Are you ready to become a WordPress ninja?
by Tom Ewer
For the well-initiated, WordPress a pretty intuitive Content Management System (CMS). Those of us who have been using it for a while can get around it with ease.
But cast your mind back to when you were a beginner. I distinctly remember being rather overwhelmed with the sheer breadth of options available to me. And yet, in reality, WordPress is easy to use. It’s a just a case of knowing the right things.
And that is the purpose of this post – to pull together all of the basic information that a complete WordPress beginner should know from the outset. Learning all of the tips and tricks below should save beginners a lot of time (and headaches). And who knows – even if you have been using WordPress for a while, you may well learn something new!
First of all – congratulations. In picking WordPress, you have made (in my humble opinion) the right choice. WordPress will quite possibly be the last CMS you ever use.
First of all, get started with an introduction to blogging.
If you want full control of your blog, you must start with self-hosted WordPress. The software itself is free – you will only pay a nominal sum for a domain and hosting.
Once installed, make sure that your blog is set up correctly.
You may want to set your user profile(s) up.
Your blog will be nothing without a theme. Whilst the default Twenty Eleven theme is okay, it is somewhat lacking in features (or design pizzazz). Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to you.
If you want to avoid malicious or outdated and insecure code, only ever download themes from trusted sources. Here’s why.
Of course, you shouldn’t forget the WordPress Themes Directory.
And if you’re looking for the best new free themes available for WordPress, keep an eye on our free themes of the month feature.
Plugins represent the beating heart of WordPress. Its enormous growth over the past few years is largely down to the huge number of plugins that have been released – most of which are completely free.
It doesn’t matter how many plugins you install – it is the quality of those plugins that makes the difference.
Take a look at 20 free WordPress plugins that provide mainstream extensibility to your blog.
If you’re planning on having a lot of content, you’ll definitely want a good search box on your site.
Of course, you shouldn’t forget the WordPress Plugins Directory.
And if you’re looking for the best new free plugins available for WordPress, keep an eye on our free plugins of the month feature (are you getting deja vu?).
You’re likely to spend the vast majority of your time in WordPress writing posts and pages, so you should take the time to understand all of the workings of the New Post/Page screens.
Make sure that you know the difference between posts and pages.
Check out these 7 New Post/Page features that you may not know about.
If you feel a little constricted by the Visual Editor, check out the screen real estate you get with the Distraction Free Editor.
Although WordPress itself is a publishing platform (rather than a promotional platform), that does not mean that you can’t get some of your promotional tasks done from within WordPress – especially if you install the right plugins.
Don’t concern yourself too greatly with SEO – just follow these simple steps.
You’ll probably be using Twitter. Here’s how to integrate it perfectly with your WordPress blog.
Optimization, Maintenance and Management
Making sure that your WordPress site remains a well-oiled machine is both important and heavily neglected in equal parts. Keeping your blog well-optimized, maintained and managed is of vital importance – make sure that you keep on top of it.
You must back up your site regularly.
Don’t forget to do your housekeeping every once in a while.
You’ll soon get fed up of receiving a notification every time someone leaves a comment on your site – they are much easier to handle via the Comments tab in the sidebar.
We are all responsible for the past and future success of WordPress. It relies upon open source contributors to make it what it is. You could be one of those contributors.
Free plugin developers work very hard, and often for no reward. Take a moment to thank the developers of the free plugins that you use.
If you want to contribute to continuing WordPress development and/or support, you’re never too inexperienced to make a start.