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 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 WordPress.com, 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
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.
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
- 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:
- Lorelle’s WordPress School Description
- WordPress School Tutorials
- WordPress Publishing Checklist
- How to Give Feedback and Criticism