Beginners Guide to WordPress WordCamp Montreal 2010


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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.

Shannon 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.

Kathryn Presner of Zoonini Web Services does a lot more than simply create attractive websites – she delivers custom-designed solutions tailored to her clients’ goals. Coming from a communications background, Kathryn takes a holistic approach to web design and development, building unique sites that work well, look fabulous, and are easily found in search-engine results. She is passionate about helping people avoid common website pitfalls and enjoys speaking to entrepreneurs on the topic.

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  • Kathryn
    I’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. Started using WordPress about two years ago, still have a lot to learn but happy to share what I know.
  • Shannon
    Shannon 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 two
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    What is WordPress?
    - popular open-source blogging platform that started in 2003
    - two distinct flavours: &
    - .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
    - .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
    - our focus today is on
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    This blog for an illustrator allows the designer to share news easily
    -Typical blog format, few plugins
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    WordPress doesn't have to be used like a traditional written blog - example: (video blog), can also be used solely as a CMS (content management system)

    This site for a business coach incorporates a blog as well as informational pages (CMS part). Each section has a different colour scheme.
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    -plugins here are mostly for navigation, audio
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    This portfolio site for a film & TV editor features dozens of video clips. “Premium theme” purchased & customized.
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    -Doesn’t look like a blog
    -Uses few plugins
    -Uses web tools instead (Google interactive maps, Wuforms, Email Signup, etc.
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    Some technical things that are helpful to understand at least the basics of:
    - WordPress runs on PHP (scripting language) PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor& MySQL (type of database)
    -Php allows for a dynamic site
    - Difference between database vs. files - what’s a good analogy?
    - file - document
    - database - bits of information that can be interconnected in different ways
    - WordPress - and most other CMS’s - use both files and a database to allow quick updating and access of information
    - 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.
    - We will assume most of you know at least a little HTML but little-to-no PHP
    -On top of these can be added javascript, flash, etc.
    -Javascript is a programming language designed for performing dynamic tasks.
    -Flash is a multimedia platform that is popular for adding animation and interactivity to web pages. It contains a scripting language called ActionScript.
    -Ajax uses a combination of HTML and CSS to mark up and style information. The DOM is accessed with JavaScript to dynamically display, and to allow the user to interact with, the information presented. JavaScript and the XMLHttpRequest object provide a method for exchanging data asynchronously between browser and server to avoid full page reloads.
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    - Posts vs. Pages
    - Pages are just what they sound like - whole pages on a site
    -meant to be used for static content - content that rarely changes
    -example : the about page
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    - posts are individual entries within a blog, they can include things like:
    - the title of the entry, the date, tags, categories, comments
    -typical blog entries, but can also be any dynamic content (events list, etc.)
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    Intro to themes
    - a theme is a collection of template files that tells WordPress what your site should look like and how it should work
    - (X)HTML files & CSS stylesheet
    - Where to get a blank theme
    How does a theme file work - i.e. usually pulls in header, footer, sidebar
    Theme file structure
    (Good intro for beginners here:

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    -List of typical theme files
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    -Typical layout
    -Atypical layouts can include multiple sidebars, special files for repeating sections, like contact info, etc.
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    Free, easy to use
    -Can also make your own
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    Can be paid or free
    Smashing magazine often has roundups of attractive pre-made themes
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    Plug-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.

    The WP plug-in directory lets you choose from thousands of plug-ins contributed by the WP community.

    You can often get added functionality without a plugin - see
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    Plug-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.

    Those things are “behind-the-scenes” - often plug-ins are more up-front, too - like rotating testimonials or social-bookmarking tools.
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    Widgets 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.

    -You can widgetize many areas of your blog, not just the sidebar.

    (info here:

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    Intro to the admin panel: see

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  • Beginners Guide to WordPress WordCamp Montreal 2010

    1. 1. A Beginner’s Guide to WordPress with Shannon Smith & Kathryn Presner August 28, 2010
    2. 2. Kathryn Presner of Zoonini Web Services @zoonini
    3. 3. Shannon Smith of Café Noir Design Inc. @cafenoirdesign
    4. 4. What We’ll Cover Welcome Intro to WordPress Intro to the Admin Panel Resources Closing Questions
    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. Multimedia Portfolio
    11. 11. Examples of Interaction
    12. 12.
    13. 13. Some WordPress Basics Structure Presentation Markup Language ➜ Database vs. files PHP vs. HTML Dynamic Functions Scripting Do I need to know Language ➜ PHP? Data Database ➜
    14. 14. Posts vs. Pages Page
    15. 15. Posts vs. Pages Post
    16. 16. 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.
    17. 17.
    18. 18. Get Started With Blank Themes Starkers DIW Blank Theme Whiteboard
    19. 19. Get Started With A Pre-made Theme WooThemes elegantthemes ThemeForest Press75 WPswitch
    20. 20. Introduction to Plugins What is a plug-in? Where do you get plug-ins?
    21. 21. Managing Plug-ins
    22. 22. Introduction to Widgets What is a widget? What is a widget-ready theme?
    23. 23. Intro to the Admin Panel
    24. 24. The Admin Panel Let’s go spelunking!
    25. 25. WordPress Resources
    26. 26. Links (of course!) The Codex: Montreal WordPress Community on Facebook gid=199180685044 WordPress on LinkedIn home=&gid=154024&trk=anet_ug_hm
    27. 27. Cheat Sheets WP Candy Cheat Sheet - Basic and Advanced WordPress Functions Cheat Sheet WordPress SEO Cheat Sheet WordPress Template Tags Reference Guide Optimization Cheat Sheet for WordPress WordPress Visual Cheat Sheet Various 3.0-Ready Cheat Sheets
    28. 28. WordPress Inspiration We Love WP WPInspiration WP Float WP Showcase
    29. 29. Kathryn's Must-Have Plugins All in One SEO Pack Extremely helpful if needed: Widget Logic WP-DB-Backup 3 security plugins: Maintenance Mode WordPress File Feedsmith Monitor Obfuscate Email Secure WordPress Subscribe to Comments WordPress Exploit Scanner
    30. 30. Shannon's Must-Have Plugins BackUpWordPress Google Analyticator HeadSpace2 SEO Google XML Sitemaps Contact Form 7 Google Maps for WordPress Dean's FCKEditor For WordPress (feedburner, google analytics, wufoo forms, Flickr Photo Album microformats) Audio player ShareThis
    31. 31. Closing
    32. 32. What Next? Questions? Get the presentation at Slideshare Company links Twitter links @zoonini @cafenoirdesign
    33. 33. Thank You