What we will cover
When any business owner starts to get interested in marketing their business, as the focal point of customer conversion, how their website works becomes a real priority.
WordPress provides a way for website owners or admins to manage the content on their website. It is termed a content management system or, for short, a CMS.
To understand the dominance that WordPress has in the CMS market you only have to compare its market share with that of its nearest rival Shopify.
WordPress has more than 63% share of that market while Shopify comes in at under 5%. Wix and Squarespace? Around 2.5% each.
We are WordPress specialists, primarily because from a user perspective it’s really easy to use, and there’s lots of 3rd party functionality you can affordably plug into it.
Why Learning how to use WordPress is important
We’ve gone into some detail on the benefits of WordPress in other articles so check out those if you still aren’t sure if it’s right for you.
However, in a nutshell, there are three big reasons it makes sense to follow the herd on this one:
- The WordPress CMS is free and uses ‘open source’ code. The main benefit to you is that your website will never be locked in to one web designer.
- WordPress is super easy to use!
- The WordPress community is huge. As a result, there are now plenty of resources out there (videos, articles, websites, etc.) to help the first-time user get to grips with the system.
Getting set up
Most people interested in learning WordPress will fall into one of two camps:
- Those who don’t have a WordPress website and are looking to build one or have one built for them.
- Those who do have a WordPress website (perhaps through Vu) and want to get more hands-on with it.
If you are in the first camp, you can actually download WordPress from wordpress.org for free and create a test website on your home computer.
However, you won’t be able to go live without a domain and some hosting, and that can get a bit technical – let us know if you need any help.
If you already have a WordPress website, you will need your log-in credentials. In most cases, you can access the log-in screen by simply typing /wp-admin after your website address. Speak to your web developer if you don’t have those details.
Finding your way around the WordPress dashboard
Whatever route you take in your WordPress learning, base camp will always be your WordPress dashboard. And this looks basically the same for every wordpress website, the more plugins, the more options you will find here.
Once you’ve become familiar with this layout, you can apply your knowledge to other WordPress sites (and even become the local ‘go to’ WordPress guru!)
When logging in to a WordPress site from a desktop or laptop computer, you will arrive at a dashboard featuring several options along the top and down the left-hand side of the page.
In the top left-hand corner, you will find a house icon and the name of your website. Hover the cursor over this and you should see a ‘Visit Site’ link. Click this and you should arrive at your website’s home page.
The icon in the top left-hand corner will now have changed to a dial. Hovering over this will bring up a bunch of options with ‘Dashboard’ at the top. Click on this and you are back where you started.
Once you’re familiar with cycling from website to dashboard view, take a look at the first few items down the left-hand side of your dashboard as these will be the most important in the early stages of learning.
- Updates. Here is where you can update themes, plug-ins and WordPress itself. This is usually a simple one-click process but is very important for keeping your website secure.
- Posts. If you run a blog or news section on your website (or your website is set up as a blog), here is where you add new posts/news items. By default, new posts will appear above older ones on your website.
- Media. Your WordPress website includes its own media library where you can upload images, videos and documents. It is good practice to load resources into your media library before adding them to pages and posts.
- Pages. Here is where you can edit, add and delete your web pages. You will also need to become familiar with creating and editing menus (under the ‘Appearance’ section).
- Appearance. Once you’ve got used to the basics, there are various features you will want to explore in this part of the system. These include applying themes and customisations to control the appearance of the website; setting up navigation through menus and designing sidebars and custom layouts using widgets.
Plugins. Ah, the wonderful world of plugins. These can add powerful features to your WordPress website and even transform how your site works (e.g. WooCommerce changes your website into a fully-fledged e-commerce site). In fact, WooCommerce is so specialised that it is sometimes categorised as a CMS in its own right.
Learning WordPress for free
As already mentioned, there are oodles of videos, courses, articles and other resources out there which can support your basic education. Well-known WordPress guru Syed Balkhi has even created a free resource, especially for beginners.
We do recommend making sure that you only use resources from 2019 onwards. That’s because in late 2018, WordPress replaced its classic word processor-style content editor with the block-based Gutenberg editor. Older resources may confuse the beginner.
With that caveat you should soon gain enough knowledge and experience to feel confident in running a simple business website.
Although free courses and resources are great (you can’t beat that price!), going solo can be slow to implement and time-consuming.
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