You should now have WordPress installed so let me give you a guided tour so you know where everything is. I’m using the free Twenty Seventeen theme and I’ll explain everything from widgets to blog sidebars.
When you first start using WordPress you might get a bit confused by all the terminology being used. For example, what’s a blog sidebar and what on earth are widgets? Don’t panic – they’re just names for the different parts of your website. In the below video I’ll give you a guided tour of WordPress. Please note that in this video I install the ‘Classic Editor’ plugin. You no longer need to do that as the in-built block editor is now quite good:
How do you update a WordPress website?
Once WordPress is installed you carry out all of your website updates in a web browser via the admin dashboard. You can access the admin dashboard from:
Bookmark this page as you’ll use it all the time. Log on with your main WordPress username and password – the one you set up in the ‘Final WordPress configuration’ section of Part 5. Once you’ve logged in you should see the admin dashboard, it looks like this:
Parts of a WordPress website
Everything I’m going to explain in this section is based on using the Twenty Seventeen theme. Even in 2020 this is one of my favourite free themes for WordPress and it’s still included (at the time of writing) as one of the default free themes when you install WordPress. Feel free to use a different theme but you might find things are in slightly different places.
Navigating a WordPress website
The nice thing about WordPress is that a theme might change the overall look and feel of your website but all of the terminology is generally the same. WordPress websites normally always consist of:
In the Twenty Seventeen theme this is where you’ll find everything:
What is a WordPress Slug?
You’ll see the term ‘Slug’ referred to regularly in WordPress. Nothing to do with pesky lettuce-eating molluscs. In the world of WordPress the slug is the URL of a Page, Post or other items. It is usually all lowercase and contains only letters, numbers and / or hyphens.
For example, if you have a Page with the slug ‘contact’ the URL of that Page will be:
Slugs are immensely important since they can massively influence how search engines interact with your website. So whenever you create a new Page or Post you MUST update the slug from the default. This is a big topic and you can read more about it here. A couple of very brief pointers:
- Keep the slug all lowercase
- Use hyphens where needed
- Avoid words like and, if, but, is in the slug
- Keep it short but descriptave
Remember don’t go changing your slugs once your website is live. If you do you’ll need to add a re-direct from the old URL to the new URL so that search engines don’t get confused. We’ll talk more about that in Part 8 when we talk about plugins.
What’s the difference between Posts and Pages?
When it comes to adding content to your website you can publish this in one of two ways. Either as a Post or as a Page. It’s important you get this right from the start so put some thought in to it.
What are WordPress Pages?
Pages are generally used for simple static content such as:
- About me
- Terms & Conditions
- Contact page
Pages can follow a hierarchy if needs be. So each page can have a ‘Parent’ page. You can see where that’s set using the Quick Edit option:
A major consideration for Pages is that changing the hierarchy can change the URL of that Page.
What are WordPress Posts?
Posts are normally used for date-bound content, such as news articles or blog updates. The major difference between Pages and Posts are:
- Posts don’t follow a strict hierarchy
- Posts can be assigned to any number of Categories
- Posts can have Tags
- Categories can be added to menus
Here’s what a WordPress Post looks like in the Quick Editor:
From the perspective of your website visitor Pages and Posts look very similar. The major difference is that Posts normally have a ‘Published on…’ date displayed.
From an administrative perspective you need to put some proper thought in to how your website will be structured. Try to visualise how your website will function a year or so down the line when you have 100+ articles. How will it be structured?
What are Menus?
You’ll find menus in Appearance -> Menus
Menus are fairly self explanatory so I’ll not go in to a huge amount of detail in here. The Twenty Seventeen theme can handle a main menu at the top of the screen. You can also put menus in Widgets and there’s a thing called the Social menu that allows you to have social media icons at the bottom of the screen. You can create as many menus as you like but obviously only one can be used at a time. This is handy since you don’t have to edit the ‘live’ menu. You can create a new menu and switch over to using it when you’re ready.
What are WordPress widgets?
Find them in Appearance -> Widgets
Widgets are simply blocks of text, graphics, menus and other elements that can be moved to different sections of your website. For example in the Twenty Seventeen theme you can also place widgets in Footer 1 or Footer 2:
Within the WordPress admin area you simply click on ‘Widgets’ in the left hand menu and you can then drag & drop widgets to either Blog Sidebar, Footer 1 or Footer 2:
Update the Site Title & Tagline
Find this in Settings -> General
Update the Site Title and Tagline to something appropriate for your website. Don’t make it too wordy but also make sure it’s suitably descriptive as it can help with search engine optimisation (SEO).
Whenever you make changes in these screens make sure you scroll to the bottom and click ‘Save Changes’.
Update the Header Image & Logo
Find this is Appearance -> Customise
- Site Identity – Add a logo and site icons. These normally work quite well as 512 x 512px .png files
- Header Media – Add a background image for the main homepage. This should work well as a 2000 x 1200px .jpg file.
Keep an eye on file sizes! You want to keep your website running nice and fast. Your logo should be under 50KB in size. Try to keep large featured page images under 200KB. I chat more about images and file sizes in the video at the start of this article. Remember:
- .png files for block colour – good for logos
- .jpg files for photographs
Finding images for your website
Remember DO NOT just copy images from random people’s websites and upload them to your own. It’s a sure fire route to a copyright lawsuit. The safest bet is to take your own pictures. Alternatively use a royalty-free photo service such as Unsplash.
Next time we’ll take a look at plugins! If you spot any errors in this article please get in touch. If you’ve got any questions you can post them below by becoming a member. Don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube and please join my mailing list.