WordPress Complete Guide For Beginners
If you would like to download the Ebook containing all this information in PDF format, you can download it by going here.
The Complete WordPress Tutorial for Beginners
First we have to clarify that this WordPress tutorial for beginners talks about the self hosted WordPress CMS software. And not about the free wordpress.com blog platform. Which is cool but it has some disadvantages to owning your own hosted site/blog. For reasons we are not going to discuss here.
This guide contains practical stuff needed in your day to day use of WordPress. That means you will only learn the practical side of things, that are needed to know for the day to day use of WordPress.
So why only practical stuff?
That is because it decreases the learning curve. And at the same time, makes you ready as soon as possible for the day to day use of WordPress. Hope you will find the information contained here helpful.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Complete WordPress Tutorial for Beginners
- 2 GETTING STARTED
- 3 INSTALLING WORDPRESS
- 4 LOGGING IN
- 5 THE DASHBOARD
- 6 THE ADMIN BAR
- 7 WORDPRESS SETTINGS
- 8 POSTS
- 9 Adding a New Post
- 10 PAGES
- 11 CREATING POSTS & PAGES
- 12 THE MEDIA LIBRARY
- 13 THE POST EDITING AREA
- 14 WORDPRESS THEMES
- 15 WORDPRESS PLUGINS
- 16 WIDGETS
- 17 CUSTOM MENUS
- 18 USERS
- 19 COMMENTS
- 20 FINAL WORDS
- 21 Download The Complete WordPress Guide for Beginners eBook
This e-book will cover the installation of the self-hosted WordPress CMS. And this means there are 2 requirements you need to have before beginning the installation.
What you will need:
- A domain name
- A hosting plan
Getting a domain name
The first thing a website needs is a domain name to be accessed. Getting a domain name is fairly easy and you can do so by going to domain name registrars like Bluehost, Namecheap, GoDaddy etc.
But what I would recommend is getting the domain name for free when you sign up for the hosting plan.
So when you register for a hosting plan, a lot of web host companies offer a free start up domain name for you to use.
More on that below.
Setting up a hosting plan
There are a lot of web hosts out there, but what you would want to look for, is a web host that is optimized for WordPress. And the one I recommend and personally use is Bluehost. Mostly because you get much more for what you pay for. At the same time Bluehost is actually a recommend web host by WordPress itself.
Alternatively if you are short on money, you can go ahead and register for a plan at Small Orange, that has prices that can not be beaten. You can start for as little as $ 1.46/Month with the Tiny plan. With this low price the Tiny plan does not contain a free domain name however.
After you have chosen your hosting plan and your brand new domain name we now are able to continue with the installation part.
Now this is when we actually go and install the WordPress CMS, after we have set-up the hosting and domain.
There are two ways to go about this:
- Installing it automatically
- Installing it manually
For beginners, I would recommend going for the automatic method. It is less painful and much more easier than doing it the manual way.
But, sometimes WordPress can not be installed using the default automatic installer. For that reason we will go through the manual install as well.
Automatic Install Scripts
There are several automatic install scripts build into web hosts Cpanels. But, the one we are going through in this example is the Mojo one available for Bluehost.
- Head over to the cPanel, and click on the install scripts link, as you can see on this picture (The last menu item):
- You will see the Mojo Marketplace for Bluehost. There we just have to click the One-Click Installs green button:
- Then we choose WordPress as an install option.
- On this page right here:
Select the domain you registered before. This way the WordPress files will be stored in the root directory of the domain.
- Check the terms and conditions and click on Install Now.
- After a while the Once-Click Install script will finish installing WordPress. After we will need to enter some simple data like the Site Title, Username, Password, etc.
Finally, after you have followed all these steps, WordPress should be installed.
Manual WordPress installation
If for some reason you can not install WordPress automatically then you can do so manually.
You just need to follow these steps:
- Go to this link > https://wordpress.org/download/. And download WordPress from there.
- After the download has finished, we go ahead and go to the Bluehost cpanel and look for the File Manager icon.
- Then we will be redirected to the file manager panel. There we will need to enter inside the public_html folder.
- Inside the public_html folder we need to click on upload.
- Inside Upload we just have to select the WordPress installation zip we downloaded earlier.
- After the uploading has finished, go back to the File Manager and hit refresh to view the zip file. Then select the uploaded zip file and extract it.
- When it has finished extracting, click refresh and go inside the wordpress folder. Select all the folders and items inside there and move them to the “public_html” folder.
- We finished putting all the WordPress files in place. So we have to create the database now. We do this by going back to the Cpanel and clicking on MySQL Databases.
- Create a database
- Create a new database user
- Assign the user to the database you just created
- Make sure the user is assigned to the database. Then we need to set the permissions the user needs to make changes to the database.
- Then go to http://your-domain.com. There, the WordPress installation wizard will show up
- Choose the language
- Insert the data for the following fields
- Database Name: the name of the database you created
- User Name: the user name of the user you created for the database
- Password: the password you created for the database user
- Database Host: leave it as “localhost”
- Table Prefix: leave it as “wp_”. Or change it if you plan to have more than one WordPress installation on the same database. Or maybe, to add some extra security.
- On the next page
- Site title: the title that your site/blog will have
- Username: the username of the administrator you wish to create
- Password: insert a password for the administrator
- Your Email: just insert a valid email address which you can later use to reset your password in case you forget it
So these are the two methods of installing the WordPress CMS. Hope you can go through the installation part without looking at this quick guide. 🙂
After installing WordPress, we can now login and begin to use the so much loved CMS.
To login you have to navigate to one of these URLs:
After going to one of those URLs you will see a screen like this:
This is where you need to enter the created credentials to access the WordPress dashboard.
After you complete the login process you will get redirected to the WordPress dashboard. The dashboard, even though it will never be seen by users it is one of the most important parts of your website.
Why is it so important?
Well here you can change the template, install plugins, create posts & pages, create menus, upload images, audios, videos etc.
So, before we go into detail about the sections of the dashboard, lets take a quick look at the welcome screen:
The first part of the dashboard you will notice is the Welcome to WordPress! section. It is created to help you get started with WordPress and contains shortcuts to some common tasks.
The At a Glance section contains information about how many posts, pages and comments your site contains. Plus the WordPress version and theme currently installed at the bottom.
The Quick Draft section is where you can make a quick draft (who knew) about an idea you might have for a future post.
The Activity section contains the recently published posts and comments.
And the WordPress News sections contains the latest news about WordPress.
These are the sections the welcome screen contains. If you want to remove one or two of these, you can do so by clicking first at Screen Options. Which is located on the top right corner of the screen and uncheck the undesirable sections.
THE ADMIN BAR
The WordPress admin bar can be seen on both the backend and frontend. Which is just a simple menu bar positioned on the top.
Hovering on the WordPress logo you can see links to the documentation, about, support forums etc.
On the second menu item you go to the dashboard. The third one, Customize, is where you can make changes to the site and theme. Some changes include changing the title, tagline, logo, colors etc. We will go into more details later about the Customize section.
Then we have the edit comments menu item. And after that the new menu item containing shortcuts to create a new post, page, media, user.
The first thing beginners need to get familiarized to is the settings area. This is where you can change your site setup.
The settings area contains these sections:
In here you can change the most basic settings of your site setup. Some of these settings include:
- Site Title: the title of your website which gets displayed on the top of every page (and sometimes not, depending on the theme), on the title bar of the browser etc.
- Tagline: this is like the slogan of your site and might be displayed on the frontend. Depending on the currently installed theme of course.
- WordPress Address & Site Address: these on default will be the same, and in most cases they will. But on some cases you would want the WordPress files installed in a different directory than the domain root. In that case then you can change the WordPress Address.
- Email Address: the email address where you will be notified about almost anything happening on your site.
- Membership: you can choose if you want users to register to your site or not.
- New User Default Role: this sets the default role new registered users will have (eg. Subscriber).
- Timezone: the timezone of the WordPress system.
- Date Format: can change the format of the date displayed on the site and dashboard.
- Time Format: just like the date format you can change the format of the time.
- Week Starts On: sets the first day of the week (No monday anymore?)
On this section you can change the way you submit the content on your site.
- Default Post Category: the default category posts will be assigned to.
- Default Post Format: what post format is used as default.
- Posts via email: you can set an email account to which you can send an email containing your post content. After that the content inside the email will be published as a post on your site. Having said that it is important to have an email address which no one knows about. For that reason you should use an email like: 7OGvcaax@your-email.com. To set it up you need to input the mail server and login credentials of the email address.
- Update Services: this is where your posts get pinged after they are published. What does pinging do? It just send a message to search engines such as Google, that you just published a new post and adds it to the search results.
This other section contains the settings that affect the display of your content.
- Front page displays: can set what your front page displays. For example, it can be set to show your latest posts (default), or a static page.
- Blog pages show at most: how much posts are shown on blog, archive, category pages.
- Syndication feeds show the most recent: can set the maximum number of posts to display on RSS feeds.
- For each article in a feed, show: controls the way the content is displayed in feeds. Showing full content or just a summary for example.
- Search engine visibility: sets if your site can/can’t be crawled by search engines. If not, then your site will not be shown on the search results of search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc).
The discussion settings section contains (like the name suggests) a LOT of settings to manage and modify the way comments are displayed on the site.
- Default Article Settings: has options such as disallowing comments on posts, disallowing pingbacks etc.
- Other comments settings: contains options such as: putting name and email fields on every comment form, allowing only members to comment, close comments after a certain amount of time has passed since the publication of the article at hand etc.
- Email me whenever: sends email notifications when someone comments.
- Before a comment appears & Comment Moderation: includes moderation options for when a comment is submitted.
- Comment Blacklist: here you can blacklist a list of words that can be inserted in the text area on the right.
- Avatars: a bunch of options regarding the way avatars, default avatars and comment ratings are displayed.
This is where you can change the setting of the uploaded files.
- Image Sizes:
- Thumbnail Size: the exact size of the thumbnails and the option to crop or not to an exact size.
- Medium Size: changes the size for medium sized thumbnails.
- Large Size: changes the size for large sized thumbnails.
- Uploading Files: uploaded files can be organized by year and month based folders.
Permalinks are the URLs of every section of your site. Such as: posts, pages, categories, different archives etc. A permalink is the link to a certain content on your site and it has to be permanent and never be changed.
WordPress offers the possibility to add custom URL structures for your permalinks.
- Common Settings: here we can change the URL structure of posts. Including options such as: plain, day and name, month and name, numeric, post name or custom.
- Optional: here you can add a custom structure for category and tag base URLs.
And with that now you have a basic understanding about the settings WordPress comes out of the box with. What I would recommend is messing with this options for a little bit by yourself. Just to get more familiar with how these settings work.
Now that the boring stuff is past us, we can concentrate on what makes WordPress… well WordPress. And what else but posts, would we be talking about? Seeing that WordPress is a blogging platform at heart, it would not be so without posts.
The posts section can be accessed by clicking on Posts in the menu at the left. After clicking you will see a screen like this:
This is where all the posts that are published, drafted or trashed get listed.
Adding a New Post
To create a new post we can go ahead and click on the Add New button at the top. Then we will be sent to the New Post page where we can actually write our awesome content.
As you can see on the image on the left, the two main fields on this page are:
- The Title field, which contains the title of the post.
- Post Editing Area, which is where the content of the post is inserted and contained. And we can write in two modes in this area:
- The visual version, where it is just like Word or Pages.
- Or the text version. Which enables us to enter the content just like in notepad without any text formatting. This way we have to enter the code manually for many things like lists, paragraphs, etc.
In addition to the title and content of the post, here we can create and/or select a category for our post.
To do that we go ahead and take a look on the right sidebar:
In the first box we can publish our post and change some publishing options as well.
In the next box we can insert/delete and assign categories to that particular post. Then we can modify tags in the same way as categories.
In the last box on the right we can assign the featured image for the current post.
But, what are featured images? Well they are images that get show on the preview of the post on blog, category, tag, archive listings of posts.
To make the site more user friendly and organized there are categories. As the name suggests, they are used to group similar posts into categories. For example: if you are on a fitness blog and click on the supplements category, you will only see posts categorized under that.
So… how to add a new category?
A new category can be added while you are adding a new post. Or on the Category section by going to the left menu bar and clicking on Categories in the Posts menu item.
After going there, you can view all the categories on the right side and at the left side you can insert a new one.
The image on the left is a screenshot of the left area where new categories can be added. A new category can be added by inserting the name of the category, the slug, the parent and a description for that category.
To add a new category, you need to complete the category name field. The other ones such as the slug, parent, description are optional.
Ok, so we learned how to add a new category but how can they be modified or deleted? Well its easy to do so by hovering to the specific category you would want deleted. Then clicking on the delete link that shows up. And the same thing goes for editing the category.
Tags are much like categories in the sense that they are keywords related to a post. But they do not have relations between them. So, they do not have any hierarchy. Basically, tags are keywords that identify information about your post. While categories are pre-determined sections.
We will not be going into creating, editing or deleting tags since it is the same process as the categories without the parent/child relations.
Pages are a way to create and publish content to our website. But, we could create content for our websites using posts… so why would we need pages to do the same exact thing… right?
Well, in part you would be right seeing that pages, just like posts contain the content for our site. But they differentiate in the fact that pages are static and not part of the chronological blog stream.
Also pages can not be categorized or tagged. They can only be nested within one another. So if we choose one page as the parent page, then we can select some child pages to put under that parent page. In this way pages do have some form of hierarchy.
How do we add a new page?
It is the exact same process as posts but here instead of categories and tags we have Page Attributes.
The Page Attributes box contains:
The parent option, which is where pages can be arranged in hierarchies. For example, you can have an About page that has a “Life Story” page under it.
The order option sets and overrides the order the page is listed in a loop (by default pages are sorted alphabetically).
And on some certain themes, there is another option named Template. And it displays a list of page templates that can be assigned to a page. This means we can assign different page templates to change the way the content is displayed to the user.
To conclude the pages discussion, all you need to remember is:
Pages are used for static pieces of content, that do not get updated often or never at all. And posts on the other hand are part of the blogging aspect of your website.
CREATING POSTS & PAGES
Here we will go into the different publishing and visibility options of posts and pages.
First we have to create a new post or page. To do that we go to either Posts > Add New or Pages > Add New.
The next step would be to finish creating our post and then hitting the big blue Publish button on the right. Then our post/page will be immediately added to the site.
But what about programming the posts/pages to be published in the future?
To do so, go to the publish box on the right and click on the edit link on the right of the publish immediately option. Then we select the date and time of publication, hit ok and then publish.
Not every time we go into WordPress, write everything we have to write, insert engaging media, review it etc. And then hit the publish button, right on the spot.
Creating great content takes time. And we might come back several times to the content at hand, to modify it a little bit. For that reason WordPress has the option to save posts or pages as drafts.
To create a draft, you just put some content on your post/page then on the publish box, hit the Save Draft button. After that our post/page will be saved as a draft, waiting to be edited and published at a later date.
Visibility on the other hand includes options for settings if the post/page will be visible for the public, setting posts as sticky, password protecting and making them private.
THE MEDIA LIBRARY
Creating original and valuable content for your posts is the most important part. But the content will seem boring without including one element.
What is this element? You might ask.
Media files, of course. Even the most awesome piece of content will look boring without including some engaging media content.
Media files in WordPress are all listed on the Media Library in a chronological fashion. And to go to the media library, we click on the Media menu item on the left.
After we will see the Media Library page. There we can see all the uploaded files we already put into the site. As well as some options to view, edit or permanently delete files (like it’s shown on the picture below).
By clicking on an image, we can edit the metadata of the selected file. Some editable metadata include: the title, caption, alternative text and description. These are helpful for SEO reasons, especially the alternative text. Because search engines can not actually read images, they instead look on the alternative text.
But wait, there is more:
When you click on the edit image button under an image, WordPress allows you to make some simple editing to the selected image.
Some of those editing options include:
Rotating the image left/right, flipping it vertically/horizontally, scaling to new dimensions, cropping and as well as options for undoing and redoing.
Inserting images to posts and pages
After going through the media library now it’s time to insert images to your content. First we go to create a new post at: Posts > New Post. Then insert a title and your content (In this case I have inserted some Lorem lipsum).
Select the place where you want your image to appear, then click on the Add Media button at the top.
Then you will see a popup where you can upload or select an already uploaded image to insert on the post.
And after selecting the desired image click on Insert into post.
At first the inserted image by default will have no align. And it will look something like this:
To change that, just click on the image and select one of following options that will popup: Align left, align right, align center. In this case we will select the align left option. And after that it will look like this:
THE POST EDITING AREA
This is one of the most important parts of WordPress, seeing that you will be spending most of the time here.
As previously mentioned, the post editing area has two versions. The visual and text versions.
The text version is just a plain text editor like notepad and you would have to insert actual HTML tags. And for that reason it is rarily used. Especially by beginners.
The visual version is the most used one since it’s like MS Word. It contains some formatting icons at the first row of the top toolbar.
The first three are the bold, italic and
strikethrough icons (see what I did there 😉 ).
Next two are the bulleted & numbered lists.
Then we have the blockquote, that wraps as you might have guessed it, quotes.
The Horizontal line creates a horizontal line to divide the content.
Align left, center and right icons are used to align content. Respectively on the left, center and on the right.
The next two are: Insert link & Remove link, that as the names suggest, insert and remove links.
Insert Read More tag, limits content to a certain length then inserts a read more tag.
And the last one is the Toolbar Toggle that toggles between one or two rows on the toolbar. After clicking it the second row with other options will show up.
The first item on the second row changes if the selected text is going to be a paragraph, a heading or preformatted text.
Then we have the underline icon, justify icon, text color icon, paste as text icon (which copies text without source formatting), clear formatting, special character (inserts a special character that can be chosen from a list of them), decrease/increase indent, undo, redo and the keyboard shortcuts icon (which shows a list of handy keyboard shortcuts).
WordPress uses themes as a way to style the frontend part of the website. As well as changing the way the content gets presented. So a WordPress theme does not only change the design of the site. It also changes the way the content is shown to the user. And on top of that, it also changes the functionality of your website.
Themes are an essential part of WordPress seeing that changing the theme can make your site look a lot different.
Meaning: a site with the same pieces of content will look totally different on different themes.
Having said all that, WordPress themes are categorized in two categories: free and premium themes. Out of the box, WordPress includes three free themes to choose from.
There are several ways to install new themes into WordPress. But here we will cover only two:
The Theme upload option (manual way)
First we go to Appearance > Themes where we can see all the currently installed themes. Then we click on Add New.
At the top of the screen, near Add Themes, we can go ahead and click on the Upload Theme button.
Afterwards, we can see this screen:
So pretty much, what we have to do now is to choose the theme files (compressed in a zip) and click on Install Now. After installing we can go on and activate the theme.
The Theme Directory search inside the WordPress backend
That aside… to search for a theme go to Appearance > Themes then click on Add New.
In the screen above we will select a theme, and in this case the Suits theme. After clicking it we can see a preview of the theme.
After finding what we were looking for, then we can just hit the install button on the left panel. Then after the theme gets installed we can go ahead and click the activate button as well.
After activating the new theme, if we go look into our site we can see that the entire look and feel of our site has changed.
Now, changing the theme of our site is cool and all. But what if we wanted to customize the theme a little bit?
Well for that there is some little thing called The Customizer. And the cool thing about the customizer is that while you make changes to the appearance of the site, it previews them live before publishing the changes. It also lets you navigate through different pages on your site without losing the changes.
To access the customizer go to Appearance > Customize.
The WordPress customizer is made up of two main parts. The side panel where it contains all the customization the theme supports.
Other than giving you options to customize the theme, the customizer also offers a live preview of the changes you are making to the site.
We will try to change the theme colors to test it out. We click on Colors and select the background color and put a yellow color into it. Same thing for the header text color (preview below).
Plugins are add-ons for WordPress themes, and add extra functionality to them.
Plugins – as stated on the WordPress documentation – are composed of PHP scripts that extend the functionality of WordPress. They are useful when your theme does not have the required functionality you need for your website.
Just like themes, plugins are also divided in two main categories:
- Free plugins
- Premium plugins
But for the most common things there are plenty of free plugins available. So I wouldn’t worry about having to buy a new plugin for every single functionality you would need to add.
A plugin can be installed the same way a theme can. Manually, by uploading the plugin files. Or the automatic way, by searching for the plugin in the plugin directory inside the dashboard.
Some useful plugins to install
From the numerous plugins out there, I personally recommend the following plugins:
Contact Form 7: useful plugin to create contact form really easily for your website. Must have plugin.
WP Super Cache: a caching plugin that generates static files and speed up WordPress sites by a lot.
Yoast SEO: the most complete SEO plugin you can have.
Meta Slider: creates the opportunity to create responsive slideshows.
iThemes Security: protects your website from getting hacked.
Widgets are independent sections of content that can be placed into any widgetized area provided by your theme. These widgets get added on sidebars, site footers etc.
To access the widget manager page, we go to Appearance > Widgets.
As you can see from the image above, we can take the widgets from the left and drag them to the desired sidebar on the right.
The anatomy of a simple text widget
Besides the text widget, there are other default widgets that come out of the box with WordPress.
The list of the default WP widgets: Archives, Calendar, Categories, Custom Menu, Meta, Pages, Recent Comments, Recent Posts, RSS, Search, Tag Cloud, Text.
In WordPress we can create custom menus with items that may contain links to pages, posts, categories, tags and custom links. These menus can be displayed in locations defined by the installed theme or sidebars using the Custom Menu widget.
To create a custom menu we can do so by using the Customizer. But in this case we are going to create a menu in the specific section for managing menus. We navigate to Appearance > Menus to go to that section:
To create a new menu, we add the menu items to the menu. Put a descriptive name for the menu, which will not be seen on the frontend. After that, we make sure the menu items are all there and perfectly arranged. Then we may go on and hit the Create Menu button.
After our menu is created, all that is left to do is to add it to a widgetized area. Or add it to one of the Theme locations after we create our menu. The Menu Settings appear below our menu items after we have created our menu.
After selecting a location for the custom menu (Navigation Menu in this case), we go on to our site and see that the custom menu has been added.
WordPress out of the box comes with a user management system. Meaning you can add new users to the site and set their actual role. And roles pretty much contain a list of permissions a specific user has.
The default user roles:
The Administrator includes all the permissions to the administrative features within a single site. By default this is the role given to you when you after finishing a WordPress installation.
The Editor can add, publish, edit and delete all the posts, including posts added by others. So pretty much they can manage all the content but not the theme, plugins etc.
The Author user role permits the creation, publishing, editing and deletion of posts. But only deals with the management of the posts created by the author. Also can’t create new categories or manage existing ones for that matter.
The Contributor can create new posts, edit self created posts but cannot publish them. On top of that contributors can’t even uploading files such as images.
The Subscriber user role permits to only manage it’s own profile. Ultimately, subscribers can only comment on a site.
Creating a new user
To create a new user we go to Users > Add New. Then on the next page we enter all the required data. The required data are the username, email and password for the new user.
After completing all the fields, at the end we have a select box where we can select the role for the new user. Then we may hit the Add New User to finish adding the user.
The comment system is one of the most useful functionalities of WordPress. Comments allow the readers of your site to respond with their own unique thoughts and ideas about what your post is about.
What I like about WordPress is that managing comments is quite the same as managing posts and pages.
After a registered user or visitor views a posts they have their own opinion they want to write about, they can comment on that particular post.
Adding a new comment
Comments can be added by registered users or simple site visitors on the frontend of the site. For registered users it’s a little bit easier to add new comments since they don’t have fill the name and email fields.
After a site visitor is finished reading your blog post, he can leave a reply at the bottom of the post.
Just like we can see on the picture above, the visitor has to fill the comment, name, email and website fields. After hitting the Post Comment button, the comment will be added for moderation.
Now the comment should be approved by going to the WordPress dashboard then going to the Comments section.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that comments can be activated/deactivated for posts and pages alike.
New comments on your site can be approved, deleted or even set as spam.
At LAST we are finished. If you have went through all the content in here you can go ahead and manage your WordPress website like a pro.
We went from getting a domain name and hosting to installing WordPress, logging in, changing the site settings, publishing new posts and pages, putting them on a menu, uploading media files and all the way to managing users and comments.
Hope you enjoyed this content. I have seriously put a lot of work into it. And it would be great if you show some support by sharing it with your friends, if it helped you to better understand WordPress.
WordPress Complete Guide For Beginners
If you would like to download the Ebook containing all this information in PDF format, you can download it by going here.