Behind The Curtains of a WordPress Website

When you buy a new car you usually take it for a test drive first. Same goes for your website – you want to see how it works before you commit to buying it. In this blog I’ll give you a tour of a typical WordPress website so you can see how simple and easy this platform is to use.

Dashboard

When you first log in to your WordPress website, you’ll be sent to the Dashboard. This is a quick glance of what’s happening on your website, including how many posts and comments you have, and whether there are any software updates, etc.

On the left, you’ll see a black sidebar. These are all the functions you can control on your website. Skimming down you can see the option to open your posts, media, or pages libraries, review comments, etc. Clicking on any one of these options will open a new page where you can edit your website features. 

Page design

If you’ve ever worked in Mircosoft Word then creating a new page will be relatively simple. While you’ll need to know some website design to create elaborate pages, a simple page with a few images, text, links, and buttons is as easy to set up as creating a Word document.

The view in the image above is the Visual view (as indicated by the selected Visual tab on the top right of the page editor). If you want to edit the HTML on the page (like embedding a video from YouTube, for example), you do so by clicking the Text tab on the top right of the page editor and pasting your code where you want the Youtube video to show up on the page.

You can choose a website theme that has SEO* settings built into it, and you can add advanced SEO settings by adding a plugin like Yoast SEO.

*This is where you’ll use keyword research to increase the chances your website will show up on the first page of a Google search.

Media library

If you want to add an image or document to your website, you can easily upload it to the Media Library. In order to keep your site running quickly, only upload low-resolution images (72 ppi) or add an image compression plugin. Big files or images will slow your site down and cause people to click off. Once images are in the library, you can resize them on different pages or posts.

To add a document, like a PDF, to a page, first upload it to your media library and then copy the URL and paste that into the link on your page.

I don’t recommend uploading video or audio files directly to your WordPress website as they’ll eat up space quickly. It’s better to use YouTube or SoundCloud to host your video and audio, and then copy the embed link from those sites and paste them onto your page. If you want to create private videos for an online course I recommend using the paid version of Vimeo.

Plugins

Plugins add more functions to your website, and there are plugins for just about anything imaginable. You can find Google Analytics plugins to view your website statistics, membership, e-commerce, image gallery, and more.

Figure out what you want your website to be able to do first before going plugin shopping, because it can take a lot of time to find the right plugin for what you want. Choose plugins that have a high star rating, a lot of installs, and remember to always read the reviews. An important note here is that you want to make sure the plugin you choose is compatible with your version of WordPress. Some are outdated or no longer supported.

Customizing the look of your website

You can change some of the theme settings on your website through Customization (accessed from your Dashboard > Appearance > Customization). You’ll want to leave any major changes to your website designer, but here you can change colour, menu, and homepage design options. You can preview changes before saving them. If you don’t like the change, simply close the Customization window to go back to your Dashboard.

There are other customization options under the Appearance menu on your Dashboard as well.

Cascading style sheets

Cascading Style Sheets help you consistently format the design of your website, such as the space around the edge of your pages, the colours of your links and headlines, what fonts your website uses, and more. If you’ve never edited CSS before, then I don’t recommend touching this area. This is where a good website designer comes in!

There are several other areas in WordPress where you can edit the way your website looks and functions. However, for the sake of simplicity, I’ll cap it here for now. If you’ve been waiting to start your own website, create a free account with WordPress and give it a try! If you run into any snags along the way, or if you learn better through 1-1 tutorial, reach out to book an appointment with me and we can go over the basics in person. 

Good luck – and remember to have fun!