I think most people in business these days have heard of WordPress, but just in case you haven’t WordPress is a Content Management System for building websites using a language called PHP, which is easy to use, search engine friendly and makes it simple to keep your website up to date.
WordPress was originally created back in 2003 as a tool for building blogs, but in the last 17 years it has become so much more and is now a great tool for the small (and even large) business website.
In theory it is possible to build a WordPress website with very little technical knowledge, but there are some tricky areas and even if you don’t want to do-it-yourself it’s still useful to have some basic knowledge of the system, so I thought I’d put together a quick guide of some of the areas that I have found useful over the years.
A WordPress Theme allows the user to change the look and feel of their website without altering the core code. All WordPress sites require a theme to be present, but some can be used to create bespoke designs and some are pre-designed so that the beginner can create a great looking website without technical know-how. Both free and paid for Themes are available from a huge number of developers, with different levels of design and support available.
A WordPress Plugin allows the user the extend the functionality of the website. This could include ecommerce, contact forms, search engine optimisation, analytics and even security. Once again paid and free plugins are available and different plugins require different levels of technical no-how to use. Some Themes will force you to include certain plugins to run their Theme – just go with it…they know what they are talking about!
Posts and Pages
The two main types of page content in WordPress are Posts and Pages, in general the Pages are used for information content such as Services, Case Studies etc and the Posts are used for your blog, FAQ or news section. The layout of both types of pages will be determined by your Theme, either bespoke or template.
Other Types of Content
Other kinds of content such as Slider Banners, Portfolios, Team Sections can be controlled by your Theme or Plug ins. Before choosing a Theme ensure that you know what content you intend to have in your site, so you can be sure that the Theme will have areas for all of it and you won’t have to squeeze it in odd places.
You can manage your site’s navigation in the Appearance section under Menus. Here you will be able to add Posts, Pages and Categories and drag and drop the menu structure to get the navigation to look how you want it.
Also in the Appearance section is Widgets – this is where you can configure the content that appears in your side bar or footer sections of your website.
One last useful area of Appearance is Theme Options. If you have selected a Theme Template, so that you don’t have to do the design work yourself, this is where you will be able to adjust it (to a certain extent). You may be able to control your site logo, the order sections appear on the home page, your colour scheme, contact details and social media links. Different themes will allow different levels of personalisation. If you find you cannot alter something get in touch with the developer you got the theme from to see if they can alter it for you. You are more likely to get a good result with this if you have paid for your Theme.
I would ALWAYS advise you to use a security plugin, I have found WordFence to be very reliable (even the free version). As well as having security at the WordPress level the server your website sits on also needs to be secure, so ensure you have chosen your hosting provider carefully.
If search engine optimisation is part of your marketing strategy then add the plugin Yoast, this gives a great traffic light system for optimising your pages and posts.
For an easy way to hook up your website to Google Analytics try Monster Insights (again the free version is fine).
Don’t copy and paste your content directly from Word….the CMS will try to interpret the code which is in Word and could mess up your page layout. Pop the content into something like Notepad or TextEdit to remove formatting first.
Don’t upload huge images….its not necessary and it will only slow your site down…for you and your users.
Well I hope this blog gives you a few useful hints and tips to using WordPress. If you are still finding it completely baffling, but you have a WordPress site, or you’d like one, get in touch for some personal advice.