How to Use WordPress (Tutorial for Beginners)
WordPress is an incredible piece of open source software used by 30.5% of all websites. Its’ versatility and ease of use allows you to create powerful websites and amazing blogs. It may seem a bit overwhelming when you first enter the admin area, but in this WordPress tutorial I am going to explain everything you need to get started.
Note, this is not a tutorial on starting a blog, or setting everything up, but a WordPress tutorial on how to create pages, posts, use the media gallery and so on. In other words, I am going to talk about all the amazing features this software has to offer, and what to do with them.
Note: keep in mind your menu may look different, because I have additional plugins installed to make my WordPress theme work properly.
The dashboard is your command center where you get an overview of what’s happening on your blog. The number of posts, drafts, comments, WordPress news, and other stuff are shown here. More information can be extended via plugins.
For example, Yoast SEO Posts Overview appears after installing the plugin Yoast SEO, which is a great plugin for making your content search engine friendly.
You can add, remove, or arrange these information boxes as you like. To add, or remove these modules just go to Screen Options (Screen Options are available on most admin pages) in the top right corner of the dashboard and tick all the information you want.
To arrange them just hold right mouse button on top of a module, drag and drop to your desired location.
The most important area in the dashboard is the menu located on the left side of the screen. Here you will find all the necessary tools for managing the look and feel, creating content, expanding features by installing and configuring plugins.
This is the menu you’ll be using all the time. Here you can see all your published, drafted, and trashed posts along with additional information such as publishing date, category, tags etc.
If you hover over a post additional options appear: Edit, Quick Edit, Trash, View. All of these options are pretty self-explanatory except Quick Edit.
Quick Edit allows you to make minor changes to the post without entering the full editor. So if you need to move a post to a different category, change tags, or set a different publishing date you can quickly do it from here.
From the Blog Posts menu you can start writing your first post by clicking Add New. You’ll be redirected to the WordPress built-in editor, which works pretty much the same as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or pretty much any other text editor. It should be familiar to your right of the bat.
Tip: Toggle additional editing options by pressing Shift+ALT+Z. Or simply press the Toolbar Toggle button.
Categories & tags
Categories and Tags are used to organize content. While tags are not important, categories should be carefully planned. There’s always the default category (Uncategorized) which cannot be deleted, but shouldn’t be left like that.
Think about all the topics you’re going to write about and create as many categories as necessary. This will make the user experience better (categories are used for navigation), and help search engines determine the topic of your blog (improves SEO score).
Some themes support the description field for each category. You can use that space for writing keyword rich descriptions, but in my experience it’s not worth it as very few themes actually use this feature.
Tags can be ignored completely. I use them only to determine whether I need a new category for the tags I use the most. It’s an additional way of organizing content. In other words, tags are used to describe content in a more specific way.
I recommend you Noindex both tags and categories (can be done in a SEO plugin of your choice). This is particularly good for eliminating duplicate content penalties as these pages don’t really hold any value for your users and search engines.
Media library is used to organize all your media content (audio, video, images). Here you can bulk upload, or delete content. To upload files click Add New and drag the files you want to upload into the boxed area. To delete multiple files click Bulk Select and choose the files you want to delete.
You can also click on any file to get all the details about it including Alt and Title tags, which are important for SEO. In addition, images can be edited using the built-in editor, simply click Edit Image.
The built-in editor allows you to rotate, scale and crop images to your liking. Just don’t forget to press Save after you’re done.
This menu is used to create and manage pages. They are created the same way as blog posts, but the difference is they are not included in the blog feed. Pages are useful for creating static pages, which are necessary for a full featured website. For example, every decent web sites should have the following pages:
- Contact – in my opinion, a mandatory page where anyone can send feedback, questions, or business inquiries.
- About – every business, big or small, has an about us page where they share their story, mission, and other information about their brand. You can avoid creating an about us page by setting up widget in the sidebar, or the footer of your website (like I did).
In addition, I recommend you Noindex all legal pages (and the contact page if it lacks content) as they serve no real purpose for search engines and can be considered as thin and/or duplicate content.
Here you can moderate all the comments posted on your blog. By default, comments will be held for moderation before appearing. As a moderator it’s up to you to decide which comments are inappropriate, or considered to be spam.
In the Appearance menu you can install new themes, change the look of your website using the built-in editor (click Customize), add menus, widgets, or even add your own CSS code using the Editor (not recommended for beginners).
If you’re using a premium theme like me, then most of the customization happens inside the theme’s framework. With a premium theme you only need to edit menus and widgets you’d like to use.
To add a menu to your blog go to Menus. Choose a menu to edit, or if you don’t have one click create a new menu. You can add pages, individual posts, categories and custom links to your menu. You can create as many different menus as you like, but most themes support a limited number of them.
Make sure you click Save Menu after you’re done, and don’t forget to choose where you want the menu to appear in Menu Settings.
Widgets are small blocks which appear in the sidebar, or the footer of your website. They are used to add additional content (e.g. about me widget), or functionality (e.g list of most popular posts). They work pretty much the same way widgets work on your Android smartphone.
Premium themes come with their own custom widgets, which are integrated with the theme both in design and functionality. So if you can’t find some of the Widgets I have it means they came preinstalled with the theme I currently use.
This is pretty much all you need to know about the Appearance menu.
Here you have an overview of all the installed plugins on your blog. You can install, delete, update, or access settings.
As I mentioned in an another post, it’s good idea to keep the number of plugins to a minimum. Install only the necessary ones and delete the ones you don’t use. This should limit the amount of exploits hackers can use to attack your website.
Here you can add, or remove new administrators, authors, editors, contributors, or subscribers each with different privileges. I strongly advice you do not add any additional administrators as this can be risky, unless you know them well personally.
Your Profile allows you to share more information about yourself, change the way your admin area looks, or add links to your social media accounts. This information is sometimes shown in the author box after each of your posts. It all depends on whether your WordPress theme supports this feature or not.
Here you can import content from other platforms, export everything to another WordPress installation, or schedule backups. You will most likely never use this section.
I am not going over the Settings in this WordPress tutorial because I’ve already covered this in another article. So if you need help setting WordPress up, I recommend you read that article as well.
To sum up
WordPress is a sophisticated and versatile blogging software, which is quite easy to use. Hopefully, this WordPress tutorial does a decent job of explaining the most important features of this software. Now you have all the basic knowledge required to start creating amazing content. Don’t hold yourself back!
If you have any questions about this WordPress tutorial, or want to give feedback, feel free to do so in the comments below. I will do my best to answer all your questions to the best of my ability.