wordpress for dummies

WordPress for Dummies – Our Easy 10-Step Guide [2020]

WordPress initially started as a blogging platform and has grown into a full-fledged content management system. It is the most popular tool for building a website. It currently powers over 30% of the websites on the internet. It has a loyal user base and thousands of developers that keep adding stellar features to it.

From simple portfolio websites to complex e-Commerce stores to small business websites, WordPress gives you the flexibility to build the website of your dreams and in this WordPress for Dummies tutorial we will guide you towards creating your first WordPress website.

Why use WordPress?

  1. It’s flexible – The thousands of themes and plugins allow you to build almost any kind of website you are looking for.
  2. It’s easy – WordPress does not have a steep learning curve and is beginner-friendly. You don’t need coding knowledge to be able to use WordPress. Installing WordPress is quick and easy. Many hosts now offer one-click WordPress installations. Updating your website is also a breeze with WordPress.
  3. It’s affordable – WordPress is a free open-source platform. The core itself is free and you will have access to thousands of free themes and plugins to help you build your website. You can also use premium themes and plugins. Most premium themes are under $100 which is still affordable. Hosting and domain costs are incurred anyway whether you use WordPress or not.
  4. It’s responsive – A website that is not responsive is as good as one that does not exist. Most WordPress themes are optimized and respond to different screen sizes
  5. It’s fast – A website’s speed is one of the most important ranking factors considered by search engines. Out of the box, WordPress is fast. However, you may need to optimize your website to make it load fast.

WORDPRESS FOR DUMMIES - STARTERS' GUIDE

How to install WordPress?

There are several methods to install WordPress. Some methods may not be available to your depending on your hosting environment. In this article, we will look at the most common method for installing WordPress.

Installing WordPress using Softaculous

To use this method your web host will need to have Softaculous installed. We are using cPanel which is the most popular web hosting management panel. If you have any other panel such as Centos Web Panel, the process will generally be the same.

Step 1:
Log in to cPanel

Login to your cPanel account and search for the Softaculous apps installer as shown below.

Click on the Softaculous apps installer to open it.

Step 2:
Starting the WordPress installation

Once in Softaculous, you will have access to many different scripts that are available for installation. WordPress is usually among the first ones. Hover over WordPress and click on Install.

wordpress for dummies
Step 3: Configuring the Installation

Once in Softaculous, you will have access to many different scripts that are available for installation. WordPress is usually among the first ones. Hover over WordPress and click on Install.

There a several options here that you will need to configure for the WordPress installation.

    1. Select the WordPress version – It is recommended to always install the latest version of WordPress
    2. Choose the protocol – If you have an SSL certificate use HTTPS else leave this as HTTP. It is recommended however to install an SSL certificate
    3. Choose Domain – This allows you to select the domain with which you want the WordPress installation to be associated with. If you have multiple domains in your hosting account, you can select the appropriate one here.
    4. In Directory – This is where you want the WordPress files to be. If you want to access your WordPress installation through the main domain, leave this blank. However, if you want to access it through a folder, you can enter the name of the folder here. For example, if you install WordPress in a folder called clients, you will access your website through www.yourdomain.com/clients
    5. Site Title – Allows you to define a title for your website. The title will usually be displayed in the title bar of browser tabs and in search results as well.
    6. Site Description – Add a brief description of your website. This will also show in the title bar of browser tabs after the title.
    7. Admin Username – This will be used to login to your WordPress dashboard. (The back end of your website)
    8. Admin Password – Make sure you select a strong password
    9. Admin Email – Email of the WordPress administrator. Useful for receiving notifications and password recovery as well.
    10. Select Language – WordPress is a multi-lingual platform. You can select your desired installation language here.
    11. Select plugins – Softaculous allows you to install some WordPress plugins by default with the WordPress installation. You can skip these for now.
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Once you are done configuring the installation options, click on Install to begin the installation.

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It may take a few minutes to install WordPress. Once installed you should get a notification as shown below.

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Once you are done installing WordPress you can now visit your website by using your domain name. The front end of a new WordPress website will look as shown in the screenshot below. It will be using the default WordPress theme and will have a basic layout on the homepage.

To start customizing WordPress you will need to log in to the back end. You can do this by visiting your domain name followed by “/wp-admin” (www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin).


In the login screen, you will need to enter the admin username and password. These were set up during installation.

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Navigating the WordPress Dashboard

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  1. Quick Access Menu – Allows you to visit the front end of the website, check for new comments and create a new page, post, media or user
  2. Backend Menu – Navigation menu for accessing various WordPress modules
  3. Profile Menu – Allows you to log out from the back end, edit and view your profile
  4. Working Area – Depending on the module you are accessing this will keep changing. In the screenshot above we are in the dashboard, should we go on to add pages, posts or access any other module this screen will change accordingly.

ADDING THEMES IN WORDPRESS

WordPress themes control the look, feel and general layout of your website. There are thousands of free and paid themes available. Free themes are great for starting out. Paid themes are recommended if you are looking for flexibility and functionality.

Free themes can easily be previewed and for paid themes, you will have to rely on the demo provided by the theme author to get a general idea of the look and feel.

Click here for our reviews of the best paid and free themes.

Adding a free WordPress theme

Step 1:
Accessing the themes repository

To add a theme in WordPress, in your WordPress dashboard under the Appearance Menu click on Themes.

Step 2:
ADDING A NEW THEME

Here you will find a list of themes that are already installed on your website. Click on Add New to add a new theme.

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You can either browse or search for themes in the WordPress repository. Use the search bar to search for relevant themes. These will all be free themes.  Alternatively, if you have already downloaded a theme from an external source you can use the upload theme button to upload the theme and start using it. Usually, when installing premium themes, you will have to use the upload option.

Step 3:
Installing and activating a free theme

If you want to install a free theme, hover over the relevant theme and click on Install as shown.

Once installed click on Activate to start using the theme

Uploading a theme

Step 1:
Uploading a new theme

In the WordPress, themes dashboard click on Upload Theme as shown. You will be prompted to choose a file from your computer. You should have already downloaded the theme to your computer from an external source. Navigate to your computer and select the theme files. Usually, this will be a zip file.

Step 2:
Installing and activating the theme

Once you have selected the relevant theme files from your computer click on Install Now to begin installing the theme. Depending on the size of the theme file it may take some time to upload the theme.

Once you have installed the theme click on activate to start using the theme

Creating pages in WordPress

Depending on your requirements you will have to create various pages for your website. Some examples of common pages include Home, About us, Products, Services, Contact us, etc.

Step 1:
Creating a new page

In your WordPress dashboard under the pages menu click on Add New as shown in the screenshot below.

Step 2:
Adding content to pages

You will need to start off by adding a title for the page. We have titled the page “Home” as shown.

You will also need to add content for the page. For now, we have just added a simple message. We will look at creating more complex layouts further in this article.

Step 3:
Publishing a page

To make a page live and accessible from the front end you will need to publish it. Click on the publish button in the top right-hand corner to make it live.

Editing Pages

To edit pages that you have already created, in your WordPress dashboard under the Pages menu click on All Pages. Here you will be able to view all the pages that exist on your website. Hover over the page that you would like to edit and under it click on edit as shown below.

Creating posts in WordPress

By default, WordPress offers two content types pages and posts.

Posts are simply blog content. If you are creating a blog using WordPress, then most of your content will be posts. Posts are meant to be timely and they are archived periodically. You can organize posts using categories and tags. Posts can be syndicated with RSS feeds. Posts can be shared on social media using several WordPress plugins. Posts also encourage conversations through the comments section.

Pages are meant to have static one-off type of content. For example, your about us page, products page, contact page, services page, etc. Of course, you can go back and make changes to pages but you will not have a contact us page 2020 and a contact us page 2019. Pages are not meant to be social and by default, you will not have options to allow social sharing. Ideally, you should also turn off commenting on pages, for example, you don’t want users to start commenting on your terms and conditions page.

Now that you know the difference between pages and posts, you can go ahead and create a new page or post as per your needs.

The process of creating a post is similar to creating a page.

Step 1:
Create a new post

In your WordPress dashboard under the Posts, menu click on Add New.

Step 2:
Adding content to posts

Just like a page, you will need to add a title for your post and content for your post. You will then need to select the category of the posts and add any relevant tags. An example is shown in the screenshot below.

Once you are done adding content for your post you can click on the publish button to make the post live. We will look at how you can create a basic layout in WordPress later.

Creating menus in WordPress

Navigation menus allow users to switch between pages or posts easily. They are important for any website and will guide users through your website.

Step 1:
Creating a new menu

In your WordPress dashboard under the Appearance menu click on Menus. Add a name for your menu and click on Create Menu to start adding links to the menu.

Step 2:
Adding links to the menu

From the left-hand side you can select relevant pages, posts, custom links or categories that you wish to add to the menu. Tick each item that you would like to add and click on Add to Menu as shown.

Step 3:
Configuring the menu

You can re-arrange menu items by simply dragging and dropping menu items horizontally.

You will also need to select the location of the menu. The options here will depend on the theme that you are using.

Once you are done configuring the menu click on Save Menu to save your changes.

Setting a Custom FrontPage

By default, WordPress will display the latest posts from your website on your homepage. You can change this to display a static page instead.

Under the Settings menu in your WordPress dashboard click on Reading.

In the reading setting, in the “Your homepage displays” section you can select if you would like to display your latest posts or a static page. As shown above we have selected a static page and used the page called Home as our homepage. You can select any other page that you would like to use.

Adding plugins in WordPress

Plugins allow you to add extra functionality to your website. There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress for several different purposes. In this example, we will add a WhatsApp button on our website.

Under the Plugins menu in your WordPress dashboard, click on Add New. Search for a WhatsApp plugin and select a plugin that you would like to use. Hover over it and click on Install. You can also upload a plugin from your computer. The process of uploading a plugin is similar to uploading themes as covered earlier in this article.

Once installed click on Activate to start using the plugin.

The plugin’s settings will now be accessible from your WordPress dashboard as shown below.

Most plugins will create a menu item in your WordPress dashboard for you to configure the settings of the plugin.

Creating a basic layout

For this illustration, we will create a basic layout for our homepage. A simple heading followed by some text and an image. We are editing the “Home” page that we created earlier in this article.

WordPress now uses the new Gutenberg editor for content creation. The Gutenberg editor is a block-based editor that uses blocks for different content types. Blocks are simply elements for different content types. For example, to add text you can use the paragraph block and add an image you can use the image block. Several blocks are available for all different kinds of content.

Step 1:
Adding the paragraph block

In the top left-hand corner of your page editing screen click on the + sign. Search for the paragraph block and click on it to add it.

When you click on the + sign in the top left-hand corner, you will find all the blocks available for you to use.

Step 2:
Adding content

As shown below we have added a heading and changed the alignment of the heading to the center. We have also made the heading bold and increased the font size.

Step 3:
Adding a columns block

The columns block easily allows you to arrange your content in columns. Click on the + sign in the top left-hand corner and search for the columns block. Click on it to add it.

Step 4:
Selecting the columns layout

Once you have added the columns block you will need to select the layout that you would like to use. There are some pre-built layouts that you can use or you can create one yourself. For this illustration, we will use the 2 columns layout as shown.

Step 5:
Adding the image block

Once you have added the columns block and selected the relevant layout you can now add content to each of the columns. Click on the plus sign in the column to add a block.

Search for the image block and click on it to add it.

You can either add an image from your computer, media library or URL

We have added an image from the media library as shown.

In the next step, we will add a paragraph to the right column. Use the + sign in the right column to add the paragraph block in the right column.

Step 6:
Adding a paragraph

To the right column, we have added a paragraph block and added some text to it. The process of adding a paragraph block is covered above in steps 1 and 2.

You can now continue adding different blocks for different content types.

Step 7:
Updating the page

Once you are done adding content for your page click on the update button in the top right-hand corner to save your changes.

Frontend view

Here is a general overview of the front end of the website. As you can see all the changes we have done above so far are reflected in the front end. Again, the look and feel of your website will depend on the theme that you are using. The layout below is using the default 2020 WordPress theme.

You can see the title and the description of the website. This was defined during installation. It can be edited under the settings menu in your WordPress dashboard.

The page title and the content were created when we illustrated how to create a basic layout. The menu was created when we illustrated how to add menus and the WhatsApp button was added when we illustrated how to add a plugin.

If we go ahead and change the theme the whole look and feel of the website changes. To change the theme in your WordPress dashboard, under the Appearance menu click on themes. Hover over the theme that you would like to use and click on activate.

Here is a front-end view of the website after the theme change.

As you can see the entire look and feel of the website has changed.

Conclusion

We hope you are now easily able to work around WordPress and start building or editing your current WordPress website. We have covered all the basics that you need to get started with WordPress. If you want to know more please explore our other WordPress guides or explore the best WordPress for Dummies books on Amazon.

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