An Introduction To WordPress As A CMS
One of the most exciting features about wordpress is the fact that you can customise it to meet your needs. There are literally thousands of free designs available on the internet, and if this doesn’t suit you there is a whole heap more available for purchase. WordPress also has a great feature which allows you to install plug-ins. These plug-ins are small pieces of programming that change how wordpress works, in some way. For example you may have a plug-in which automatically deletes spam (undesirable) comments left on your site, or even one which automatically places advertisements in each page you create. The possibilities really are endless when it comes to customising wordpress to suit your needs.
The first thing you need to do to get wordpress running is to download the latest version, this is available on the wordpress.org web site. You will end up with a .zip file which is around 3mb in size.
Although the wordpress installation is a very simple process, it is recommended that you possess the following skills to make it easier.
A server with PHP and MySQL (required!)
The basics of MySQL database management (creation, backup, etc.)
Basic knowledge of how HTML/CSS and PHP work.
For this guide I am installing wordpress on my local apache server, although the steps are exactly the same for those of you using a Linux hosting environment with cPanel.
Step One: Upload the wordpress install zip to your root directory, you can also use a sub directory if this is where you want the wordpress site to be located (for example blog.yoursite.com).
Step Two: Unzip/decompress the wordpress zip file, a folder named ‘wordpress’ will appear. It is in here where the main files for wordpress are located. Open the wordpress folder and move the files from ‘public_html/wordpress’ to ‘public_html’ if you want the wordpress install at the root of your site, otherwise you can leave them in the folder and the wordpress site will be located at ‘yoursite.com/wordpress’. Please note you can change the name of this folder as it will appear in your URL.
Step Three: You will need to create a database and user for this wordpress installation and assign privileges to the user. This can be done through cPanel easily, make sure you remember the password and other details as you will need these soon.
Step Four: Navigate in your web browser to the location of the wordpress files, this may be ‘yoursite.com’ or ‘yoursite.com/wordpress’. You will be asked to create a configuration file, click the button and one should be created for you.
Step Five: A screen will tell you that wordpress requires your database information; click next and there is another page where you enter this information. Database host is almost always localhost and you can use any table prefix if you only have one database for multiple systems. The rest of the information you should know from creating your databases in step three. If you enter the information correctly you will be asked to run the install, click the button now.
Step Six: Once the install is complete you get to enter some basic information on your wordpress site. Choose a site name and enter your email and a secure password for your admin account. Ensure the password is strong as people will often try and hack the admin accounts for wordpress sites. You can now log into your wordpress site and will be greeted by the sleek dashboard. Your base installation is now complete.
The first thing you will want to do once your installation is complete is to write your first post. On the left hand side of the page is the administration menu. Click on the item named ‘posts’ you are now taken to a list of active posts, and will see a test post. It is a good idea to delete this post as it is only there for testing purposes, hover over the ‘Hello World!’ post and you will see red text saying trash, click this and the post is deleted.
On the admin menu you will notice the posts item now has sub items (or items below it), these are specific options to do with the posts, and each main item on the menu will have sub items like this. You can show and hide them at any time by hovering over the main menu item and clicking the arrow to the right. Click on the ‘add new post button’ and we will write the first post for your site. Choose a title for your post then go to the next larger box and begin writing it, you may like to take this time to familiarise yourself with the features available inside the post box. Once you have written your post you need to choose a category, these categories are used to sort the posts on your web site. On the right hand site, click on the ‘add new category text’ and create a new category. You can manage these categories on their page which can be accessed under the Posts menu item. Click the ‘blue publish button’ on the right hand side of your page and the post is now published to your web site, wasn’t that easy!
Other important aspects of wordpress sites are pages. These are more static than posts and appear separately. Common uses for pages are for contact forms, about us pages, whereas posts are used for actual content. Click on the pages menu item to the left, then on ‘add new’, we are going to create an about us page. Enter the title of the page ‘about’ or ‘about us’ will work, then go about adding the content. Once you are happy with what you have written you can publish the page.
Adding a new theme to wordpress is a very simple process and it can help your site look more appealing to visitors. On the wordpress.org site there is an ‘extend’ category for themes, it is here that you will choose a look for your site. Once you have found a theme that you like, you can download it (which consists of a zip file). You will now upload this to your themes directory, this is located in the ‘wp-content/themes’ folder of your wordpress site. Once it is uploaded you will need to unzip/decompress it. Go back to your wordpress dashboard (admin menu) and click on appearance, now choose the Themes option. This page will list all of the themes you have in your directory, find the one you have just uploaded and select ‘activate’. Congratulations, it only took several clicks of the mouse but your site now has a whole new design.
Plug-ins are just as simple as themes to get working in your blog. You can look through the plug-ins section at wordpress.org to find any that interest you. Once you find one that you want on your wordpress site, download it (again a zip file, are you surprised?), but this time upload it to ‘wp-content/plugins’ and unzip/decompress. Click on the plugins menu item on the wordpress administration menu and your plug-in should be listed here, click on activate and the plug-in will begin working on your site. At this time the specific plug-in may require custom settings, you will get a popup notice if this is the case.
In this guide we only covered the basics on wordpress and the features any new site administrator is likely to use. There is so much more to wordpress and trying to write about every little feature would result in a massive book! We recommend that you take a look through all of the options of the administration menu, just so you can get an understanding of anything. If there is something that you would like to change it can likely be done easy using this menu. If you have any further queries, the wordpress.org site has a whole wiki dedicated to helping you solve your problems. We hope you found this guide useful and decide to go with wordpress; the power it offers web masters really is unmatchable by any other CMS. Good luck with your web site, and remember to make backups often, you never know when you will need them.
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