WordPress is so easy, for the most part, you can use it right out of the box. Once you get familiar with the powerful features beyond the most simple post writing, creating Pages and categories, you will probably want to do more.
The WordPress Codex is the online manual for WordPress users. It takes you through everything you want to know about how to use WordPress. From installation to customization, it’s all there. It’s also a living manual, so new articles and information are being added all the time.
Let me take you through a journey of the WordPress Codex to guide you to the information you may be looking for.
The WordPress Codex features basic tutorials that are simple enough for the very basic beginner, while still offering intermediate level tasks and techniques to help just about every WordPress user. They are called WordPress Lessons.
WordPress Lessons are written as if a WordPress technical expert is sitting right next to you. They will walk you step-by-step through each process. Examples include introductions to templates, template tags, category templates, customizing your sidebar and header and so much more.
Blogging for Beginners:
If you are totally new to blogging, let alone WordPress, begin your educational process with Introduction to Blogging. This will help you learn the terms and concepts that make blogging different from websites. Then stop by WordPress Semantics for a really good introduction to the terminology and jargon associated with blogging and WordPress. Once you have a handle on the jargon and a basic understanding of how it works and what a blog is, then you can get into what WordPress has to offer.
WordPress for Beginners:
Those new to WordPress, you have two choices. You can jump in and install WordPress and take it for a spin with little or no help outside of the simple and famous 5 minute installation. It is that simple. Or, you can read about how it works and then install it, learning as you go. Either way, spend some time with First Steps With WordPress and New To WordPress – Where to Start. These two documents will guide you through everything you need to know to get your WordPress blog up and going, helping you understand how all the different parts and pieces work, and how you can get them to work for you.
Whether you are a beginner blogger or fairly experienced, some basic tutorials will help you learn how to use WordPress are available. The first thing you need to learn how to do is how to write your first post in WordPress. You write your post and control your blog from your WordPress Administration Panels, though many incorrectly call these the Dashboard. The Dashboard is just one of the many Administration Panels in WordPress. Like most bloggers, you will want to include images and photographs in you posts. You will also want to learn how to manage your Links or Blogroll and comments, and learn how to link to your posts, Pages, and categories from within your posts, helping to improve navigation and linking.
Exploring WordPress Features:
WordPress has some very powerful features that make blogging a dream, and makes WordPress a borderline CMS program. In fact, many use it as such. Pages are not like posts. They are non-chronological web pages that work outside of the WordPress Loop and do not “age”. Use them to create contact, about, events, schedule, and other non-post pages that provide pseudo static information.
WordPress Feeds play a very important role in WordPress, offering fans and search engines another way of accessing your blog. In the full version of WordPress, you can add users to your blog so others can contribute. To learn more about what you can do as a blog administrator, see Administering Your WordPress Blog.
WordPress Discussions and Comments:
A highlight of WordPress blogs is the ability to handle comments for site interactivity. Blog comments are managed from the Moderation Subpanel of the Manage panel in your WordPress Administration Panels. For the most part, comments on your WordPress blog are easy to handle, and if they make you nervous or you don’t want them, you can turn them off. You can quickly check to see if you have any comments, respond if you need to, delete them if inappropriate, and get back to writing post content to invite more comments. WordPress, right out of the box, is usually really good at eliminating many of the nagging comment spam that can come knocking. But there are other methods of dealing with comment spam if it gets out of control, putting the focus back on the content.
Choosing and Tweaking Your WordPress Theme:
The next thing people always want to do is choose a WordPress Theme or tweak one that they like but want to change to make it more personalized. To choose your WordPress Theme, read Using WordPress Themes and visit the official WordPress Themes list and view the various Themes in the official WordPress Theme Viewer. First Steps With WordPress will help you understand what the various WordPress Theme elements are so you know what to look for in a Theme that matches your blog’s content and purpose.
If you want to tweak the WordPress Theme you have chosen, there are plenty of articles to help you in the WordPress Blog Design and Layout and WordPress Lessons sections of the Codex. If you are new to HTML, CSS, and website design and layout, then take a few minutes to read through Finding Your CSS Styles to help you look through your WordPress Template files and Theme to change little bits and pieces within the Theme. WordPress, like most modern web pages and websites, relies almost totally on CSS to structure to present your web pages, so you can learn more about how WordPress uses CSS in the article on WordPress CSS Information and Techniques.
The power of using the full version of WordPress, you can customize and tweak WordPress into just about anything you want and need in a website or blog. There are plenty of WordPress Lessons to help you do this. Want a photoblog or photo gallery?
Customizing Your WordPress Theme:
WordPress uses a modular template system to create the look of your blog called a WordPress Theme. To customize your WordPress Theme, or even design one from scratch, you need to understand how the WordPress template system works. Stepping Into Templates provides a basic introduction to templates, and you can find specific examples of the various custom templates used in WordPress and how to customize them yourself.
Inside of WordPress template files are WordPress Template Tags and you can get a basic understanding of how they work from reading Stepping Into Template Tags. As people make changes on their template files and style sheet, they often complain about not being able to see the changes, so there is a WordPress Lesson on “I Make Changes and Nothing Happens” to help you understand how Internet browsers store historical copies of websites you visit and how to clear out those copies so you can see the changes.
Customizing your WordPress Theme involves finding your CSS styles, and working with CSS to modify the style sheet to change the look of your WordPress blog. You will also need a good understanding of the WordPress site architecture. There is extensive information on designing WordPress Themes in WordPress Theme Development, WordPress Blog Design and Layout, and Designing WordPress Themes for Public Release.
Customization doesn’t stop with simply changing the HTML/XHTML structure and CSS style sheet. With WordPress, you can dig deeper and change the PHP core functions and queries within your WordPress Templates. This is not for the meek, but even advanced beginners can follow the easy-to-understand WordPress Lessons which cover a variety of topics such as The WordPress Loop in Action, Alphabetizing Posts, Customizing the Read More, Separating Category Lists, Using Custom Fields with Post-Meta, Using Smilies, Customizing Feeds, Designing Headers, Styling Theme Forms, and so much more.
Don’t forget to validate your WordPress blog, Theme and Template Files to ensure they are all working right and up to web standards after all that fiddling.
Website and Blog Development:
Developing your WordPress blog or site isn’t just limited to creating a great looking Theme and writing brilliant essays and articles. If you want to attract attention from users and search engines, you will need to do some work on maintaining your WordPress blog and working on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so search engines will enjoy visiting your site. More WordPress Lessons will help guide you through some of these website administration tasks such as WordPress Housekeeping, WordPress Site Maintenance, Meta Tags in WordPress, Search Engine Optimization for WordPress, Accessibility, and find your Website, Host and Server Information. It’s also important to know your sources while developing your WordPress blog.
Finding Help for WordPress:
There are many helpful articles on how to find more help with your WordPress blog such as Finding WordPress Help, Getting More Help With WordPress, Using the WordPress Support Forums, WordPress FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions, and there is always the WordPress Support Forum if you have questions not covered by WordPress Lessons in the WordPress Codex.
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