This document addresses the basics of getting started with the website building tool WordPress, and will address installing and using WordPress, working with page and website templates, and adding widgets and plugins to the website.
To set up an internet website, you need to consider three aspects: administration, hosting, and design.
Websites used to be created using coding languages by advanced programmers. As the internet has proliferated, website creation tools, sometimes called website editors, have evolved. Some popular website building platform providers include WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, and Network Solutions.
WordPress is available free for use as a self-hosted version from WordPress.org, and a hosted version for a fee from WordPress.com. Those who already have a website hosting and location provider subscription, could start with the free WordPress.org website. Limitations with the free version include fewer options in website themes and built-in plugins.
Let's explore setting up and using WordPress:
Other options include linking WordPress from your hosting providers management interface or Control Panel. For example, the "cPanel" on Linux-based hosting providers could use the WordPress-Lite toolkit for free, if WordPress is not available as a site building option.
The scenario below describes the process for creating a free login on WordPress.com.
A website communicates various messages through its webpages. The information provided could be about a person, a company, a product, service, or an idea. The message communicated is referred to as "content". In WordPress a website is created using a combination of "pages" and "posts" to share content.
Pages are used for content that remains the same for a long time. For example, a home page, landing page, and an "About Us" page will feature contact information, and information about products or services that is not likely to change often. Posts are content that have a shorter shelf life or priority. For example, news, blog post, or an industry article.
A "Theme" is what controls the overall look and feel of a website. It is like a template for the website or webpage. A theme determines how your website will be structured, where content can be placed, where and if images and videos can be placed, the position of menus, how your website can be navigated, and what fonts and colors are used. The theme you select will also determine if features like activity tracking, search engine optimization, ecommerce, online payments and forms are possible. Themes are usually professionally designed templates that are coded with some of the above considerations in mind.
Best practice: Having the final content available for your website as you build it will help you decide what theme and template will best suit your website. For example, content with many short shelf-life messages is best implemented with a theme that has a higher focus on posts and blogs.
Themes are available for selection on WordPress under the Administration Panel My Site > My Home > Design > Themes:
On accessing the Themes page, a range of themes are available for selection.
The theme page displays:
WordPress has a suggested structure for building out the website, as shown below:
Clicking on “Visit Site” takes the administrator to the draft view of the website. This view will become the final view when you publish the site.
Now that we have a theme selected, we can start giving our website an identity. While the identity parameters are optional, having them allows for a standard website structure that helps website visitors understand and navigate the website. The site identity consists of the following components:
The site identity components can be accessed by following the Administrative Page My Site > My Home > Design > Customize > Site Identity
Now that we have the website identity set up, we can work on website navigation. Good website navigation helps visitors easily find the information they want, and directs them to take a required action, such as completing a form, making a call, or buying a product or service. A website that is easy to navigate allows for a smooth and satisfactory user experience and helps encourage users to visit again.
Having content created and ready helps you plan a menu structure on WordPress. WordPress offers a flexible approach and new pages can be added, moved, or removed as needed.
Additional information on Menus can be found on multiple internet sources including: Site Menus – Support — WordPress.com.
Once content and menus are organized, it’s time to work on:
Getting a bit more hands on, let's have a look at each of the customized options:
Using “Choose a Palette” allows preconfigured color options for the website.
Homepage Settings: Control what visitors see on the homepage. For example, an administrator could apply settings so that site visitors see latest posts or land on a static page.
Plugins are applications that can be "plugged in" to your website. Plugins provide pre-coded capabilities that enable user and administrative features to be quickly set up. WordPress has a huge repository of free plugins and plugins you can buy. Choose a plugin if it adds value to your user’s experience and enhances the message you want to communicate. Typical plugins make it easy to fill in forms, upload images, track website activity by visitors, have chat boxes, ensure security, and more. Plugins are accessed by navigating on the Administrative page to My Site > My Home > Tools > Plugins
Additional information on working with WordPress can be accessed from multiple sources including: Support – Official WordPress.com Customer Support
We started with the basics needed to have a website on the internet: Administration, Hosting, and Design. After understanding how to setup WordPress.com, the article focused on WordPress as a tool to help with the Design aspect of the website. We covered an overview of WordPress Design aspects like webpage and website themes, site identity, and customization of the website. In customization we explored navigation through menus, working with colors and palettes, inserting pages, widgets, and plugins.
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