WordPress is the most used blogging platform in the world. It’s simplistic and customizable nature make it easy for anyone to become a blogger.
Nowadays, most businesses have a website or blog. For businesses looking to build their presence online, having a blog can significantly influence ranking and drive traffic to your website. However, if you’re a non techie that has zero coding experience, learning how to use WordPress must be at the top of your to-do list.
WordPress will make managing your website easy, regardless of your tech-knowledge or experience. We’ve listed 10 WordPress tips that will make this popular platform easy to use.
We’ve also put together a handy infographic with over 50 keyboard shortcuts to use WordPress like a pro. We’ve gone the extra mile for the WordPress fanatics among you – we’ve quick coded a chrome extension too for quick reference of the advanced shortcuts and WordPress tips.
1. Login to WordPress Admin
The first step to setting up your WordPress account is to access the admin panel and login. You can access the admin panel by adding “wp-admin” to your website address in the search bar. Here’s an example: http://www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin
2. Understanding the Dashboard
The next step is to learn the basic functions of the WordPress dashboard. Familiarize yourself with the administrator toolbar, main navigation, work area and its widgets.
In default, the WordPress dashboard contains 5 different widgets. They are:
- At a glance
- Quick draft
- WordPress news
Here you can find some of the most important links to set up your WordPress site.
- At a glance
At a glance widget shows a brief summary about your WordPress website. This includes the number of posts, pages and comments. Clicking on the link will take you to the respective page of each metric. Check the bottom of this widget to find information like WordPress versions and the active themes on your website.
- Quick draft
You can use this widget to create a quick draft for easy publishing. Save this post to drafts after you enter the post title and the content. Once you save the post to drafts, it will be listed in the bottom of this widget. Just click on the post title to open it in the editor.
Here you can see the recent activity on your website including scheduled posts, recently published posts, recent comments received and options to moderate them.
- WordPress news
Here you can see the latest news from the WordPress official blog. Check this section frequently to stay updated on WordPress related news.
You can also customize the widgets on your dashboard. The screen options drop-down provided at the top right corner will allow you to choose which widgets you want to see. Simply deselect an item to remove it from your dashboard.
3. Understanding WordPress Features
You’ll be able to better navigate your WordPress account when you understand various features, including permalinks, password protected posts, private posts, multi-paged posts, spam protection settings and more.
Let’s discuss some of these features:
- Pages and Posts
WordPress supports two different content types – pages and posts. As a WordPress beginner, you might be confused with these two options, but it is important to know the difference.
In WordPress, posts are dynamic entities that are listed in reverse chronological order. Posts are social and have options like social share buttons and comments. Posts are also updated in your RSS feed.
Page refers to a static web page that doesn’t have options like social share buttons and comments. Examples of static pages are your website’s “about us” page, “contact us” page, landing pages and so on.
The static URL of your individual posts are called permalinks. This URL is permanent and will not change – hence the name. WordPress supports different permalink structures that you can choose from the settings. The following are the basic permalink structures that WordPress supports:
- Default structure: http://yoursite.com/?p=123
- Day and Name: http://yoursite.com.com/2016/06/05/sample-blog
- Month and Name: http://yoursite.com.com/2016/06/sample-blog
- Numeric: http://yoursite.com.com/archives/ 123
- Post Name: http://yoursite.com.com/sample-post
You can also define a custom permalink structure for your posts. If you wish to use a custom structure, then you can use the following structure tags along with your website’s root domain.
- %postname% – The name of your post
- %post_id% – It’s the unique id of a post
- %category% – The category in which the post belongs to
- %year% – Published year
- %monthnum% – Published month
- %day% – The day it was published
You can access the permalink settings page from the dashboard menu as follows.
Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks
Your WordPress installation should have the privilege to edit the .htaccess file in order to make changes to the post permalink structure. Or else, you’ll have to add URL rewrite rules to your .htaccess file – but, this requires some technical knowledge.
- Content Visibility
WordPress has an access control feature called content visibility which allows you to decide who can see the pages or posts you publish. The default visibility setting for your posts and pages will be public. You can change the visibility settings from the edit screen.
Public: The post/page will be visible to everyone once it is published. This will be the default option for your posts.
Password protected: Choosing this option will prompt the user to input a password to view the post. If someone tries to access the protected page then he/she will be asked to input the password first. This will be very useful to share confidential information only among the authorized people.
Private: You can use this option to hide a post from the public completely.
- Multi-paged Posts
This is a very useful feature if you publish long content on your website. Multi paged posts helps your website visitors to read lengthy articles in a sequence of pages.
Let’s discuss how you can create a multi-paged post in a few simple steps.
You can split a post into multiple pages by adding the <!––nextpage––> tag wherever you want to start the next page. However, for some WordPress themes, the pagination will not show up even after you add this tag. In such cases the following tweak can be used.
Please note that you need ftp access to your WordPress files in order to do this. Find the single.php file within your theme files. Here is the complete path: WordPress/wp-content/themes/<yourtheme>/single.php
Add the following line of code into the loop:
<?php wp_link_pages(); ?>
You’re done! We’ve discussed some of the important features in WordPress so far, but there are few more which you can also find on the official WordPress website.
4. Creating New Posts
It’s important to know how to create posts and publish them on your website, as well as how to delete and unpublish posts.
Start creating a draft from the Quick draft option provided in the dashboard or from the main menu (Dashboard>Posts>Add New).
You will be directed to the edit screen where you can edit everything associated with the post. You’ll find different styling options to format your content. Insert images wherever necessary using the Add Media button.
5. Optimizing Posts
This includes adding media files, categorizing posts and creating featured posts. As well, optimizing your posts for search engines will help you boost your ranking on SERPs.
Let’s discuss some optimization techniques.
- Adding category and tags
Consider a food recipe blog, for example. Using categories can help you group, say, recipes on Chinese cuisine and Italian cuisine. All you need to do is use the appropriate category and tags for your post. This option can be found on the right side of the edit screen. Select multiple categories if you want and add any new categories you like.
Also, WordPress allows you to add different tags to further categorize or group your blog posts. You can find this option just under the category listing box.
- Adding a featured image
Done adding categories and tags? The next step is to select a featured image to represent the blog post. It would be ideal to use landscape resolution for the featured image. You can upload a high resolution image using the file upload option provided on the right side.
There is also a Preview icon that you can use to check how the post appears on your website when published.
Once you’re done editing your post, you can publish it immediately or schedule it to be posted at a specific time. To schedule the blog post, use the edit option provided next to Publish immediately in the Publish tab.
6. Creating New Pages
This will be very useful if you want to add a new section to your website. Follow this tutorial step by step and perform a live test, if possible, to learn how to add content and publish pages.
The method of creating pages is similar to that of creating posts. Keep in mind that a page displays static content while a post displays dynamic content.
There is an option called Pages provided on the admin panel menu. Just hover above it and click Add new.
You’ll be directed to the edit screen which is similar to the post edit screen. You need to fill in a title for your page and change the permalink for your page, if you prefer. Next, add the content and other required media.
Fill in all other information just like we did in the edit post page. You can also set a featured image for this page, but I would advise you to remove social sharing options from pages if you have any. The next step is to edit the page attribute options. In this section, you can select a parent page if the new page comes under any other pages.
There is also an option to select the page template. In default, all the pages on your website will inherit the default page template, but some themes come with multiple themes for pages and you can select different templates for different pages.
Once you’re done with all the editing, you can either publish it immediately or schedule to be published later (like a post).
7. Installing Plugins
Plugins add functionality to your website. You can access the plugins page from the dashboard menu which will list all the plugins installed on your website. Each listing has options like deactivate, edit, delete and so on. If there is a new version for the plugin available, you can update it directly from this menu.
To add a new plugin into your website, click on the Add new option in the plugins menu.
This will take you to the plugins directory where you can find and install new plugins. If you click on the Install now option, the plugin will be installed automatically, but you have to activate it in order to use it on your website.
This way you can add different plugins to your website, but be careful with plugins as they can sometimes cause aspects of your site to malfunction to code interference.
8. Understanding User Roles
Understand all the different user roles in WordPress. Learn how to set up different permissions to each user. This will be useful when you add new users/contributors to your website.
WordPress supports the following user roles.
Administrator: Users having full privileges on your website.
Editor: Users who can publish and manage posts that includes posts of other users.
Author: Users who can publish and manage their own posts.
Contributor: Users who can create posts but can’t publish them.
Subscriber: Users who can manage only their profile.
Super Admin: Users having full privileges on your website network. This is available only to WordPress multisites.
You should be very careful when assigning user roles and permissions when adding new users to your website. You might not need to give full privileges to all those users.
You can change the default user role from the general settings page (Dashboard>Settings>General).
Read more about the user roles and their permissions here.
9. Responding To Comments
Make sure you monitor and respond to comments that visitors leave on your website. Tinker with the settings and learn how to delete and approve comments. This will be particularly useful for entrepreneurs that have a blog on their website.
Once you click on the comments page from the admin panel you’ll be able to monitor and moderate all your comments from a single window. You can see all the comments received on your website in a reverse chronological order. You can perform actions like approve, reject, move to trash and mark as spam. If you want to make changes to a comment before approving it, simply click on the edit option. You’ll be taken to the edit page where you can make changes to the comment and its status.
You can also use the Quick edit option to make quick changes from the comments page itself.
There is also an option to reply to user comments. Always respond to comments on your posts. Regularly replying to comments will help you maintain a healthy relationship with your audience.
10. Updating WordPress
Before you update WordPress, check your current version and plugins and determine if it’s necessary to update. You can find outdated plugins and update them through the admin panel.
It is important to update your website with the latest version of WordPress. You’ll be notified in the admin panel whenever a new version is available. Let’s discuss how you can update your WordPress version with a few clicks.
I would advise you to always have a backup of the entire website. This way, you can just revert back to the old version if there is any issues with the update. A complete guide to backing up your WordPress website and its database can be found here.
Once you’ve backed up everything, you can access the updates page by clicking on the Updates option in the admin panel menu. If there is a new version available, you’ll find an Update now button.
After you update WordPress, you can update all your plugins by clicking on the Update plugins button provided on the same page.
In addition to the above mentioned WordPress tips, we’ve included a cheat sheet of keyboard shortcuts to help non-tech savvy entrepreneurs navigate and manage their very own WordPress site.
50+ Keyboard shortcuts to use WordPress like a Pro
For easy access to these shortcuts, we created a WordPress Shortcuts Google Chrome extension that you can use for quick reference. Simply install it from here, and you’ll be able to quickly refer to all the above shortcuts right from your browser by clicking on the extension icon in the Toolbar when you’re logged into WordPress.
Excellent post Sasneh, especially like the keyboard shortcuts infographic. That’s a nice addition to the post, I might add that there are a few plugins which you should add with a standard basic install such as a good seo plugin, one for analytics, and a security plugin for added protection.