Beginners' Guide to WordPress


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Presented by Kathryn Presner & Shannon Smith at WordCamp Montreal 2012

This introductory session is geared for bloggers, web designers and programmers who are new to WordPress. Even those who don’t know a Codex from a Cadillac will feel comfortable here. Delving into WordPress from a beginner’s point of view, we use unintimidating plain language to explain the fundamental concepts of WordPress, from themes, to widgets, to plug-ins. We go spelunking in the admin panel and show real-world examples of what WordPress can do.

For beginners to WordPress, no knowledge of HTML required.

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  • \n
  • Kathryn \nI’m Kathryn Presner. Been building Web sites for over a decade through Zoonini Web Services. My background in communications leads me to look at web design holistically, taking into account design/technical aspects/content/optimization. I'm a moderator in the WordPress support forums and particularly enjoy helping newbies because I remember very well what it was like to be new to WordPress.\n
  • Shannon\nShannon Smith is the founder of Café Noir Design Inc., a small boutique web design company in the Montreal area specializing in bilingual web design. She supports web standards, semantic markup, microformats, open source products, and sustainable business practices. Shannon works with a number of PHP/MySQL content management systems to create clean, minimalist designs, that adhere to W3C standards. She also holds graduate degrees in journalism and psychology. Also a foodie and mother of three.\n
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  • Kathryn\nWhat is WordPress? \n- popular open-source blogging platform that started in 2003\n- two distinct flavours: &\n- .org - need your own Web host server but the basic software is Open Source, meaning that the source code is made available to anyone, free of charge and free of copyright restrictions\n- .com - WordPress hosts site for you, there are commercial limitations (advertising, affiliate links), limited choice of themes or plug-ins, can’t install your own plug-ins or custom themes, to access certain features & customization you need to buy credits, URL like (you can upgrade to use your own domain). may display ads on your site unless you upgrade\n- our focus today is on\n
  • Shannon\nThis blog for an illustrator allows the designer to share news easily\n-Typical blog format, few plugins\n
  • Kathryn\nThis site for a business coach incorporates a blog as well as informational pages (CMS part). The client can manage the content for both at their end.\n
  • Shannon\n-plugins here are mostly for navigation, audio\n
  • Kathryn\n-WordPress can be used for sites without a blog, news section or any repeating info\n- this one is bilingual\n
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  • Kathryn\nWordPress doesn't have to be used like a traditional written blog. This portfolio site for a film & TV editor features dozens of video clips, some informational pages and no blog. “Premium theme” purchased & customized.\n
  • Shannon\n\n
  • Shannon\n-Doesn’t look like a blog\n-Uses few plugins\n-Uses web tools instead (Google interactive maps, Wuforms, Email Signup, etc.\n
  • Shannon \nSome technical things that are helpful to understand at least the basics of:\n- WordPress runs on PHP (scripting language) PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor& MySQL (type of database)\n-Php allows for a dynamic site\n- Difference between database vs. files\n- file - document\n- database - bits of information that can be interconnected in different ways\n- WordPress - and most other CMSs - use both files and a database to allow quick updating and access of information\n- What is PHP and how does it differ from HTML. Do you need to know HTML or PHP or CSS to use WordPress? No - BUT a little bit can go a long way.\n- We will assume most of you know at least a little HTML but little-to-no PHP\n-On top of these can be added Javascript, Flash, etc.\n-Javascript is a programming language designed for performing dynamic tasks.\n-Flash is a multimedia platform that is popular for adding animation and interactivity to web pages. It contains a scripting language called ActionScript.\n\n
  • Shannon\n- Posts vs. Pages \n- Pages are just what they sound like - whole pages on a site\n-meant to be used for static content - content that rarely changes\n-example : an About page\n
  • Shannon\n- posts are individual entries within a blog, they can include things like:\n- the title of the entry, the date, tags, categories, comments\n-typical blog entries, but can also be any dynamic content (events list, etc.)\n
  • Shannon\n\nPosts can be displayed in different ways, for example the latest posts are often displayed in reverse chronological order on a blog homepage. \n\nThis is an example of a category page where all posts in a given category are displayed with the most recent first.\n
  • Shannon\nIntro to themes\n- a theme is a collection of template files that tells WordPress what your site should look like and how it should work\n- (X)HTML files & CSS stylesheet\n- Where to get a blank theme\nHow does a theme file work - i.e. usually pulls in header, footer, sidebar\nTheme file structure \n(Good intro for beginners here:\n\n\n
  • Shannon\n-List of typical theme files - this is TwentyTen, a default theme\n
  • Shannon\n-Typical layout\n-Atypical layouts can include multiple sidebars, special files for repeating sections, like contact info, etc.\n
  • Shannon\nFree, easy to use, can be used as a base for a custom design for yourself or a client that will be unique\nCan also make your own from scratch\n
  • Shannon\nCan be paid or free\nGo with the WP free-themes directory or a *reputable* premium theme. Beware of random “free WordPress themes” sites - their themes are often full of virus, malware and other bad stuff.\n
  • Kathryn\nPlug-ins add extra functionality to the basic WordPress setup, so you only have to install what you need. This keeps your base installation as lean & mean as possible. \n\nThe WP plug-in directory lets you choose from thousands of plug-ins contributed by the WP community.\n\nYou can often get added functionality without a plugin - see\n
  • Kathryn\nPlug-ins do everything from encrypt email addresses to make them harder for spammers to harvest to... to generating a complete database backup of your site and emailing it to you.\n\nThose things are “behind-the-scenes” - often plug-ins are more up-front, too - like rotating testimonials or social-bookmarking tools.\n
  • Kathryn\nWidgets allow you to drag-and-drop ready-made bits of functionality to a pre-designated spot on your site. It could be a search box, a text bock, a calendar, or list of archives in your bog... just for starters. \n\n-You can widgetize many areas of your blog, not just the sidebar. \n\n\n\n
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  • Kathryn \nIntro to the admin panel: see\n\n
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  • Beginners' Guide to WordPress

    1. 1. WordCamp Montréal 2012A Beginner’s Guideto WordPresswith Shannon Smith & Kathryn Presner August 2012
    2. 2. Kathryn PresnerAutomattic Happiness EngineerWeb Designer@zoonini
    3. 3. Shannon SmithCafé Noir
    4. 4. What We’ll CoverWelcomeIntro to WordPressIntro to the Admin PanelResourcesClosingQuestions
    5. 5. Intro to WordPress
    6. 6. Diving into WordPress What is WordPress? vs. What is it used for?
    7. 7. Blog
    8. 8. CMS+Blog
    9. 9. CMS
    10. 10. CMS
    11. 11. Magazine
    12. 12. Photo Portfolio
    13. 13. Video Portfolio
    14. 14. Audio Portfolio
    15. 15. Interactive
    16. 16. Some WordPress Basics Structure Presentation Markup Language ➜Database vs. filesPHP vs. HTML Dynamic Functions ScriptingDo I need to know Language ➜PHP? Data Database ➜
    17. 17. Posts vs. PagesPage
    18. 18. Posts vs. PagesPost
    19. 19. Posts vs. PagesPosts
    20. 20. Introduction to Themes A WP Theme is a collection of Template files - (X)HTML + PHP + CSS The CSS (aka stylesheet) usually controls the layout and design Only two template files are required: index.php, style.css Some are optional: sidebar.php, comments.php, etc.
    21. 21.
    22. 22. Get Started WithBlank ThemesStarkers Blank Theme Boilerplate
    23. 23. Get Started WithA Pre-made Directory Magazine - Free WordPress Themes: 2011 Edition
    24. 24. Introduction to Plugins What is a plug-in? Where do you get plug-ins?
    25. 25. Managing Plug-ins
    26. 26. Introduction to Widgets What is a widget? What is a widget-ready theme?
    27. 27. Intro to the Admin Panel
    28. 28. The Admin Panel Let’s go spelunking!
    29. 29. WordPress Resources
    30. 30. (of course!)The Codex Forum
    31. 31. Cheat SheetsWordPress Template Tags Reference Guide Cheat Sheet for WordPress 3.0-Ready Cheat Sheets Cheat sheets need to be current
    32. 32. Theme Development ToolsTheme Test Drive Plugin Theme Development Checklist & Sample Data Digging Into WordPress and In-Person Classes
    33. 33. WordPress InspirationWe Love WP Float Showcase
    34. 34. Kathryn’s RecommendedPlugins WordPress SEO by DirtySuds - Embed Yoast or All in One YouTube SEO Pack Bad Behavior FeedBurner WordPress Database FeedSmith Extend Backup Subscribe to Secure WordPress Comments Reloaded WordPress File Obfuscate Email Monitor Plus Contact Form 7
    35. 35. Shannons RecommendedPluginsWP-DB-Backup WP Super CacheContact Form 7 WP MinifyJetpack WP-smushitphp-enkoder Limit Login Attempts or Login LockdownWordPress SEOSimple Image Widget (feedburner, google analytics, wufoo forms, microformats)
    36. 36. Closing
    37. 37. What Next? Questions?Get the presentation at Slideshare Us Twitter @zoonini Twitter @cafenoirdesign