Introduction to Wordpress

By CRAIG KUNCE

More and more web designers are turning to Wordpress to help them build web sites. The main benefits are an easy to use and customizable interface, stable platform, and addons and plugins that allow you to add interactive and rich media content to your site with little or no programming knowledge required.

Need an interactive, updateable event calendar? Wordpress has it. Need a blog with built-in, chronologically-dated, comment threads? Wordpress has it. Web designers can do more—faster and easier.

According to independent analyst firm Real Story Group, the increasing popularity and growing demand for WordPress is part of a broader push for "embracing greater simplicity" in web publishing. (Wikipedia)

A few things about Wordpress:

  • Launched in 2003 as a blog-creating software
  • Free and opensource
  • PHP-based
  • Web or server-based interface
  • CMS (content management system) that can power very large and complex personal and business web sites.
  • In 2013, Wikipedia states it is used by 22% of the top 10 million websites
  • Used on 60 million+ web sites, it's the world's most popular blogging system
  • 30,000 plugins to customize your website and quickly add features

So… Why should I use Wordpress?

Good question. Here are some answers:

Pros

  • Probably the greatest benefit is that Wordpress is a CMS (content management system) that many people can share access too. My mother-in-law used to work at a hospital that used a CMS for their website. She know nothing about web design, but she was given access to her department's web pages so she could change and update them. This saved the IT dept. a lot of time making minor changes, and it put the changes in the hands of the local experts, my Mother-in-law's dept.
  • The same holds true for many businesses. Businesses are requesting their websites be created in Wordpress so they have access to make their own minor to moderate changes. They are objecting to paying their web designer $50 to add two dates to their calendar—when they can do it themselves for free.
  • Wordpress can be faster to setup and does a lot of the difficult coding for you
  • Wordpress websites are usually based on someone else's template. So you get a pre-made interface and polished UX.
  • Many Wordpress templates are already responsive
  • You have instant access to complex, interactive features like a calender, navigation,
  • You don't have to pay for hosting service of you use wordpress.com

Cons

  • When you use a basic templateou are not in complete control of your HTML or CSS. Most Wordpress.com users don't want to be though—so this doesn't matter to them. However, as your skills grow, you may want to migrate to a Wordpress.org account which allow you to load Wordpress onto your hosting server and be able to customize the raw HTML, PHP, and CSS code.
  • Wordpress.com limits your ability to customize your website and its look/brand. This is because many people are sharing a template that runs off of Wordpress's server. If you were allowed to change it it would change everyone else's sites using the same template.
  • Wordpress.com does not allow you to have your own domain. When you view my sample site you'll see that my domain is craigkunce.wordpress.com. Many people don't like this, like me, and instead prefer to own the more personal craigkunce.com.

Two main options when using Wordpress

  1. Wordpress.com
    Web-based software interface. Go to the website, login, and created, edit, and upload your content.
    • Less customization and editing
    • Free website hosting from Wordpress. Wordpress software is free.
  2. Server-based/Wordpress.org
    You buy your own web hosting account, choose a domain name, and load the Wordpress software onto your host's server. You create, edit and upload your content through the website creation/programming software of your choice.
    • More customization and editing (including raw HTML, CSS and PHP)
    • Costs you money to have a website hosting account. Wordpress software is free.

Here's a more detailed breakdown of the differences between wordpress.com and wordpress.org

Setup your Wordpress hosting account

  1. To begin, let's go to wordpress.com.
  2. Choose your domain username, and enter an email and password to create your free Wordpress hosting account
  3. Choose a design template to use for your website
  4. Link your twitter and/or facebook accounts
  5. Verify your email address
  6. Start customizing your website and adding content

Customizing your website

  1. My Sites > Dashboard
  2. On the left column, click Appearance
  3. Choose a new theme if you want and use the cool feature that allows you to preview each theme in responsive mode (how it will look on a screen, tablet, and phone)
  4. I choose "Responsive" as my theme. It looked contemporary and looked like it would adapt to tablets and phones easily.
  5. Next, click Appearance > Customize. Now you can see what you can change on your website. Play around with it and make it your own. (Notice that if a certain size is recommened for a header or background area, it usually lists that in the edit area)

Brand your website's header

  1. Click: Appearance > Customize
  2. Choose: Set Title
  3. Upload your logo (I created mime in Photoshop and saved it as a .png file).

Add pages

  1. Pages > Add New

Add Widgets (The real power!)

  1. Appearance > Widgets