Monthly Archives: November 2011
A recent article How to Turn a Normal WordPress Installation into a Working Online-Shop discusses how to turn a normal WordPress installation into a working online shop. Although the article is very thorough and well written, it is not the easiest method to turn your WordPress installation into a working online shop. The easiest way to achieve this is by downloading and installing the WP e-Commerce plugin.
Assuming you have a working version of WordPress installed you must do the following:
- Download the e-Commerce plugin
- Copy the folder to your local plugins directory
- Activate the plugin and configure it to your liking
Once the plugin is installed the most important things to do are:
- Set your default shipping country and associated shipping settings
- Setup and configure the presentation settings
- Setup your receipt notification email address
- Setup your payment gateway
- Add products
- Upgrade to gold if you want to add multiple images to products
These are the instructions for setting up PayPal for your WP e-Commerce store.
- Browse to PayPal and sign up using your email address
- Under Profile > Shipping Settings check the allow transaction-based shipping values to override the profile shipping settings listed above
Google Checkout Setup
These are the instructions for setting up Google Checkout for your WP e-Commerce store
- Browse to Google Checkout and click sign up now
- Select whether or not your business has a Google Account for services like AdWords or Gmail?
- Create your account using your Gmail email address
At your WP e-Commerce store’s Admin
Now that you have a Google Checkout account setup enter your Google Checkout Merchant ID and Key into the payment gateway settings page in the WP e-commerce admin panel
- Under e-Commerce > Gateway Options choose Google Checkout as your payment gateway.
- In “Google Checkout Merchant ID” enter your Merchant ID.
- In “Google Checkout Merchant Key” enter your Merchant Key.
- Choose your Server Type (Sandbox vs Production), currency, and button style
- Click the button that says “Submit”
Now that you have setup your shop and have a working PayPal account you are ready to start selling! Upload your products and have fun.
For more detailed information on how to use WP e-Commerce you can read (or contribute) to the new WP e-Commerce project Wiki.
Why stop there? Business blogging is really starting to take off. More and more people are starting to use WordPress to power their websites – especially now that there are so many powerful plugins. Lets take a quick glance at some of the plugins we use to turn your average WordPress install into a business blogging solution.
- Static Front Page. You might not want the front page of your web site to be your blog. See Creating a Static Front Page.
- Forums. Use bbPress or WP Forum depending on the requirements. Both are easy to install and both have a range of useful features.
- Email Newsletters. Use WP Campaign Monitor because it is simple to install and easy to get the hang of. It also integrates with WP e-Commerce lite.
- Surveys. Information is power. Use the Survey Fly plugin because it is powerful and easy to use. Administrators can download .csv reports that they can manipulate internally using proper spreadsheet software.
- Statistics. Use WP SlimStat because it is so easy to install.
- Google Analytics. Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site. Google Analytics for WordPress automatically tracks and segments all outbound links from within posts, comment author links, links within comments, blogroll links and downloads. It also allows you to track AdSense clicks, add extra search engines, track image search queries and it will even work together with Urchin. The WordPress Plugin repository has other Google Analytics plugin listed under the analytics tag.
- Search Engine Optimization. Search Everything enables the searching of Pages, Comments and more. No Hacking or modifications necessary, just install, activate the plugin and configure it under Options > Search Everything
- Ecommerce & Shopping Cart. Turn your WordPress Installation into a fully functional Ecommerce Platform. See the available Ecommerce Plugins & Ecommerce Themes for WordPress.
If you are a developer or seeking to deploy WordPress yourself and are new to WordPress; here is a step-by-step plan for getting started.
Remember, if you need help along the way, plenty of options for assistance are listed in this article. Welcome to the exciting world of WordPress!
Step One – Read
Before you invest your valuable time and energy into installing WordPress, there are some documents you need to read. WordPress is a great product; it’s easy-to-use, it’s quite powerful, but it isn’t necessarily the right software for everyone. Just like building a house, you have to use the right tool for the right job.
- About Weblogs – What is Blogging all about?
- What is WordPress?
- WordPress Features
- Before You Install WordPress
Step Two – Make a Plan
Based upon the information you’ve just read, including instructions on installing WordPress, you should have a list of the things you need, and the things you need to do. If not, make that list now–you’ll want to make sure it includes the following information:
- Website Host Requirements Checked and Verified
- Versions of PHP and MySQL Checked and Verified
- Web Host Compatibility with New Versions of WordPress
- Your Website Username and Password
- Text Editor Software
- An FTP Client Software
- Your Web Browser of Choice
The following documents will help you understand more about how WordPress works and how to make a plan for your WordPress site:
It is important to make a plan about how you want to use WordPress on your site. Here are some questions to ask yourself. Make a list of the answers so you can add to your plan.
- Will you install WordPress in the root directory, subdirectory, or you just want to make a test site to make sure you want to use it?
- Have you made a list of your site Categories? Understand that WordPress can only order Categories alphabetically by name or by ID (order entered through the Manage > Categories screen), so if the display order of your Categories is important to you, start making your list of Categories.
- Have you made a list of Pages you may want to add to your site, such as About, Contact, or Events?
Step Three – Install WordPress
With this information and your plan, it’s time to install WordPress.
- Before You Install WordPress
- Installing WordPress
- Hosting WordPress
- Editing the wp-config.php file
- Frequently Asked Questions About Installing WordPress
- Using FTP Clients and Software
- Changing File Permissions
- Upgrading WordPress
- Common Installation Problems
- Trouble: I Can’t Login
Step Four – Set Up WordPress
With your installation complete, it’s time to set up WordPress so it will work the way you want it to work. As you change various settings, it is recommended you view how those changes impact your site by frequently clicking the View Site link at the top of the Administration Screen. Though you may choose to do these steps in any order, your site will cause you fewer problems if you proceed in the following order:
- Administration > Users > Your Profile – detail the information about you
- Administration > Users > Add New – add users and authors who will be using your site, if applicable
- Administration > Settings > General – set your site name and other site information
- Administration > Settings > Writing – set the options of your Write Post screen
- Administration > Settings > Reading – set how many posts to show on the front page and in categories and your feed requirements
- Administration > Settings > Discussion – turn on or off comments and set how to handle them
- Administration > Posts > Categories – add a few categories so have a list to pick from when you write your first post
- Administration > Posts > Posts – after you have written a few posts, this is where you will manage them by editing or deleting
- Administration > Appearance > Themes – maybe change the look of your site?
- Administration > Page > Pages – add a Page or two like “About Us” or “Contact Me”
- Administration > Posts > Add New – start adding content to your site
- Writing Posts – step-by-step instructions on writing posts
- Introduction to Dealing with Comment Spam
- Moderating Comments
- Administration > Links > Links SubPanel – Managing your links
- WordPress in Languages Other than English
Presentation and Themes
Changing the look of your WordPress website is possible with just a few clicks. Here is a list of resources and information about changing the look of your site with WordPress Themes:
- Using WordPress Themes
- The WordPress Theme repository – Find a theme to fit your site’s personality
- Blog Design and Layout
- Using Pages
At this point, there may be something about your chosen Theme that is bothering you, or, you really want to get your hands dirty understanding how your WordPress Theme works. These simple guides will help you learn about customizing your WordPress Theme:
- Lessons: Designing Your WordPress Site
- CSS Overview, Tips, Techniques, and Resources
- Stepping Into Templates
- Lessons: Template Files
- Stepping Into Template Tags
- Lessons: Working With Template Tags
- WordPress Template Tags
- Understanding the WordPress Loop
- The WordPress Loop in Action
- Editing Files in WordPress
- Frequently Requested Design Help
- Frequently Asked Questions about Site Layout and Design
If you want to create a new WordPress Theme from scratch, or do major renovations, or even design WordPress Themes for public release, you will need to be familiar with HTML, XHMTL, and CSS. The following documents will get you started:
- Developing Your Own WordPress Theme
- Validating a Website
- Lessons: Website Development
- CSS Fixing Browser Bugs
- CSS Troubleshooting
If you want a custom-made WordPress Theme created especially for you by expert web-designers, it is recommended you search for qualified web-designers on the Internet, or look in your local community.
There are many “add-on” scripts and programs for WordPress called Plugins that add more capabilities, choices, and options to your WordPress site. WordPress Plugins do many things, including; customizing the results of your site information, adding weather reports, adding spell check capability, and presenting custom lists of posts and acronyms. For more on how to work with Plugins and where to find WordPress Plugins for your site:
- Administration > Plugins > Plugins – Managing your plugins
- The WordPress Plugin repository – Find plugins to increase your site’s functionality
Advanced Use of WordPress
Now that you are familiar with the basic features and functions of how WordPress works, it might be time for you to plunge deeper into the power of WordPress. The links below will expand your familiarity with PHP, HTML, XHTML, and CSS:
- Lessons: WordPress Feature and Functions
- Lessons: WordPress Tech Techniques
- Using Permalinks
- Photoblogs and Galleries
- WordPress Advanced Techniques
- Advanced Techniques for Plugins and Customization
- WordPress Server and Database Information
- Developer Documentation
Need More Help
As simple and easy as it is to use WordPress, if troubles arise, if something is confusing, if things aren’t working, don’t despair because help is available! Even though WordPress is free and open source, there are literally hundreds of volunteers eager to help you. Here are some helpful resources for WordPress:
- Getting More Help
- Using the Support Forums
- WordPress Forum
- IRC Freenode WordPress Support on channel #wordpress
- WordPress IRC Live Help
Now that you’re a full fledged WordPress user, consider contributing to the WordPress Codex, Support Forum, Development, and other volunteer efforts that keep WordPress going. WordPress is free and totally supported by volunteers, and your help is needed.
As with many software packages, WordPress has its own lingo or jargon. This article will introduce you to some of the terminology used in WordPress.
Introduction to WordPress Terminology
WordPress was created by the developers as weblogging or blogging software. A blog, as defined in the Codex Glossary, is an online journal, diary, or serial, published by a person or group of people. Many blogs are personal in nature, reflecting the opinions and interests of the owner. But, blogs are now important tools in the world of business, politics, and entertainment.
Blogs are a form of a Content Management System (CMS) which Wikipedia calls “a system used to organize and facilitate collaborative content creation.” Both blogs and Content Management Systems can perform the role of a website (site for short). A website can be thought of as a collection of articles and information about a specific subject, service, or product, which may not be a personal reflection of the owner. More recently, as the role of WordPress has expanded, WordPress developers have begun using the more general term site, in place of blog.
Terminology Related to Content
The term Word in WordPress refers to the words used to compose posts. Posts are the principal element (or content) of a blog. The posts are the writings, compositions, discussions, discourses, musings, and, yes, the rantings of the blog’s owner and guest authors. Posts, in most cases, are the reason a blog exists; without posts, there is no blog!
To facilitate the post writing process, WordPress provides a full featured authoring tool with modules that can be moved, via drag-and-drop, to fit the needs of all authors. The Dashboard QuickPress module makes it easy to quickly write and publish a post. There’s no excuse for not writing.
Integral to a blog are the pictures, images, sounds, and movies, otherwise know as media. Media enhances, and gives life to a blog’s content. WordPress provides an easy to use method of inserting Media directly into posts, and a method to upload Media that can be later attached to posts, and a Media Manager to manage those various Media.
An important part of the posting process is the act of assigning those posts to categories. Each post in WordPress is filed under one or more categories. Categories can be hierarchical in nature, where one category acts as a parent to several child, or grandchild, categories. Thoughtful categorization allows posts of similar content to be grouped, thereby aiding viewers in the navigation, and use of a site. In addition to categories, terms or keywords called tags can be assigned to each post. Tags act as another navigation tool, but are not hierarchical in nature. Both categories and tags part of a system called taxonomies. If categories and tags are not enough, users can also create custom taxonomies that allow more specific identification of posts or pages or custom post types.
In turn, post categories and tags are two of the elements of what’s called post meta data. Post meta data refers to the information associated with each post and includes the author’s name and the date posted as well as the post categories. Post meta data also refers to Custom Fields where you assign specific words, or keys, that can describe posts. But, you can’t mention post meta data without discussing the term meta.
Generally, meta means “information about”; in WordPress, meta usually refers to administrative-type information. So, besides post meta data, Meta is the HTML tag used to describe and define a web page to the outside world, like meta tag keywords for search engines. Also, many WordPress-based sites offer a Meta section, usually found in the sidebar, with links to login or register at that site. And, don’t forget Meta Rules: The rules defining the general protocol to follow in using this Codex, or Meta, as in the MediaWiki namespace that refers to administrative functions within Codex. That’s a lot of Meta!
After a post is made public, a blog’s readers will respond, via comments, to that post, and in turn, authors will reply. Comments enable the communication process, that give-and-take, between author and reader. Comments are the life-blood of most blogs.
Finally, WordPress also offers two other content management tools called Pages and custom post types. Pages often present static information, such as “About Me”, or “Contact Us”, Pages. Typically “timeless” in nature, Pages should not be confused with the time-oriented objects called posts. Interestingly, a Page is allowed to be commented upon, but a Page cannot be categorized. A custom post type refers to a type of structured data that different that a post or a page. Custom post types allow users to easily create and manage such things as portfolios, projects, video libraries, podcasts, quotes, chats, and whatever a user or developer can imagine.
Terminology Related to Design
The flexibility of WordPress is apparent when discussing terminology related to the design of a WordPress blog. At the core of WordPress, developers created a programming structure named The Loop to handle the processing of posts. The Loop is the critical PHP program code used to display posts. Anyone wanting to enhance and customize WordPress will need to understand the mechanics of The Loop.
Along with The Loop, WordPress developers have created Template Tags which are a group of PHP functions that can be invoked by designers to perform an action or display specific information. It is the Template Tags that form the basis of the Template Files. Templates (files) contain the programming pieces, such as Template Tags, that control the structure and flow of a WordPress site. These files draw information from your WordPress MySQL database and generate the HTML code which is sent to the web browser. A Template Hierarchy, in essence the order of processing, dictates how Templates control almost all aspects of the output, including Headers, Sidebars, and Archives. Archives are a dynamically generated list of posts, and are typically grouped by date, category, tag, or author.
Templates and Template Tags are two of the pieces used in the composition of a WordPress Theme. A Theme is the overall design of a site and encompasses color, graphics, and text. A Theme is sometimes called the skin. With the recent advances in WordPress, Theme Development is a hot topic. WordPress-site owners have available a long list of Themes to choose from in deciding what to present to their sites’ viewers. In fact, with the use of a Theme Switcher Revisited Plugin, WordPress designers can allow their visitors to select their own Theme.
As the capabilities of WordPress have improved, developers have added various tools, Widgets, Menus, Background, Header, and Formats, to allow users to easily manage a site’s look and functionality. Widgets provide an easy way to add little programs, such as the current weather, to a sidebar. Menus make it easy to define the navigation buttons that are typically present near the top of a sites pages. The Background tool allows the user to change the background image and color of a site, and the Header tool gives the user control of the images displayed at the top of a site’s various pages. Formats allow the user to control the display of a specific post (i.e. display this post as an Aside or as a quote or as a galary). The WordPress TwentyEleven theme is an excellent example of a theme that uses these tools.
And speaking of the WordPress TwentyEleven theme, developers and users are encouraged to explore that theme in detail. The WordPress TwentyEleven theme, developed by the WordPress community, demonstrates the use of tools such as Menus and Widgets, provides examples of recommended theme coding techniques, and emphasizes the use of the Child Theme concept to shield a theme from getting overwritten during a WordPress update.
Plugins are custom functions created to extend the core functionality of WordPress. The WordPress developers have maximized flexibility and minimized code bloat by allowing outside developers the opportunity to create their own useful add-on features. As evidenced by the Plugin Directory, there’s a Plugin to enhance virtually every aspect of WordPress. A Plugin management tool makes it extremely easy to find and install Plugins.
Terminology for the Administrator
Another set of terms to examine are those involving the Administration of a WordPress site. A comprehensive set of Administration Panels enables users to easily administer and monitor their blog. A WordPress administrator has a number of powers which include requiring a visitor to register in order to participate in the blog, who can create new posts, whether comments can be left, and if files can be uploaded to the blog. An Administrator also defines Links and the associated Link Categories which are an important part of a blog’s connection to the outside world.
Some of the main administrative responsibilities of a WordPress blog involve adding, deleting, and managing Registered Users. Administering users means controlling Roles and Capabilities, or permissions. Roles control what functions a registered user can perform as those functions can range from just being able to login at a blog to performing the role administrator.
Another chief concern for the blog administrator is Comment Moderation. Comments, also called discussions, are responses to posts left for the post author by the visitor and represent an important part of “the give and take” of a blog. But Comments must be patrolled for Spam and other malicious intentions. The WordPress Administration Comments SubPanel simplifies that process with easy-to-use screens which add, change, and delete Comments.
And not to be forgotten is the obligation for an administrator to keep their WordPress current to insure that the latest features, bugs, and security fixes are in effect. To accomodate administrators, WordPress has a simple Upgrade Tool to download and install the lastest version of WordPress. There’s no excuse to not upgrade!
The Terminology of Help
The final set of jargon relates to helping you with WordPress. First and foremost is the hanging Help tab that is displayed under the each of the Administration SubPanels. That contextual help describes the function and use of the current SubPanel and provides links to other help topics. And, there are other help resources available to WordPress users; Getting More Help, Finding WordPress Help, Troubleshooting, and WordPress FAQ (frequently asked questions) are good starting points. Also Getting Started with WordPress will jump-start readers into the world of WordPress and the excellent WordPress Lessons provide in-depth tutorials on many of the aspects of using WordPress. Among the most important resources is the WordPress Support Forum where knowledgeable volunteers answer your questions and help solve any problems related to WordPress. And, of course, this Codex which is filled with hundreds of articles designed to make your WordPress experience a success!
History of the WordPress Name
Besides the technical terminology of WordPress, it’s also interesting to know the history of the name, WordPress. The name “WordPress” was originally coined by Christine Selleck (see related post) in response to developer Matthew Mullenweg’s desire to associate his new software project with printing presses. In this sense, press refers to the world of reporters, journalists, columnists, and photographers. An aptly chosen name, because WordPress serves as the printing press that enables its users to publish their words.
More Information and Resources
- The WordPress Glossary
- WordPress Features
- Advanced Topics
- Mailing Lists
- WordPress Support Forum
- Popular Codex Articles
- All Codex Articles
Let’s take a step-by-step tour through your WordPress site and learn about how all the different functions work and how to make your new site your own.
During the first part of this tutorial, we ask that you don’t change anything within the program, unless it is part of the tutorial. Just follow these simple steps and soon you will be changing everything.
Starting from the Top
Begin by logging into the Administration Panel. This is the brain behind your website, the place where you can let your creativity explode, writing brilliant prose and designing the best and most lovely website possible. This is where the organization of your site begins – and this is just the start.
From the Administration Panel, from the top of the screen menu choose View Site. Like it? Don’t like it? Doesn’t matter, just look at it. This is where you are going to be spending a lot of time over the next few minutes, hours, weeks, months….
Test Driving Your WordPress Site
Take time to look at the site before you get into the changing of things and figuring out how all of this works; it’s important to see how the default WordPress Theme is laid out and works. Consider this the test drive before you start adding on all the special features.
The layout you are looking at is called a Theme. It is the Presentation of your website, styling the look of the site. The default WordPress Theme features a blue “header” at the top with the title placeholder of your site. Along the side you will see some titles and links. This is your “sidebar menu.” Within the main middle section of the page is the “post.” At the bottom of the page is the “footer.”
Let’s look at the post for a moment. There is a title, and below the title is some information. This is called the post meta data and contains information about the post such as the date and time the post was made, the author, and the categories the post is in.
Scroll down the page and notice the bar at the end of the page. This is called the “footer,” and for now it says “(your blog) is proudly powered by WordPress.”
Back to the sidebar, you will see different sections with information. Among these you may find a list of Pages, Categories, Archives, Calendar, and Dates. This is part of the menu or navigation panel that people will use to move around your site, visiting posts from different categories or time periods.
It’s All in the Details
Take time to notice the smaller details of this web page layout and design. Move your mouse over the title of the article post. Notice how it changes color. This is called a hover. Most Themes feature a distinctive color or change when you move your mouse over a link. Move your mouse over any of the links in the sidebar. Do they change? Is the change the same? You can change your link hovers to look different in different sections of your page, but typically they should be uniform. Also look at the color of the links. How are they colored to stand out from the rest of the text?
Observe the small design details and where they are placed within the page. In the near future, you may want to change some of these details, such as the color of the title in the blue box at the top of the page. If you remember that is called the header then you will know to look within the header section of your style sheet, the file that controls the look of your web page, when you want to make changes to it.
Take a Quick Trip Around
For now you only have one post. It is residing within a page that is laid out as your home page or the front page. If you click on the title of the post, it will take you to the specific page for that post. The first page or home page of your site features the most recent posts on your site. Each post title will link to the actual page of the post. Some Theme designers design their single post pages to look different from the home page. By clicking on the title, you are taken to another web page that looks different from the home page.
Again, in the single post, pay attention to the layout and notice what is now different about the design elements. Is the header different? Smaller, larger, or a different color? Is there a sidebar? In the default Theme for WordPress, the sidebar disappears in the single post. Look at all the details and take note of the differences.
Posts are usually stored in categories so you can keep related topics together. Right now you only have one category, but will soon want more. Click on the single category that appears in the sidebar of the home page. You are now in a page that has been generated to display only the posts within that category. Again, take a look at the layout and see how it may be different from the home page and the single post.
Do the same with the Archives. You may only have one post, but look at how the pages are laid out. They may or may not change, but look at all of it to see how it all works.
All of these changes are created from only a few files called template files and you can learn more about how they work in Stepping Into Templates. For now, however, let’s get on with how the rest of WordPress works.
Test Drive the WordPress Admin Panels
Now that you have an idea of how your site looks and what the different layout sections are called, it’s time to test drive the WordPress Administration. This is like familiarizing yourself with the dashboard of your new website. In fact, the first page you see after logging in is called The Dashboard.
The Dashboard is a new feature in WordPress v1.5. It helps to keep you up to date on new and interesting bits of information from the many WordPress resources. In the corner it also features a list of the most recent activity you’ve done on your site.
Across the top of the Admin screen is the main menu, which says:
The links in the above list will take you to a series of articles that will guide you step-by-step through every aspect of the Admin panels. You’re anxious to get started, so for now, let’s start with the Users panel.
Click on the Users tab. The screen will change and you will see the panel called Profile. This is where you will enter information about you, the author and administrator of the site. In the next tab called Authors and Users you can set up more authors. Let’s stick with you for right now. Fill in the information and click Update Profile when done.
Now, let’s look at the powerful feature functions of the WordPress Admin.
Quick Changing the Look
The Presentation panel allows you to change the look of your site using Themes. Themes are presentation styles that completely change the look of your site. Designed by WordPress users, there are hundreds of themes available for you to choose from. In your Presentation panel, you will see two themes, classic and default. To try this quick-change process, simply select Classic and then click View Site to see how it looks. Wow, you have another look and nothing else on the site has changed. It’s that easy.
Go back to the Presentation panel (Back button on your browser) and select Default to bring the design back to what you had. To see it again, click View Site, and there it is. Honestly, it is that simple.
Writing and Managing Posts
Back in the Admin panel, take a look at the Write panel, and the Manage panel. You can use the tabs under the Write Menu to write posts and Pages. Using the tabs under the Manage menu, you can manage the posts and Pages in your site.
Let’s start by making your first test post in the Write Post tab.
If the screen looks a little intimidating, the Codex article on Writing a Post will take you step-by-step through the process of writing a post. Take a moment to read through the article and post your first entry and then return to this article and we’ll take you onto the next step.
If you are in a hurry, then simply fill in the blanks, one by one, in the post beginning with the title and then write a little test message in the post window. This is just for a test, so you can write anything you want. When you are done, click PUBLISH below the post entry window and it is done. You will then see a blank Write a Post screen and you’re ready to write another one. Go ahead. But do only three to four entries. We have more exciting work ahead of us.
Now that you’ve gotten a feel for writing posts, you can view your posts by clicking View Site at the top of the screen. Now it’s time to get down to the real work.
All good websites come from a good plan. Sounds redundant, but it’s true. If you want to create a good and solid website, you need a good and solid plan. I know it’s hard to do, and I know you want to keep poking and playing with this exciting program, but it is time to take a break away from your computer and turn to the old paper and pen. That’s right, we’re going back in time to when people actually wrote things down.
On a piece of notebook paper, or whatever is lying around, describe your site. Take five to twenty minutes to come up with a purpose for your site, or better yet, call it your Mission Statement.
Answer the following questions:
- What am I going to do with this?
- Who is going to read this?
- What kinds of information will I be posting?
- Why am I doing this?
- Who am I doing this for?
- How often am I going to be posting and adding information?
Now, compile this information into a paragraph so it looks like this:
and cover the topics of A, B, and C. The audience will
be __________ ________________ _______. I will be adding
posts every _____________ about ________ _______ ______________.
I am doing this because _____________ _____________ __________________.
Using the Information
From this exercise, we’ve gathered a lot of information. We’ve uncovered information on how you might layout and design your site. If you know your audience is mostly made up of young people under the age of 25, you will probably want a fashionable look ranging from wild colors and crazy graphics to dark foreboding tones. Something appropriate for that generation. If you are providing factual information about a serious subject, then you will probably want a more conservative look where the information is more important than a lot of pop and flash.
You probably already have a design idea in mind, or you will be copying over from your previous site, but take a moment to use this information to reconsider your design, and to see how what you want will work with the WordPress options.
You have also uncovered the possible categories for your site. The topics and subjects you will be covering are listed in your purpose statement. Let’s say your purpose statement said,
- “The website will be dedicated to providing news and information on computers, web pages, and the Internet and cover the topics of computer tips, web page design, and Internet news.”
Your topics are your categories. Write your categories down below your purpose paragraph and notes about your web page design.
Now, what subcategories might be under these topics? Under Computer Tips, you might want to segregate them by Windows, Linux, and Mac. Or maybe Software and Hardware. You can have sub-sub-categories, but let’s stop with subcategories for right now. Write these down.
Remember the question about why you are doing this? Is it because you have valuable and timely information or knowledge to share, because you want to talk about a subject that interests you, or maybe because you just think it will be fun to do. Why not? Everyone’s doing it!
Understanding the timeliness of the information you want to present on your site helps you organize the information on your website. Your website is organized by several different methods. If the date of when you posted the information is critical to the success of the page, then having links to your posts referenced by date is important. If the information itself is more important and timeless, then having your posts referenced by category is the best choice.
Have you noticed that you are starting to lay out your website? If you remember our earlier test drive of your new WordPress website, we examined the sidebar menu. This is the area where your past posts are organized. If you take another look (yes, you can go back to your computer for a moment), you will see the sidebar is laid out in a list by Archives by date, Categories by category, and may even feature a calendar (turned off in the Default Theme but visible in the Classic Theme).
As you lay out your website on paper, consider whether you want both categories and dates, or just one of them in your sidebar. What information you have and how you want to help the user find the information is critical to your website design.
What Information Do You Want to Share
As you think about what information the user will need to know, you have to consider what information you are willing to share with them. That information may include how to contact you, what the purpose of the site is, who you are, and what your expertise is.
WordPress v1.5 offers a new feature called Pages which makes the process of presenting this information in an easier fashion. Pages, similar to posts, are most commonly used to present unchanging information such as Pages for About Us, Contact Us, Sign Up for Our Mailing List, and other static information. Before creating your individual Pages, you need to think about what information you would like the Page to hold. Write down the possible Page titles and describe the information you are willing to share online on each Page.
Part of the fun of WordPress is the ability to have viewers leave comments on your site. It creates a dynamic interchange between you and the viewer. Do you want comments on your posts? Comments on posts come in a variety of forums, from pats on the back (Good job! Like the post!) to extensive conversations and commentary about the posts turning into long chats. Or maybe you are seeking comments that add to the information you’ve posted. How you present your comment form, and whether you do or not, invites people to comment.
Responding to comments and moderating them can also take up a lot of time. If they are critical to your site, then include them and consider how you want them presented. Go back to your test site; the first post created at the time of installation includes a sample comment. You can even make a few comments yourself on the posts you created. Take a look at how they are laid out and consider how you might want them to look to fit into the design and layout of your site.
When you have reached your decision about how you want to handle comments, take time to read through the article on comments and WordPress discussion options to help you set those features.
With this basic information, you are ready to return to your computer and start laying out your site and setting it up.
Setting Up Your Site
Before you get to the graphic look of your site, let’s do a little more administration to your site to set it up. Consider making your first plugin installation the Codex and Forum Searcher Plugin. It allows you to search both the WordPress Codex and WordPress Support Forum from your WordPress Administration Panels. Click on one of the search results and the page will open in a new window or tab so you can have the article or discussion open while working on WordPress. This will make your transition to WordPress a much gentler one with information right at your fingertips.
You can also work from this page by clicking on a link with a Right Click and opening the documents in a new window or tab, so you can read along as you work on your site.
Let’s start with making those categories written down on your list.
In the Manage > Categories tab, click Add Category and fill in the information about your category. Continue to add your parent categories, going down the list. Hold off on entering sub-categories until all the main categories are entered.
- NOTE: You can add any new categories any time, but make a note of the fact that categories can be sorted in WordPress in two ways: by name (alphabetically) or by ID number. As you enter the categories, they are assigned an ID number. It is difficult to change this, so if you don’t want your categories sorted alphabetically, enter them in the order you want to see them presented on the screen.
When you have the parent categories entered, enter your sub-categories. In the pull down menu for Parent Category, you can select the parent to the sub-category you are adding. When you view your categories in the Manage > Categories panel, you will see the categories listed like this:
- - Windows
- - Linux
- - Mac
Web Page Design
- - Web Standards
- - WordPress
- - – Plugins
- - – Themes
Put Posts in Categories
Let’s put some of your test posts into categories so you can see how this works.
From the Manage > Category panel, click on the tab for Posts. You should see the test posts you entered here. To the right are three links that say: View – Edit – Delete. Click on Edit to edit one of the posts. On the right side of the Edit Post screen you will now see your Categories. Choose one of them by clicking in the box next to it. Then scroll down the page and click SAVE. Repeat this for your other test posts, putting each one in a different category.
Now view your page by clicking View Site at the top of the Admin panel. Do you see the categories listed in the sidebar now? Great. If you are missing a category, that usually means that there are no posts in it. This is the default function of WordPress, so not to worry. When you add a post to the “missing” category, it will appear on your web pages. Click on one of the categories and you will be taken to a page for just that category. You should see the posts that went into that category. This is a generated Category page.
Now, click on the Archives for the month showing. Now you are visiting a generated page of your posts listed in chronological order for this month – well, specifically for today only. Two methods of finding the same information.
There is more to think about when it comes to having comments on your site. Unfortunately we live in a world where spam is a fact of life. It is recommended that you begin battling the comment spammers with the helpful article, Introduction to Dealing with Comment Spam.
What Is Next
You’ve now done all the basics for your new WordPress website. You know how to write a post, create a category, and how to view your site’s information by category and archive. You can start the customization process, and when you are done, don’t forget to delete your test posts! Then start writing some wonderful information to share with your new-found public!
Customizing Your WordPress Site
Once you are familiar with how WordPress works, it’s time to get creative and start customizing. The tutorial now splits into different subjects that require no order. From here on you can do whatever you want, adding and subtracting, perfecting and scrambling your site at will. The amount of effort you put into the site is now up to you. You can work with the two WordPress Themes that came with the installation, or seek out another Theme that better meets your needs. You can totally customize all the links and information, or get serious and completely re-design the entire site to do whatever you want. You have the basics, the rest is up to your imagination.
- Finding a WordPress Theme
- Look for one that better suits the look you desire on your site.
- Customizing the Look
- When you are ready to plunge into the code, you can customize the look and layout of the site through CSS and modifing the Themes (or create your own).
- Enhance Your Site with Plugins
- Plugins add function and sometimes fun to your site. There are hundreds of different plugins from adding custom links like related articles to your sidebar to adding weather reports.
There are hundreds of WordPress Themes to choose from. All do basically the same thing but graphically present the information in a myriad of ways. Choose a few that look interesting to you, and meet your audience’s needs and your desires, and then test drive them following the test drive instructions above. Click through the whole site, the categories and archives as well as the individual posts to see how the Theme handles each one. The look may be nice on the front page, but if it handles things in a way you don’t like on the single post, then you will have to dig into the code and make changes. Not ready for that, try another theme.
If you run into problems, check out the Codex’s Troubleshooting Themes article.
Customizing The Look
If you are familiar with CSS, HTML, and even PHP and MySQL, consider customizing the Theme to your own needs. This is not for the timid, and it is for the informed and experienced. If you want to expand your web page design and development skills, WordPress can help:
- Using Themes
- Theme Development
- Stepping Into Templates
- Templates Files
- Blog Design and Layout
- CSS Overview, Tips, Techniques, and Resources
- FAQ – WordPress Layout
- Stepping Into Template Tags
- Template Tags
- CSS Troubleshooting
- CSS Fixing Browser Bugs
WordPress Plugins are also known as add-ons or extensions. They are software scripts that add functions and events to your website. They cover the gamut from up-to-date weather reports to simple organization of your posts and categories. Plugins are designed by volunteer contributors and enthusiasts who like challenges and problem solving. They are usually fairly simple to install through the WordPress Admin Plugin panel, just follow the instructions provided by the plugin author. Remember, these are free and non-essential. If you have any problems with plugins, contact the plugin author’s website or plugin source first, then search the Internet for help with that specific plugin, and if you haven’t found a solution, then visit the WordPress forums for more help.
Above and Beyond the Basics
The exciting thing about WordPress is that there are few limits. Thousands of people are using WordPress for blogging and for running their websites. All have a different look and different functions on their sites.
What you do from here is up to you, but here are a few places to take that first step beyond the basics:
- WordPress Features
- Working with_WordPress
- Using Pages
- Understanding the WordPress Loop
- Using Permalinks
- Press It – Post to your site from the web instantly!
Getting More Help
What is a “blog”?
“Blog” is an abbreviated version of “weblog,” which is a term used to describe web sites that maintain an ongoing chronicle of information. A blog features diary-type commentary and links to articles on other Web sites, usually presented as a list of entries in reverse chronological order. Blogs range from the personal to the political, and can focus on one narrow subject or a whole range of subjects.
Many blogs focus on a particular topic, such as web design, home staging, sports, or mobile technology. Some are more eclectic, presenting links to all types of other sites. And others are more like personal journals, presenting the author’s daily life and thoughts.
Generally speaking (although there are exceptions), blogs tend to have a few things in common:
- A main content area with articles listed chronologically, newest on top. Often, the articles are organized into categories.
- An archive of older articles.
- A way for people to leave comments about the articles.
- A list of links to other related sites, sometimes called a “blogroll”.
- One or more “feeds” like RSS, Atom or RDF files.
Some blogs may have additional features beyond these. Watch this short video for a simple explanation for what a blog is.
The Blog Content
Content is the raison d’être for any web site. Retail sites feature a catalog of products. University sites contain information about their campuses, curriculum, and faculty. News sites show the latest news stories. For a personal blog, you might have a bunch of observations, or reviews. Without some sort of updated content, there is little reason to visit a web site more than once.
On a blog, the content consists of articles (also sometimes called “posts” or “entries”) that the author(s) writes. Yes, some blogs have multiple authors, each writing his/her own articles. Typically, blog authors compose their articles in a web-based interface, built into the blogging system itself. Some blogging systems also support the ability to use stand-alone “weblog client” software, which allows authors to write articles offline and upload them at a later time.
Want an interactive website? Wouldn’t it be nice if the readers of a website could leave comments, tips or impressions about the site or a specific article? With blogs, they can! Posting comments is one of the most exciting features of blogs.
Most blogs have a method to allow visitors to leave comments. There are also nifty ways for authors of other blogs to leave comments without even visiting the blog! Called “pingbacks” or “trackbacks“, they can inform other bloggers whenever they cite an article from another site in their own articles. All this ensures that online conversations can be maintained painlessly among various site users and websites.
The Difference Between a Blog and CMS?
Software that provides a method of managing your website is commonly called a CMS or “Content Management System”. Many blogging software programs are considered a specific type of CMS. They provide the features required to create and maintain a blog, and can make publishing on the internet as simple as writing an article, giving it a title, and organizing it under (one or more) categories. While some CMS programs offer vast and sophisticated features, a basic blogging tool provides an interface where you can work in an easy and, to some degree, intuitive manner while it handles the logistics involved in making your composition presentable and publicly available. In other words, you get to focus on what you want to write, and the blogging tool takes care of the rest of the site management.
WordPress is one such advanced blogging tool and it provides a rich set of features. Through its Administration Panels, you can set options for the behavior and presentation of your weblog. Via these Administration Panels, you can easily compose a blog post, push a button, and be published on the internet, instantly! WordPress goes to great pains to see that your blog posts look good, the text looks beautiful, and the html code it generates conforms to web standards.
If you’re just starting out, read Getting Started with WordPress, which contains information on how to get WordPress set up quickly and effectively, as well as information on performing basic tasks within WordPress, like creating new posts or editing existing ones.
Things Bloggers Need to Know
In addition to understanding how your specific blogging software works, such as WordPress, there are some terms and concepts you need to know.
A blog is also a good way to keep track of articles on a site. A lot of blogs feature an archive based on dates (like a monthly or yearly archive). The front page of a blog may feature a calendar of dates linked to daily archives. Archives can also be based on categories featuring all the articles related to a specific category.
It does not stop there; you can also archive your posts by author or alphabetically. The possibilities are endless. This ability to organize and present articles in a composed fashion is much of what makes blogging a popular personal publishing tool.
A Feed is a function of special software that allows “Feedreaders” to access a site automatically looking for new content and then post updates about that new content to another site. This provides a way for users to keep up with the latest and hottest information posted on different blogging sites. Some Feeds include RSS (alternately defined as “Rich Site Summary” or “Really Simple Syndication”), Atom or RDF files. Dave Shea, author of the web design weblog Mezzoblue has written a comprehensive summary of feeds.
A blogroll is a list, sometimes categorized, of links to webpages the author of a blog finds worthwhile or interesting. The links in a blogroll are usually to other blogs with similar interests. The blogroll is often in a “sidebar” on the page or featured as a dedicated separate web page. BlogRolling and blo.gs are two websites that provide some interesting functions or help related to blogrolls. These sites provide methods for users to maintain these rolls effortlessly and integrate them into weblogs. WordPress has a built-in Link Manager so users do not have to depend on a third party for creating and managing their blogroll.
A feed is a machine readable (usually XML) content publication that is updated regularly. Many weblogs publish a feed (usually RSS, but also possibly Atom and RDF and so on, as described above). There are tools out there that call themselves “feedreaders”. What they do is they keep checking specified blogs to see if they have been updated, and when the blogs are updated, they display the new post, and a link to it, with an excerpt (or the whole contents) of the post. Each feed contains items that are published over time. When checking a feed, the feedreader is actually looking for new items. New items are automatically discovered and downloaded for you to read. Just so you don’t have to visit all the blogs you are interested in. All you have to do with these feedreaders is to add the link to the RSS feed of all the blogs you are interested in. The feedreader will then inform you when any of the blogs have new posts in them. Most blogs have these “Syndication” feeds available for the readers to use.
One of the most exciting features of blogging tools are the comments. This highly interactive feature allows users to comment upon article posts and link to your posts and comment on and recommend them. These are known as trackbacks and pingbacks . We’ll also discuss how to moderate and manage comments and how to deal with the annoying trend in “comment spam”, when unwanted comments are posted to your blog.
In a nutshell, TrackBack was designed to provide a method of notification between websites: it is a method of person A saying to person B, “This is something you may be interested in.” To do that, person A sends a TrackBack ping to person B.
A better explanation is this:
- Person A writes something on their blog.
- Person B wants to comment on Person A’s blog, but wants her own readers to see what she had to say, and be able to comment on her own blog
- Person B posts on her own blog and sends a trackback to Person A’s blog
- Person A’s blog receives the trackback, and displays it as a comment to the original post. This comment contains a link to Person B’s post
The idea here is that more people are introduced to the conversation (both Person A’s and Person B’s readers can follow links to the other’s post), and that there is a level of authenticity to the trackback comments because they originated from another weblog. Unfortunately, there is no actual verification performed on the incoming trackback, and indeed they can even be faked.
Most trackbacks send to Person A only a small portion (called an “excerpt”) of what Person B had to say. This is meant to act as a “teaser”, letting Person A (and his readers) see some of what Person B had to say, and encouraging them all to click over to Person B’s site to read the rest (and possibly comment).
Person B’s trackback to Person A’s blog generally gets posted along with all the comments. This means that Person A can edit the contents of the trackback on his own server, which means that the whole idea of “authenticity” isn’t really solved. (Note: Person A can only edit the contents of the trackback on his own site. He cannot edit the post on Person B’s site that sent the trackback.)
SixApart has published an official trackback specification.
For example, Yvonne writes an interesting article on her Web log. Kathleen reads Yvonne’s article and comments about it, linking back to Yvonne’s original post. Using pingback, Kathleen’s software can automatically notify Yvonne that her post has been linked to, and Yvonne’s software can then include this information on her site.
There are three significant differences between pingbacks and trackbacks, though.
- Pingbacks and trackbacks use drastically different communication technologies (XML-RPC and HTTP POST, respectively).
- Pingbacks do not send any content.
The best way to think about pingbacks is as remote comments:
- Person A posts something on his blog.
- Person B posts on her own blog, linking to Person A’s post. This automatically sends a pingback to Person A when both have pingback enabled blogs.
- Person A’s blog receives the pingback, then automatically goes to Person B’s post to confirm that the pingback did, in fact, originate there.
The pingback is generally displayed on Person A’s blog as simply a link to Person B’s post. In this way, all editorial control over posts rests exclusively with the individual authors (unlike the trackback excerpt, which can be edited by the trackback recipient). The automatic verification process introduces a level of authenticity, making it harder to fake a pingback.
Some feel that trackbacks are superior because readers of Person A’s blog can at least see some of what Person B has to say, and then decide if they want to read more (and therefore click over to Person B’s blog). Others feel that pingbacks are superior because they create a verifiable connection between posts.
Verifying Pingbacks and Trackbacks
Comments on blogs are often criticized as lacking authority, since anyone can post anything using any name they like: there’s no verification process to ensure that the person is who they claim to be. Trackbacks and Pingbacks both aim to provide some verification to blog commenting.
Comment Moderation is a feature which allows the website owner and author to monitor and control the comments on the different article posts, and can help in tackling comment spam. It lets you moderate comments, & you can delete unwanted comments, approve cool comments and make other decisions about the comments.
Comment Spam refers to useless comments (or trackbacks, or pingbacks) to posts on a blog. These are often irrelevant to the context value of the post. They can contain one or more links to other websites or domains. Spammers use Comment Spam as a medium to get higher page rank for their domains in Google, so that they can sell those domains at a higher price sometime in future or to obtain a high ranking in search results for an existing website.
Spammers are relentless; because there can be substantial money involved, they work hard at their “job.” They even build automated tools (robots) to rapidly submit their spam to the same or multiple weblogs. Many webloggers, especially beginners, sometimes feel overwhelmed by Comment Spam.
There are solutions, though, to avoiding Comment Spam. WordPress includes many tools for combating Comment Spam. With a little up front effort, Comment Spam can be manageable, and certainly no reason to give up weblogging.
Permalinks are the permanent URLs to your individual weblog posts, as well as categories and other lists of weblog postings. A permalink is what another weblogger will use to refer to your article (or section), or how you might send a link to your story in an e-mail message. Because others may link to your individual postings, the URL to that article shouldn’t change. Permalinks are intended to be permanent (valid for a long time).
“Pretty” Permalinks is the idea that URLs are frequently visible to the people who click them, and should therefore be crafted in such a way that they make sense, and not be filled with incomprehensible parameters. The best Permalinks are “hackable,” meaning a user might modify the link text in their browser to navigate to another section or listing of the weblog. For example, this is how the default Permalink to a story might look in a default WordPress installation:
How is a user to know what “p” represents? Where did the number 423 come from?
In contrast, here is a well-structured, “Pretty” Permalink which could link to the same article, once the installation is configured to modify permalinks:
One can easily guess that the Permalink includes the date of the posting, and the title, just by looking at the URL. One might also guess that hacking the URL to be /archives/2003/05/ would get a list of all the postings from May of 2003. Pretty (cool). For more information on possible Permalink patterns in WordPress, see Using Permalinks.
Blog by email
Some blogging tools offer the ability to email your posts directly to your blog, all without direct interaction through the blogging tool interface. WordPress offers this cool feature. Using email, you can now send in your post content to a pre-determined email address & voila! Your post is published!
If you’re using Pretty Permalinks, the Post Slug is the title of your article post within the link. The blogging tool software may simplify or truncate your title into a more appropriate form for using as a link. A title such as “I’ll Make A Wish” might be truncated to “ill-make-a-wish”. In WordPress, you can change the Post Slug to something else, like “make-a-wish”, which sounds better than a wish made when sick.
Excerpts are condensed summaries of your blog posts, with blogging tools being able to handle these in various ways. In WordPress, Excerpts can be specifically written to summarize the post, or generated automatically by using the first few paragraphs of a post or using the post up to a specific point, assigned by you.
Plugins are cool bits of programming scripts that add additional functionality to your blog. These are often features which either enhance already available features or add them to your site.
WordPress offers simple and easy ways of adding Plugins to your blog. From the Administraton Panel, there is a Plugin Page. Once you have uploaded a Plugin to your WordPress plugin directory, activate it from the Plugins Management SubPanel, and sit back and watch your Plugin work. Not all Plugins are so easily installed, but WordPress Plugin authors and developers make the process as easy as possible.
Basics-A Few Blogging Tips
Starting a new blog is difficult and this can put many people off. Some may get off to a good start only to become quickly discouraged because of the lack of comments or visits. You want to stand out from this crowd of millions of bloggers, you want to be one of the few hundred thousand blogs that are actually visited. Here are some simple tips to help you on your way to blogging mastery:
- Post regularly, but don’t post if you have nothing worth posting about.
- Stick with only a few specific genres to talk about.
- Don’t put ‘subscribe’ and ‘vote me’ links all over the front page until you have people that like your blog enough to ignore them (they’re usually just in the way).
- Use a clean and simple theme if at all possible.
- Enjoy, blog for fun, comment on other peoples’ blogs (as they normally visit back).