learn how and do it myself. I began by taking several free courses at Northwoods Software Development . These classes did not give me the knowledge to build a web site but they did give me the encouragement to do so. With their encouragement and advice my site is up and generating business.
I understand that not all of you have the advantage of living in Milwaukee, WI but look around your hometown to see if anyone offers similar classes. I want to say one more thing in favor of Northwoods. They realized immediately I was too small for their services but did not stop trying to give me the basic knowledge to get started. I highly recommend them to anyone who does need a professional team to build their web site.
Now back to us little guys. My web site uses WordPress which is also a very popular site builder for bloggers. The good folks at Northwoods recommended it to me and it does all I need it to do. However it is written for the computer savy so I needed to reduce it to a lower common denominator.
WordPress is free so don’t let anyone charge you for it and they are out there so be careful. You can obtain WordPress in two different ways. One is to simply Google it and download the package. If you just want to blog and are not concerned with the long web address which will be assigned to you then use WordPress as your domain provider. To use WordPress simply fill out all of the information on the WordPress page, they will send you a confirmation email and when you answer it the dashboard will be open to you and you will be ready to start blogging. Since I had a business I needed a concise web address.
I used a web hosting company which I used to load WordPress. If you Google “web hosting and WordPress” there will be 113,000,000 results in less than .25 seconds for you to consider. I chose IPage which I do not recommend. Their advertising spouted how good the help desk was and how they will help the beginner and so forth. However, the truth is they only want to sell me upgrades and not give advice. My domain is stuck with them now and I had to go elsewhere for help. My advice when choosing a service is to ask what is included for the $3.95 a month and what is not? Ask them specifically if they help you with building your site. Then ask about upgrades if they get too eager here hang up and call another one of the 113,000,000 results.
With WordPress loaded let’s look at the dashboard. On the top of the Dashboard will be your name. Directly below in the left-hand column are all of the features you will need to build your web page. Next to this column is a box labeled Right Now which contains what is currently on your site. Below that is a list of comments posted to your site by readers, then incoming links this is who has linked to your site. Below this is a sampling of popular plugins. The other side has a box for a quick posting and below that the WordPress blog which is info on WordPress. If you pull down the Screen Options tab you can eliminate several of these items from showing on your dashboard. Now we will start with themes.
WordPress has given you a default Theme which is a lovely picture of a road leading nowhere. You can choose to use this or change it. There are thousands of free Themes available. Themes show up on your pages. On the right side of the dashboard go down to Appearance and click it, then click Themes. A new page will appear with two tabs, click the Install Themes tab. Now you have a page with a search option and a filter option.
My theme is abcOK by SQLS. I found it by searching for business themes. I went to the theme homepage and checked out if they supported the theme. The one I chose had a second column and I wanted to remove it, they told me how. When you have selected a theme simply click on Install then go back to the themes page in WordPress and you will see the theme there. Under the theme picture it will say Activate click it and you have a new theme. If you want to try other Themes, go ahead and experiment. You can activate them and then deactivate and delete. I tried several before deciding on the one I am using.
Now that your theme is installed there will be settings you can change, your theme may have more or less than mine. First is Widgets. These are features you can add to your theme by simply clicking on Widgets and dragging which one you want from the left to the right-hand column. The Theme Options setting allows me to put in my Google “meta” tags and a tag for twitter. The next option is Background. Here I can change the color of the background and even add a photo. Last is the Editor or HTML writing of the template.
At first the HTML really scared me but I was showed a trick of using the “find on this page” search which is in your Edit tab on your top toolbar. With this I was able to find the sidebar and eliminate it on my page. I was also able to search for mistakes Google told me about and correct them. Before I made any changes in the HTML I copied and pasted the original in a file so if it was wrong I was able to restore what I did.
Next are plugins. Plugins are handy features which enhance your web site. I use plugins for a Google site map, Google analytics, SEO management, contact page, and an availability calendar. Whenever I ran into trouble cleaning up my site after it was completed I checked to see if there was a plugin which would do the work for me.
Plugins are found in the left column. Click on Add New Plugin and a page will come up which has a search feature and some suggested words at the bottom. I found there are two types of plugins. One type is for advanced users and one is for us beginners. You can tell is the plug-in is friendly or not by clicking on the Install tab and reading what you need to do to install. If you cannot understand the directions don’t use it. After you load the plug-in, it will need to be activated. Now you need to find the plug-in.
This is a good time to look at the Settings at the bottom of the left-hand column. Your plugins will be found here along with some other interesting stuff. Under the General tab is the site title. This is what will appear on top of every page your create so make sure this is what you want it to say. In other words this is the name of your web site or blog. The second line is a tagline which will appear just under the title. This is a short description and is very important if you want Google to find your page. Be precise in just two or three words. Use Google’s keyword tool to find what words people will be using to find you.
The next two are WordPress URL which is where your site is located if you use WordPress to host a domain and site address which is used if you have a web site different from WordPress. Email is next and that is simply so the good people at WordPress can reach you. I have no idea what membership is so I left it unchecked. New user default role was already set to subscriber so I left it that way. The rest of the page is quite easy however make sure you click Save Changes at the bottom.
I have no idea what the Writings settings page is about so I left it alone. Here’s how I write my pages. My comfort level is with my word processing program, WordPerfect 6. Corel made a great program which I have used for years and know well. So I wrote everything on that and simply used copy and paste to the pages. My thoughts are always, why try to change something if you already know something which works well for you. Why reinvent the wheel?
The Readings page is a different story. Here you get to assign your home page. The first setting allows you to choose which shows first on your site. You can have your latest blog entry or like me a static page called Home. I left the Post selection on Select since I used no posts. Posts appeared to be more for the bloggers than for a business web site. The next tab is for comments. Since my page is a business page my settings are strict, in other words I want no comments. You may feel different and will choose differently. The next tab allows you to choose how you want your pictures shown and stored.
Privacy allows you to choose whether you want your site open to search engines or not. I am not really sure what a permalink is so I will not try and explain it. I use the default setting which seems to be working just fine for me. However I do have a plugin which sets the permalinks. You can install a similar plugin by searching plugins. That ends your regular settings, the rest are the plugins you have installed. You can now click on each of them and fill out the settings. If you are not certain about how to set up your plugins do a Google search and you will probably find someone who will tell you.
Believe it or not you now have a web page. Here are a few more things you can do to tweak your site. You can put your pages in order by using the Page Attributes on the page edit screen. Simply put a number in here and that will be where that page will turn up. My theme has tabs so each numbered page gets a tab. I used numbers like 111 and 115 and 120 and then 125 and 130 and so forth this way I can add as many pages I want up to 999. This also allows you to slip a page in between without renumbering all of the pages. My home page is numbered 000.
Each page allows you to check if you want comments and pingbacks. A pingback tell you when somebody else has linked your site. The comments is whether or not you will allow a comment screen to appear on the bottom of the page. I could not figure out “custom field” so did not mess with it.
On the Edit Page screen toolbar you can open the page to full screen by clicking the second tab to the right. The furthest right tab opens an additional tool bar which is needed to format your text and undo something you have done. Buttons on the top allow you to add media to your page. When you have everything you want on the page click on the Preview Page tab. Now you can see the page as it will appear on your web site. When you have everything as you want it, click on the Publish button and you have published to the web.
In the very first paragraph I warned the tech savy folks that this was an article for true beginners. If any of them have read this I am certain they are horrified by what I have left out or how I described things. However, this is all the information I needed to get my site up and running. I used one web site, wpbeginner.com for help. Most of the others claiming to be for beginners started at a level too high for me. Once your page is up and running you can go back and start learning more about what makes it click. That is what I am doing now.
Throughout this article I mentioned SEO and Google search quite a bit. This was my second goal after creating the site. What I learned and did to achieve that goal will be another article. In conclusion I leave you with the words of my brother-in -law when the gave me my first computer, a used IBM, almost thirty years ago. He told I could not break it, go ahead and try different things- learn what it can do. WordPress is the same you can’t break it go ahead and try it- learn what it can do.