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Welcome to Lorelle’s WordPress School

Badge - Learn WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen at WordPress School.I was one of the first asked to write and publish a text book on WordPress. I worked with the BIG NAME text book publishing company for months to create a structure and outline for WordPress users. As a long-time WordPress user, WordPress Codex contributor and editor, WordPress support forums volunteer, developer, designer, and WordPress breaker and fixer, I understood well the needs of WordPress users. They didn’t. They wanted a formulaic book that followed the tried and true conventions of the Dummy-style books, starting with defining WordPress, installing WordPress, customizing the site, and barely touching how to publish with WordPress.

With the ease of web hosts offering one-click installation of WordPress, WordPress Themes offering instant customizable design options, and WordPress Plugins to add functionality, what’s left?

The publishing.

The constant feeding of the site content. The decisions about where to put the content and why, and how best to serve the readers by helping them find the information they need fast and easy. With so much emphasis on the design in the old-fashioned focus on pre-1999 HTML and web design and not on the actual usage and functionality of content management, we couldn’t find a compromise. I felt like I was trying to shove a round WordPress into an unimaginative square hole publishing company.

I wanted to focus on the publishing aspect of WordPress first. It literally takes less than 5 minutes to install WordPress or sign up for, pick a WordPress Theme, and bang! You have a website. Then what?

Why start the book there? Anyone can have a WordPress site up and running in minutes, then what? I wanted to start in the middle, where the sweet, juicy flavor is found. Teach them how to fish, and all that. The rest is just paint, surface stuff. The more the user gets past their fears of publishing online and to the joy of not just having their say but sharing their say with others around the world, the more likely they will keep blogging and sharing their stories, and be willing to learn more about how WordPress works. Then they can decorate the house.

Teaching WordPress From the Inside Out

We Need a New Design

Lorelle WordPress School Tips and Techniques Badge.A new client wanted a new design. “This WordPress Theme is broken.” A glance at their site told me the Theme wasn’t the problem. It was a failure to understand content structure and organization in WordPress. This resulted in poor SEO results, more importantly, in a frustrated and angry contributor team, so they blamed it on the design.

We spent three hours listing all the web pages on the site and the core content, then restructuring the content of the site on paper, renaming web page names, changing the hierarchy, and converting many Pages to posts. Once we had a content plan in place, it took another couple hours to rearrange the site’s content.

When we were done, they were thrilled with the new “design” and felt confident enough to not only use the site better but enjoy the process. Within a month, their SEO rankings and their traffic were doubled, as was their excitement about the site. On the paid invoice, they thanked me for the new web design. I laughed. They were using the same WordPress Theme.

For over a decade I’ve been teaching WordPress from the inside out with tremendous success. Clients and students not only are still blogging and building their business on WordPress years later, some have become famous and wealthy in the online and offline world because of the success of their sites and the passion and commitment they put into their site and work. They put readers first, content second, and design way down on the list.

Imagine you are building a custom home and tell the builder you want one room pink and another room yellow. She will ask if you want a one, two, or three story home. You say you don’t care, you just need one room pink and another yellow. How big are the rooms? What style is the house? Tutor, Craftsman, Victorian, Cape Cod Cottage, Spanish Colonial, Modern? Don’t care, just one room pink and the other yellow. What about the grand piano, over-sized couch and television? Which rooms will need to accommodate those furnishings and how are you going to get that piano in there? Don’t care! I want one room pink and the other yellow!

This is how most people choose a WordPress Theme. They make decisions by choosing the WordPress Theme with the background color they like, the header art matches their subject matter, it’s clean looking and pretty, oh, and it is a paid Theme not free, which means that paid is better than free. Then they stuff it with anything and everything just as a teenager turns their bedrooms from neat freak to junk collection as they experiment with all the things they should do rather than being selective, which comes with time and experience they don’t have yet.

These are the wrong reasons to choose a WordPress Theme just as these would be the wrong reasons to buy a house or build one. The right answers come from knowing about the bones of the Theme, the architecture, and whether or not it will hold what you intend to publish. After all, if the piano won’t fit through the door…

Choosing the right WordPress Theme comes from:

  • Knowing if it will hold the content you create well
  • How to easily use it within your current skill set
  • If it will grow with your needs and skills in time

You have to decide what will go into those rooms, how big and how many rooms you will need, and the style of the architecture, all before the first thought of paint. Same applies to WordPress Plugins. Just because you have a need doesn’t mean you should throw a Plugin at it. The most common functions and features are built into WordPress so why add a Plugin to do what it already does?

In other words, you need to know how to use WordPress and stuff it with content before you start building around it.

Among the first to teach WordPress to a public audience in Israel and around the world, and as a stand-alone, full-credit college course in multiple degree programs, a fundamental foundation course, I taught WordPress the right way, from the inside out. Thousands have gone on to be better web designers, developers, and WordPress users. The results of those lessons are now available to you over the next year on this site.

Introduction to Lorelle’s WordPress School

Welcome to Lorelle’s WordPress School, a year-long project to help you learn WordPress from the ground up, inside out, focusing first on content, then on the paint.

Note for Designers and Developers

There is a long-held truth in the WordPress Community.

Once you create your first WordPress site, others will ask for your help on theirs.

Lorelle’s WordPress School is perfect for established designers, developers, those wishing to build their web dev business on WordPress. It is designed to teach you the terminology and core functionality of WordPress many skip on their way to self-taught WordPress.

Use this year’s articles as references to teach clients, or learn how to teach clients how to use WordPress through these tutorials. No matter where you go with your web design/dev work, you will be teaching others how to use what you create in WordPress.

Learn the words, the core functionality, the step-by-step process – go back to your ABCs. You maybe surprised at how much you’ve missed or forgotten along the way.

Most importantly, many web designers and developers add features and functions already in the core of WordPress, adding redundancy that is not only confusing to the user, it can cause compatibility and conflict issues. Maybe it’s time you learned WordPress from the ground up again.

No matter how experienced you are with WordPress, this is a great time to step back and start over with the basics.

Yes, there are books to help you learn WordPress. Others stepped into the empty shoes I left behind to write those WordPress books. There are many websites, and many people specializing in teaching you the basics of WordPress. This is another.

Not quite. This is not just another tutorial on how to use WordPress. This is Lorelle’s WordPress School, a collection of several hundred articles published over this next year stuffed with over 12 years of WordPress expertise, experience, teaching, and training. It is based on teaching WordPress to savvy WordPress experts starting or in the business of web design and development, and to people who barely know how to use a computer, intimidated at the thought of a tweet or Facebook post, people who think that AOL is their portal to the web. It is WordPress from the inside out.

It is WordPress training from the start to the anything-is-possible. You go at your speed, reading through these tutorials and exercises at your pace daily, on weekends, all at once, or as needed.

Each post features a tutorial on some aspect of WordPress, each building upon the previous ones. At the end is an exercise for you to put the lesson into practice. The exercises may take a few seconds to 30 minutes, with a few lasting a few hours depending upon their complexity and your ability to navigate within WordPress.

As with anything web-based, this educational program includes tips for using the tools of the web including your web browser, and includes the basics and web standards of blogging, social media, web publishing, web design, and development.

What Will You Learn at Lorelle’s WordPress School?

This inside-out method of learning WordPress begins with the basics. You will learn the names of things and the words you need to know to find answers online, a well as where to look for those answers. I will help you learn how to go even further by choosing the right teacher or trainer specializing in WordPress, though my goal is to teach you how to expand your WordPress expertise on your own.

Then we will dive into the inside of WordPress, exploring the parts, pieces, and terminology, focusing on web publishing, the furniture you will be putting in your house. Posts, Pages, categories, tags, images, galleries, words, blockquotes, links, calls-to-action, lists, all the basic structure and content elements, including SEO, that go into a WordPress site. It is around these things a site is designed.

As a professional web publisher and blogger, I will be including tips for web publishing and blogging techniques, as well as web standards, ensuring your site meets the requirements of today’s websites.

Next comes site structure and organization, the decisions you need to make about where you will put all the beautiful furnishings in the house. You will also learn about how to customize the look and feel of a WordPress site with the core features of WordPress, customizing menus and navigation, and choosing the right site model for your needs.

Interactivity is one of the most important aspects of the web, and we’ll explore comments, comment spam, and social media interactivity in WordPress, followed by site management and maintenance, keeping your site up-to-date and in good order.

Many of today’s popular sites for business are multiple contributor sites. We’ll examine user roles and how to feature and manage multiple authors in a WordPress site, how to include and feature guest bloggers, and how to make a multiple contributor site work well for the authors and the readers.

Moving from the inside, we will finally arrive at the outside, designing around all that beautiful furniture. My WordPress School is designed to teach you the fundamentals of how WordPress works, the core functions and features that may be applied to any WordPress Theme, easing your transition into choosing the right WordPress Theme, and using and customizing that Theme. Then we move into extending WordPress with WordPress Plugins, troubleshooting, and more.

Here is the general outline:

  • WordPress Intro
  • Basics of Web Publishing
    • Publishing in WordPress
    • Content Organization
    • Types of Posts
    • Publishing Techniques
  • Site Structure and Organization
  • Interactivity
    • Comments
    • Social Media
    • Social Media Integration
  • Site Management and Maintenance
    • WordPress Management
    • Site Updates and Upkeep
    • User and Contributors
    • Site Backups and Restorations
    • Site Migration
    • WordPress Security
  • WordPress Themes and Design
  • WordPress Plugins
  • WordPress Troubleshooting

If you are ready to embrace WordPress in a new and passionate way this year, you are in the right place. Instructions coming right up.

This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see:

Subscribe to Lorelle on WordPress. Feed on Lorelle on WordPress Follow on Twitter. Give and Donate to Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress.


  1. Posted January 24, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I am really looking forward to this. I have a couple of Dummies books about blogs from a mostly technical viewpoint, but they do little to address creating content and building your community. With my blog, I am not so concerned with quantity of subscribers as the quality of the subsscribers. I want a community that help build the blog into a teaching tool and learning experience. That doesn’t mean all opinions have to be in sync with mine either. I actually search for potential subscribers. It takes a lot of effort and is a slow build, but I am generally happy with the results.

    As to content and building a thriving blog I recommed this book. It really applies more to news and topical blogging, which is not my style, but still has a lot of useful information.

    • Posted January 24, 2015 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Thanks. I’m familiar with Charlie’s work. He does a good job. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Lorelle’s WordPress School focuses first on content, then, down the road, subscribers and community building. I think of it like inviting people to your house when you don’t have furniture. Not a pleasant experience. We’ll start making furniture first.


      • Posted January 24, 2015 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

        I have no problem finding content, but I can’t seem to write less than 1500 words and upwards of 3000. I can’t say the content doesn’t warrant it, but it makes it difficult to post more than once weekly. I have tried to initiate a short form post format but find myself to detail-oriented to make much use of it. Perhaps I just need more time. I’ve only been blogging a year. Here I am up past midnight writing on the next post.

  2. Posted January 27, 2015 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me. I’m giving myself the gift of relearning WP standalone this year. OK-it was on my list for last year, but this year I have hosting! 🙂

    • Posted January 28, 2015 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      @JenT, excellent, but you will know most of this stuff during the first part of the lessons, but we will get to self-hosting as well. The general principles are the same. It is amazing how people get so excited about self-hosting from, then realize that they had it cheaper and better back on LOL! Or the others who have been self-hosted for years, then discover the joy and affordability of, give up their expensive sites and switch to Love the mix up of all of us, and glad to have you join us!

  3. mparadis
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Lorelle –
    Thank you so much for putting this school together. I can’t imagine the time and effort it takes to facilitate a project such as this. While I have been using WordPress for 5+ years, I know there are functions that I am doing incorrectly or can be improved upon. WordPress can be daunting for some, but believe the more you use WordPress, the easier it is to manage. I do have one question. When will the school actually begin? I don’t see a start date listed anywhere. Thank you again for this opportunity to learn WordPress and expand my understanding. Please let me know if I can assist in any way.

    • Posted January 29, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Monday. Stay tuned, and thanks.

      And I’m sure you will be more than useful! LOL! I’m hoping this will be a great opportunity to network and help each other learn more about how WordPress works.

  4. Posted February 2, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    When I try to watch the video it comes up as a private video and won’t let me watch it.

  5. Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    This course could not have come at a better time for me. I am really looking forward to learning and sharing.

  6. Posted March 21, 2015 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle, I found your site from someone posting on B-School. It looks fantastic and exactly what I need to develop my personal web page. I do have a computer business web page, but want to develop my bodywork therapies and do a site of my own. Is it too late to join now? Thanks for wanting to share your expertise with the world.

    • Posted March 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      It is never too late to join. The course is self-paced and self-directed.

      What is B-School? Sounds interesting.

      Come join the fun. See the WordPress School Tutorials list of posts and start with the first one and move forward. Join us in the Google+ and introduce yourself on the Introduction post there. Glad to have you on board!

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  84. […] Lorelle on WordPress is a blogger who writes a lot of extremely helpful posts about virtually every aspect of blogging on WordPress.  I run across her blog from time to time when I’m researching how to do something.  IMHO she’s considered an expert on WordPress topics.  Her posts are both informative and exhaustive…meaning if she’s written about a topic I’m researching, after I’ve read her work my questions are answered…there’s usually no need to research anything more on the subject.  The reason I’ve written this long introduction is because I discovered an excellent post she wrote about Splogs, which helped me understand much more than just the smaller picture.  If you really want to understand the finer points of Splogs you can read her post entitled ‘How to Spot a Splog‘ too. […]

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