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Help & Support

Initial Setup

Last Updated: Jun 01, 2012 05:41AM EDT

Initial Setup with Wordpress


You've just completed the famous Fantastico or one-click install from your web host without stress or fuss. WordPress is packed with many amazing features, so now what?

Let's take a step-by-step tour through your WordPress site and learn about how all the different functions work and how to make your new site your own.

During the first part of this tutorial, we ask that you don't change anything within the program unless it is part of the tutorial. Just follow these simple steps and soon you will be changing everything.


Logging In

 
Begin by logging into the “administration area” or the back end of your website. Visit your site's login page by placing "wp-admin" after your domain name (e.g. http://example.com/wp-admin). Now log into WordPress using your username and password.

 

Starting from the Top


 
After logging in you are on the main Administration Screen called the Dashboard. This is the brain behind your website, the place where you can let your creativity explode, writing brilliant prose and designing the best and most lovely website possible. This is where the organization of your site begins - and this is just the start.

At the top of the screen in the area called the "toolbar." Click on the link that is your site name. This will take you to a view of your new WordPress site. Like it? Don't like it? Doesn't matter, just look at it. This is where you are going to be spending a lot of time over the next few minutes, hours, weeks, months....


Test Driving Your WordPress Site

 
Take time to look at the site before you get into the changing of things and figuring out how all of this works; it's important to see how your new Wordpress blog/site is laid out and works. Consider this the test drive before you start adding on all the special features.

 

Test Drive the WordPress Administration Screens

 

Now that you have an idea of how your site looks and what the different layout sections are called, it's time to test drive the WordPress Administration. This is like familiarizing yourself with the backend of your new website. In fact, the first page you see after logging in is called the Dashboard, a collection of information and data about the activities and actions on your WordPress site.

The Dashboard helps to keep you up to date on new and interesting bits of information from the many WordPress resources. In the corner it also features a list of the most recent activity you've accomplished on your site.

On the left side of the screen is the main navigation menu detailing each of the administrative functions you can perform. Move your mouse down the list and the sub-menus will "fly out" for you to move your mouse to and click. Once you choose a "parent" navigation section, it will open up to reveal the options within that section.

The various menu items are as follows:

 

  • Dashboard
  • Posts
  • Media
  • Links
  • Pages
  • Comments
  • Appearance
  • Plugins
  • Users
  • Tools
  • Settings


The links in the above list will take you to a series of articles that will guide you step-by-step through every aspect of the Admin Screens. You're anxious to get started, so for now, let's start with the Users Screen.
 

 
Click on the Users tab. The screen will change and you will see the Screen called All Users that shows a list of all your users; from here you can add or change existing users and authors accounts. In the navigation menu, click on the Your Profile menu choice. This is where you will enter information about you, the author and administrator of the site. Fill in the information and click Update Profile when done.

Now, let's look at some other powerful features of the WordPress Admin.
 

Quick Changing the Look

 

The Appearance, Themes Screen allows you to change the look of your site using different Themes. Themes are presentation styles that completely change the look of your site. Designed by WordPress developers and users, there are hundreds of themes available for you to choose from. In your Appearance Screen, you will see list of currently installed themes, including the WordPress Twenty Eleven theme. To this quick-change process, simply click on the Activate button under one of the themes listed, then click on your site name in the top toolbar to see how it looks. Wow, you have another look and nothing else on the site has changed. It's that easy.

Go back to the Appearance > Theme Screen and click the Activate button under the WordPress Twenty Eleven theme to bring the design back to what you had. To see it again, click your site name in the toolbar, and there it is.
 

Writing and Managing Posts


 
Back in the Administration Screen, take a look at the Posts Screen. You can use the tabs under the Posts Menu to write and manage your posts. Let's start by making your first test post in the Add New tab.

If the screen looks a little intimidating, the Codex article on Writing a Post will take you step-by-step through the process of writing a post. Take a moment to read through the article and post your first entry and then return to this article and we'll take you onto the next step.

If you are in a hurry, then simply fill in the blanks, one by one, in the post beginning with the title and then write a little test message in the post window. This is just for a test, so you can write anything you want. When you are done, click the Publish button that is to the right of the post entry window and it is done. You will then see a blank Write a Post screen and you're ready to write another post. Go ahead. But do only three to four entries. There's more exciting work ahead!

Now that you've gotten a feel for writing posts, you can view your posts by clicking your site name in the toolbar at top of the screen. Now it's time to get down to the real work.


Planning Session
 

All good websites come from a good plan. Sounds redundant, but it's true. If you want to create a good and solid website, you need a good and solid plan. I know it's hard to do, and I know you want to keep poking and playing with this exciting program, but it is time to take a break away from your computer and turn to the old paper and pen. That's right, we're going back in time to when people actually wrote things down.
 

On a piece of notebook paper, or whatever is lying around, describe your site. Take five to twenty minutes to come up with a purpose for your site, or better yet, call it your Mission Statement.
 

Answer the following questions:
 

  1. What am I going to do with this?
     
  2. Who is going to read this?
     
  3. What kinds of information will I be posting?
     
  4. Why am I doing this?
     
  5. Who am I doing this for?
     
  6. How often am I going to be posting and adding information?
     

Now, compile this information into a paragraph so it looks like this:
 

This website will be dedicated to X, Y, and Z,

and cover the topics of A, B, and C. The audience will

be __________ ________________ _______. I will be adding

posts every _____________ about ________ _______ ______________.
 

I am doing this because _____________ _____________ __________________.

 


Using the Information
 

From this exercise, we've gathered a lot of information. We've uncovered information on how you might layout and design your site. If you know your audience is mostly made up of young people under the age of 25, you will probably want a fashionable look ranging from wild colors and crazy graphics to dark foreboding tones. Something appropriate for that generation. If you are providing factual information about a serious subject, then you will probably want a more conservative look where the information is more important than a lot of pop and flash.
 

You probably already have a design idea in mind, or you will be copying over from your previous site, but take a moment to use this information to reconsider your design, and to see how what you want will work with the WordPress options.
 

You have also uncovered the possible categories for your site. The topics and subjects you will be covering are listed in your purpose statement. Let's say your purpose statement said,
 

"The website will be dedicated to providing news and information on computers, web pages, and the Internet and cover the topics of computer tips, web page design, and Internet news."
 

Your topics are your categories. Write your categories down below your purpose paragraph and notes about your web page design.
 

Now, what subcategories might be under these topics? Under Computer Tips, you might want to segregate them by Windows, Linux, and Mac. Or maybe Software and Hardware. You can have sub-sub-categories, but let's stop with subcategories for right now. Write these down.
 

Remember the question about why you are doing this? Is it because you have valuable and timely information or knowledge to share, because you want to talk about a subject that interests you, or maybe because you just think it will be fun to do. Why not? Everyone's doing it!
 

Understanding the timeliness of the information you want to present on your site helps you organize the information on your website. Your website is organized by several different methods. If the date of when you posted the information is critical to the success of the page, then having links to your posts referenced by date is important. If the information itself is more important and timeless, then having your posts referenced by category is the best choice.
 

As you lay out your website on paper, consider whether you want both categories and dates, or just one of them in your sidebar. What information you have and how you want to help the user find the information is critical to your website design.
 


What Information Do You Want to Share
 

As you think about what information the user will need to know, you have to consider what information you are willing to share with them. That information may include how to contact you, what the purpose of the site is, who you are, and what your expertise is.
 

A WordPress feature called Pages makes the process of presenting this information in an easier fashion. Pages, similar to posts, are most commonly used to present unchanging information such as About Us, Contact Us, Sign Up for Our Mailing List, and other static information. Before creating your individual Pages, you need to think about what information you would like the Page to hold. Write down the possible Page titles and describe the information you are willing to share online on each Page.
 


Comments
 

Part of the fun of WordPress is the ability to have viewers leave comments on your site. It creates a dynamic interchange between you and the viewer. Do you want comments on your posts? Comments on posts come in a variety of forums, from pats on the back (Good job! Like the post!) to extensive conversations and commentary about the posts turning into long chats. Or maybe you are seeking comments that add to the information you've posted. How you present your comment form, and whether you do or not, invites people to comment.
 

Responding to comments and moderating them can also take up a lot of time. If they are critical to your site, then include them and consider how you want them presented. Go back to your test site; the first post created at the time of installation includes a sample comment. You can even make a few comments yourself on the posts you created. Take a look at how they are laid out and consider how you might want them to look to fit into the design and layout of your site.
 

When you have reached your decision about how you want to handle comments, take time to read through the article on comments and WordPress discussion options to help you set those features.
 

With this basic information, you are ready to return to your computer and start laying out your site and setting it up.
 


Setting Up Your Site
 

Before you get to the graphic look of your site, let's do a little more administration to your site to set it up. Consider making your first plugin installation the Enhanced Admin Bar with Codex Search. It allows you to search both the WordPress Codex and WordPress Support Forum from your WordPress Administration Screens. Click on one of the search results and the page will open in a new window or tab so you can have the article or discussion open while working on WordPress. This will make your transition to WordPress a much gentler one with information right at your fingertips. You can also work from this page by clicking on a link with a Right Click and opening the documents in a new window or tab, so you can read along as you work on your site.
 

You may also want to install plugins such as the Akismet WordPress Plugin that is available with all WordPress sites to help protect it from comment spam.
 

But now, let's start with making those categories you wrote down before.
 


Create Categories
 

In the Posts > Categories tab, in the Add New Category are, fill in the information about your category. Continue to add your parent categories, going down the list. Hold off on entering sub-categories until all the main categories are entered.
 

NOTE: You can add any new categories any time, but make a note of the fact that categories can be sorted in WordPress in two ways: by name (alphabetically) or by ID number. As you enter the categories, they are assigned an ID number. It is difficult to change this, so if you don't want your categories sorted alphabetically, enter them in the order you want to see them presented on the screen.
 
 

When you have the parent categories entered, enter your sub-categories. In the pull down menu for Parent Category, you can select the parent to the sub-category you are adding. When you view your categories in the Manage > Categories Screen, you will see the categories listed like this:
 

Computer Tips
 

     - Windows
 
     - Linux
 
     - Mac
 

Internet News


Web Page Design
 

     - Web Standards
 
      - WordPress
          - - Plugins
 
          - - Themes
 


Put Posts in Categories
 

Let's put some of your test posts into categories so you can see how this works.
 

 
From the Posts > Category Screen, click on the tab for All Posts. You should see the test posts you entered here. When you hover your mouse over each post title, under the title, you should see the Edit | Quick Edit | Trash | View links. Click on Edit to edit one of the posts. On the right side of the Edit Post screen you will now see your Categories. Choose one of them by clicking in the box next to it. Then in the Publish module above, click the Update button. Repeat this for your other test posts, putting each one in a different category.

Now view your page by clicking on your site name in the toolbar at the top of your Administration Screen. Do you see the categories listed in the sidebar now? Great. If you are missing a category, that usually means that there are no posts in it. This is the default function of WordPress, so not to worry. When you add a post to the "missing" category, it will appear on your web pages. Click on one of the categories and you will be taken to a page for just that category. You should see the posts that went into that category. This is a generated Category page.
 

Now, click on the Archives for the month showing. Now you are visiting a generated page of your posts listed in chronological order for this month - well, specifically for today only. Two methods of finding the same information.
 


Preventing Spam
 

There is more to think about when it comes to having comments on your site. Unfortunately we live in a world where spam is a fact of life. This is where we remind you kindly to make sure you have Akismet (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/akismet/) setup and installed.
 


What Is Next
 

You've now done all the basics for your new WordPress website. You know how to write a post (create content), create a category, and how to view your site's information by category and archive. You can start the customization process, and when you are done, don't forget to delete your test posts! Then start writing some wonderful information to share with your new-found public!

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