WordPress Basics Tutorial – [How To Use WordPress]
Let’s be honest. All of us want to be professional overnight. But the reality is even the best in any field had to start somewhere first. Everyone had to learn the basics and it is only the true masters that understand how important the basics are in any field. Here we are going through the WordPress Basics Tutorial to learn how to use WordPress from the start. Whether you have worked in WordPress for many years, or never touched it before. This is information anyone needs to know before being able to design any website.
Welcome to the WordPress login page. Normally you can find this page by going to <yourdomain>/wp-admin in your URL section. This will depend on your security settings. Some people change this default login URL and think it’s better for security. After extensive research, we found that this is not the best security method as it can cause other problems. More on Security in a later lesson.
As you can see from the above picture you are presented with 2 fields to enter information in order to log in. This will be your username or email address and your password. The administrator login details are normally chosen when you install your Website. Otherwise, the login details will also be provided by someone that has previously set up your user on the website.
Remember Me Button
On this page, there is also a “Remember Me” button. This will keep you logged into your website for 2 weeks. If this button is not checked you will be automatically logged out of your website after 2 days or when your browser cookies are cleared.
Lost Your Password Button
There is also a “Lost your password?” button that you can click which will allow you to enter your Username or Email address and if your Username or Email address exists it will send an email to you with a link to reset your password.
As part of the WordPress Basics Tutorial, you will need to understand everything from the beginning as even the smallest things missed can make everything hard for you in your web designing/developing journey.
Once you have logged in you will notice a menu bar on your left side. Every menu item will take you to a different section of your backend. The backend is what we call the place where we change all the settings for your website and design your website. This backend area can’t be seen by any visitors of your website and is designed only for the website designers working on your website.
The items you see in the menu will depend on the permissions that are set for the user you used to log in to WordPress. Administrator users will be able to see all the menu items including plugins that are installed, while users with other sets of permissions will only be able to see certain sections. These permissions are set by WordPress roles. WordPress has a few default roles on the initial installation but in order to add more roles or edit roles, a plugin will need to be installed in order to adjust this.
Also, keep in mind that some permissions or plugins can even stop users with certain roles to even get into the backend at all. Some users might just have permission to see something on the front end. The front end is the part of the website that visitors actually see.
The WordPress Dashboard is a place that can show a broad overview of what is going on with your website. It can show anything from statistics to errors to news or suggestions. Depending on which plugins you have installed and what you have set to be shown on the dashboard this can be a good place to just have a quick and broad overview of your website without needing to go into every section one by one.
Most sections you go into like the dashboard, pages, posts, etc have a drop-down menu at the top which says “Screen Options”. This is where you can decide what should be shown on the screen and what should be hidden. The options displayed here again depend on what themes, plugins, etc you have installed. But most people miss this section and end up struggling to find out why they are not seeing certain information or even how to hide unnecessary information. Just simply click the “Screen Options” drop-down menu and click the tick to show or take the tick away to hide information on that screen.
WordPress And Plugin Updates
Some menu items also have sub-menu items. Underneath the dashboard section, you will also find the updates sub-menu item. When clicking this menu item you will be taken to a section where if you have any outdated plugins or themes, it can easily be updated from this section by selecting the items and clicking update. You can also update your WordPress version from this section as well.
Do keep in mind before doing any updates to make a backup of your website or to first test the updates on a staging or duplicate website in order to test if your website is still working after the updates. Sometimes updates can break your website, which is why we choose to manually do updates in order to allow us to test if everything is working after the update.
Updates are important and should not be delayed for too long as this can expose weaknesses in security when delayed for too long. You will also not have all the newest features or fixes if everything is not up to date.
What Are Posts
The next section of the WordPress Basics Tutorial is the posts section and is where you will be able to create blog posts, articles, or any form of new information which is not your standard pages. The difference between posts and pages is, pages are used for static content which means these pages do not change and are designed to mostly stay the same. Posts are normally timely content that is regularly updated.
Posts normally have an author, a timestamp, a comment section and will belong to a category or can even have tags assigned to it. When the time stamp gets old, a good strategy is to normally update the post with newer information in order to keep it relevant.
Posts are very good and normally used for blogs, but do not have to be its only use. Depending on your strategy posts can be used for a wide variety of strategies. By understanding the difference between posts and pages can really help you with optimizing search engine results to gain more traffic to your website.
How To Create Posts
By clicking the “Add New” button you will be taken to a new area where you can start by creating your post. Depending on your theme and plugins you this might be easy and look good, or hard and look terrible. We highly recommend installing the Divi Theme to make designing posts and pages so much easier.
This new area will have a few fields. The title section at the top is where you will put the title of your post, while the section right underneath it will allow you to enter the content for the post. There are a few buttons to style the formatting of the post as well.
Posts Side Section
On the side section, there will be a few expandable windows where you adjust additional settings for your website. This includes things like :
In this section, you can the status of the posts between draft, pending review, or published. Only published posts will be shown to visitors. You can also adjust the visibility of the post to be public, password-protected, or private. And you can even modify the date and time the post was published.
Under this section, you should have pre-made categories if you have set up them before. Other you can create and manage the categories from inside the post. You can assign which categories are sub-categories and which are the parent categories. This allows you to create a hierarchy of categories to easily manage posts. Do note while it is possible to manage these categories within posts, there is an easier category manager under Posts > Categories.
Tags are just a different way to categorize posts in WordPress by adding words that do not specifically belong in a category hierarchy structure. But this tag system also creates a group structure of its own. When a visitor clicks on a tag in the front end it will take the user to a tag page where all posts with the same tag are also displayed. Same as the categories page, this also has an easier manager when going to Posts > Tags.
The featured image is the image the posts will use in a few different ways. Normally it will be used in a thumbnail when the post is listed as a clickable item somewhere else on the website. For example, a listing page that shows all posts and images of those posts. The featured image will also be used as the header when a user goes into the post. And the featured image can also be used in other places like when people share the post on social media.
The media section is the place where you upload and manage all the files you want to use on your website. Normally most people will upload mostly images here to be used on the website but are not limited to only images. You can easily drag and drop files here to be uploaded or just by clicking the add new button and browsing to the location of the files to be uploaded. The media section also allows you to view by list or grid view and you can even select and delete multiple files here at once with bulk actions. The only other thing to note from this section is that you can select any file to view additional details like permalink, file URL, uploaded time, file size, and other details. You can also search for files by file name or rename files here. The rest of this section is mostly self-explanatory.
What are pages
Pages are a bit different than posts as pages are normally used in a timeless manner. Meaning it should be created to be used for long-term information. Pages do not have a timestamp thus normally do not need to be updated all that often. This does not mean that you cannot update these pages as it is perfectly possible to update these pages when you feel the need but generally speaking, these are updated less frequently than posts and contains less time relevant information than posts.
For example, a contact us page will normally be a page as while it is possible for your email address to be changed, it normally does not happen that frequently. Promotions or current newly released product information might rather be posted as a post as promotions expire and newer releases are more likely to happen than you changing your email address.
Creating a page is very similar to creating a post as it also contains a Title section, a content section, a URL section, and various options on the sidebar section. But as you will notice pages cannot belong to categories or have tags. To understand the other setting of the sidebar please visit the posts section above as these have already been explained and are very similar in pages.
The comments section is an easy place to be able to see all the comments visitors have left on your website. Comments can assist with Search Engine Optimization when being used correctly. But in order for it not to destroy your rankings, you need an area to monitor this and this is it. Here you can see who commented, on what page or post and you will also be able to approve the comments here if your settings are set up for it to be pending first.
Generally speaking, comments are mostly used on posts rather than pages. While it is perfectly possible to enable comments on pages as well, most people find this a bad idea due to the way pages and posts differ.
The WordPress Basics Tutorial can’t be complete without covering the Appearance section which has a few different subcategories we will cover below.
The themes section is the place where you can upload themes for WordPress which is a way to completely change the entire look at feel of your website. Depending on which theme you use, it can change everything from how you design your website, the functionality of your website, more settings, Menu bars, etc. Every theme is different and these themes change the PHP coding of your website.
There are ways to change the PHP coding of WordPress yourself but unless you know PHP, it is better to just search for a theme designed by someone else to do this for you. You can find lots of FREE themes by just clicking the “Add New” button, but paid themes are normally better and can be found on an external website. We recommend the DIVI theme which is one the best themes we have ever used.
The customize section is where you can change some global settings for your website. On the initial install, this section covers things like site identity, menu structure, homepage settings, etc. Most of these can be found elsewhere on the website as well. But this can give another view of a lot of those settings grouped into easily navigatable sections to change your website at a faster pace lots of the time without or minimal loading times in comparison to navigating to these sections individually elsewhere.
If you install certain themes, some of these themes can also add additional settings to the customize section like adjusting the font for the entire website. How the website should structure colors for different elements on the website etc. Once the necessary is changed you can just click publish to apply it to the entire website.
The widgets area is the place where you will be editing what needs to be on things like your sidebar (if you chose to add a sidebar to a page) or footer. In the cases where you might have multiple sidebars, this is also the place where you would be able to see them.
You can add widgets to these areas, adjust the widgets and decide which order the widgets should display in. Depending on your layout style you should also be able to adjust which widgets go wherein both the verticle and horizon axis for the footer area of your website.
There are many different types of widgets to use, but some themes and plugins can also add additional widgets in this area for you to use. Simply click the plus button to show the widgets and then drag a widget to the sidebar or footer slots in the order desired and then configure the widget.
This is the area where you can configure your menus like your main menu, secondary menu, or other types of menus. These menus can be used in different areas like the top of your website, the footer, sidebars, etc.
You first need to create a menu, give it a name and assign where the display location should be. If the display location is selected as the Primary menu then this menu will be used at the top of your website as your main menu.
Secondary menus on the other hand can be used in other locations like the footer or sidebar. You can easily add Pages, Posts, Custom Links, or even categories to the Menu bar. If you go to the custom link on the left you can even add HTML code.
Theme Editor Section (PHP Editor)
We will not be going too deep into this section. In short, this is the place where you will be editing theme files. Most people use this section to edit the PHP files.
WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND NOT TO MESS WITH THIS SECTION UNLESS YOU ARE EXPERIENCED AND KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!!
This is another very important section on the website as this will allow you to implement plugins that will improve and change the way your website functions. Most of the things not included in the theme’s that your want your website to be able to do will mostly be found in plugins.
Plugins will add PHP, CSS, HTML, and other code automatically to your website in order for the required functions described by the plugin to work.
There are quite a lot of companies and people that develop plugins for WordPress. A lot is free, but you also get paid and premium plugins. By going to the plugin section and clicking the “Add New” button you will be able to install a huge amount of FREE plugins. There is a search bar where you type a keyword and will be presented with any related plugins to that keyword. By clicking the “Upload Plugin” button you can also upload plugins for websites not found through the search bar.
Do however note that you should try to avoid installing too many or unneeded plugins as each plugin does consume more resources from your hosting provider and can decrease your website’s speed if you install too many plugins. Also just install one plugin per function requires otherwise if you install more than one per function you can cause plugins to clash with each other and completely break your website.
Regarding the settings for each individual plugin, you will need to contact the developer or read through the plugin notes. Visit the following page to learn more about the 18 Most Important Things After Installing WordPress
The user section is very simple. This is where you can add users in the back-end and assign roles to them. Roles are what defines which permissions they have on the website. By default, WordPress comes with 6 roles. Namely: Subscriber, Contributor, Author, Editor, Administrator, and SuperAdmin.
A subscriber is someone that can only manage their own profile and has no control over posts or pages. A contributor is someone that can manage and write their own posts and pages, but they are not able to publish them. So that means it will never be visible to front-end users unless someone else with publishing permissions decides to publish it.
An Author is someone that is able to write and publish their own posts and pages but is not able to edit anyone else. An editor is someone that can edit and publish any post or page. This means if someone else posted something an editor can easily edit their posts as well. An administrator is someone that can manage all the administrative features of a website like a plugin and theme settings. Lots of these settings are not available to any of the previous roles. And a SuperAdmin is someone that has access to the website’s network administrative features.
Some plugins will add additional roles that can also be used or you can also install a plugin that will allow you to individually set the permissions and create new roles.
We are not going to cover too much in the tools area in this WordPress Basics tutorial. But a broad overview will be that there will be different import/export options for data and some other plugins can also add their options under this area.
One place that is worth looking at is the Site Health area where you will be able to see some checks for the website. This might be anything from security suggestions to performance improvements.
The settings section will obviously show different types of settings you can adjust for your website.
Under the general settings, you will be able to change things like your website title and tagline which will be displayed on a new tab at the top of your browser. You will also be able to modify the URL, however, we strongly recommend not to change the URL unless you know what you are doing. You can also set the administrator email which will receive emails from the website. There are also other things here like time settings and membership settings.
Here you will be able to change the default category that posts will use. You can change the default post format. If you have the classic editor plugin installed you will also be able to choose between using the classic editor or block editor. You can enable or disable users from switching editors. And you can also change your default mail server.
Here you will be able to set whether you want your home page to display posts, or change your home page to a pre-made page in the pages section. You can also set your posts page as well. You can specify how many blog pages to show and if you want posts to display full text or only a part of the posts when listing more than one post with links. Lastly here you will be able to tell search engines like google whether you should be listed on the search results or not. Normally people set it to not be listed until they are finished building the entire website.
In the discussion settings section of the WordPress Basics Tutorial, you will be able to change anything when it comes to comments on blog posts.
The “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the post” settings when enabled will allow your website to send out a ping to a site or article you have put a link to from your website. This ping will show on the website you have pinged, but only if they have allowed pingbacks.
The “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new posts” settings are where you can allow pingbacks from another website to your website. Personally, I disable this as spammers have used this method a lot to spam your website.
The “Allow people to submit comments on new posts” is where you can allow or disallow comments to be published on your posts.
The “Comment author must fill out name and email” settings are very useful in preventing spammers from spamming your comments section of your website as this will force the commenter to also add a name and email address before being allowed to comment on the post.
The “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” is another great setting in stopping spammers as this will also give a little extra work to anyone wanting to comment on the posts and only allow people that are registered and logged in to comment.
You can close the comments section after a certain number of days with the “Automatically close comments on posts older than _ Days” setting. However, I normally don’t do that as the comments section can really help you with just that little bit extra to boosts your SEO. It’s not much, but every bit helps and it shows the search engines that your posts and website are active.
You can also specify how deep the threaded (Nested) comments should be with the “Enable threaded (nested) comments _ levels deep” setting. For example, if someone replies on a reply on a reply. It could end up looking terrible eventually. Thus limiting this can help in the comments section looking a little bit tidier.
The “Break comments into pages with…” setting will allow you to break the comments into pages. Again if there are too many comments on one page it can start looking terrible, so specifying how many comments to allow per page can help improve how neatly your posts look.
You can control what email notification you want to receive in the “Email me whenever” section. For example when “Anyone posts a comment” or “A comment is held for moderation“.
You even have more control over when comments are allowed to appear with the “Comment must be manually approved” setting which keeps the comments in a queue for you to approve the comment before its displayed on the front end of your website. As well as the “Comment author must have a previously approved comment“
Lastly, you can control if the comment should be held for moderation if it contains a certain amount or higher links with the “Hold a comment in the queue if it contains _ or more links“.
So permalinks is the format used for your URL (Uniform Resource Locator) which is the address of your web page. For example, the URL of this website’s home page is wpseonoob.com and the blog you are reading is found at wpseonoob.com/wordpress-basics-tutorial.
Here you can change the format to display the part of the URL after the /. For example, you can choose to use dates before the post’s name, to include or exclude the category the post falls under, as well as many other settings. Most people just use the “Post Name” setting as this is normally the best setting when it comes to SEO.
There are a lot of settings in WordPress and can be confusing when first starting out with WordPress. But if you follow this WordPress Basics Tutorial you can easily understand the basics of how to design a website with WordPress. While we do not cover every single detail of WordPress, this is a very good starting point. Also, keep in mind when installing new themes or plugins, more settings can be added or even changed. This tutorial covers the settings from a stock standard install point of view. We really hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you would like to improve your knowledge in WordPress and Search Engine Optimization follows some of our other articles as well as we are determined to teach everyone from beginner to expert.