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WordPress - Beginner

Before you log in you will need your username and password.  If you had someone set WordPress up for you, they should have provided you with a URL, a username and password.  If you used an automatic installation process through your web hosting, you probably got your login information via email.   If you have all three of these, great!  Continue on after the next section.

I don’t have my URL

There are a couple of things you can try to find you login URL.  Try typing each of these URLs into your browser bar:
If none of these work, you are going to need to contact the person who set up your WordPress for you.  If for whatever reason you are uncomfortable doing this, contact me and I’ll quote you a price to find the URL.

Logging In

WordPress runs in your browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, FireFox, Safari, etc), so open your browser and in the URL bar type in your complete URL.
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You should come to a page that looks similar to this.  If you have a hot designer, the page may look slightly different – perhaps branded with your logo, but there will be a place for your username and password.  Type them in and click on “Log In”.
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If it worked, you will be at the Dashboard!

I’m Not at the Dashboard!

Recheck your username and password.  Type each EXACTLY as given to you – capitalization and extra spaces matter!  Still doesn’t work?  Try clicking on “I forgot my password” and entering your email address.  Whether this works depends on if the person who set up your WordPress installation entered your email correctly.  If you do not receive a reset password, or WordPress tells you it doesn’t recognize that email address, you will need to contact the person who set WordPress up for you, or contact me for a quote on getting it reset for you.

 

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When talking about what WordPress is, we can say many things:

  • WordPress is software that displays a website
  • WordPress runs on a server or host on the internet instead of being installed on your home or office computer
  • WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that saves all of the information about your website to a database
  • WordPress makes it easier to edit the content already on your website, add new content and delete old content without paying for a web designer.
 
If you navigate to any website on the internet, let’s say my own website at www.beyond-paper.com, the information that you see resides on computers called servers located all over the world.  The companies who own and manage those servers are called hosts or hosting companies.  The majority of people who have websites buy a hosting package from a hosting company which will hold all of the information needed to display their website.
WordPress itself is just a software program that is installed in your hosting account.  When someone types in a URL for your site, WordPress builds the page from the information in the database.  If you want to change the content on one of the pages in your website you will type an admin URL into your browser and login to an administrative control panel that allows you to make all kinds of changes to your site.
Above all, WordPress is a content management system (CMS).  What this means is that your pages built from a bunch of parts which are stored in different places.  Take a look at a page from my own website:

Click to Enlarge

My site has three main content parts:
The header, which is the same on all pages.
Header Area - Same All Pages

Header Area – Same All Pages

The footer, which is the same on all pages.
Footer - Same All Pages

Footer – Same All Pages

The page content, which is differs according to the page:
Content - Each Page is Different

Content – Each Page is Different

 
Because the header and footer are the same on all pages, WordPress keeps one copy of each of them.  That way, when a change is made to the header, the change occurs on ALL of the pages – I don’t have to manually make that change to all of the pages!  The same with the footer.
Meanwhile, the content, which does change from page to page, is kept in a separate spot.  WordPress uses the URL of a page to figure out what content to pull out and match with the header and footer.
All of this information about content management systems and parts of a web page are important, because you are going to be able to edit parts of this page yourself.  Notice I said “parts of this page”.  There are some things that you will need a web designer, or a WordPress-savvy friend to change for you, but if your site is set up correctly you should be able to change most of the text and images in your site yourself.
So what is WordPress?  WordPress is a content management system that lets you make content changes to your site yourself, without the intervention of a designer.

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You want to make edits to a page on your WordPress site, but you aren’t sure what page to look for.  The best place to identify the page name is in the URL for the page you are looking at.

The Page URL

Look in your browser URL bar – everything after your domain name will tell you a lot about where your page is located.

The page name is usually found right after your domain name:

 

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WordPress will add dashes to your page name if it contains more than one word.  So /about-us/ for your About Us page.

If you have subpages set up, the URL will contain the name of the main page and then the subpage:

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Sometimes Pages Aren’t Pages

WordPress will create pages for category listings and for blogs – these virtual pages aren’t accessible from Dashboard->Pages.  Instead these virtual pages are created from Posts.  You will need to go to Dashboard->Posts and find the post.  For example, here is the URL for the page that shows all my posts in the category “news”.

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The next example is my blog page – it lists all of my blog posts:

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I’ve Identified the Page Name from the URL, Now What?

Log into WordPress Admin and from your Dashboard click on Pages->All Pages.  You’ll see a list of all of the pages on your site.  Using the name you got from the URL, you should be able to identify the page. Click Edit and do your thing!

I Need to Change How a Blog or Category Page Looks

This will require creating or editing a template and is beyond the scope of this FAQ.

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In this FAQ we looked at how WordPress website pages are broken into three major parts; the header, footer and content area.  This is important, because where you edit each of those parts may be in different spots in the WordPress administration.

In another FAQ we learn how to identify the name of the page.  Once you have the name of the page, go to Dashboard->Pages->All Pages and see if the page exists.  If it does, and contains the information you need to edit, yay!  You’re done.  If not, keep reading…

pageIn this FAQ we are going to look at the parts of the page to identify from where the content is coming. To the right is a screenshot of my blog page and I’ve blocked out and identified the areas.  I know this is a virtual page that was created by WordPress, meaning there isn’t really a Dashboard->Page for me to edit.  Instead all of the content areas are being pulled in from different spots.

Post or Widget?

I know this is a virtual page that was created by WordPress, meaning there isn’t really a Dashboard->Pages->All Pages for me to edit.  Instead all of the content areas are being pulled in from different spots.  How do I know that?  Well, first I know that the page changes when I add a new blog post – the most recent post appears without me needing to edit a page.  If it were a page, the content area would stay the same unless I went into Dashboard->Pages->All Pages to change it.

If I want to change the text or image in a post, then I obviously need to find that post and edit it.  (The name of the post is usually the same name that appears under Dashboard->Posts->All Posts).

If the area I want to change isn’t part of a post, and isn’t page content, then it is probably a widget or a menu.

Widgets

As you can see from my example, I have two menu areas – one at the top and one at the bottom, and two widget areas – one in a sidebar and one in the footer.  How do I know the difference?  It isn’t as obvious as you may think because you can have menus in widgets!

Menus are controlled in the admin under Dashboard->Appearance->Menus.  By looking at the menu listed in the editor and comparing them to what I see on my site I can tell that the menus are being controlled there.  So, if I need to make changes to a menu, I will edit them in  Dashboard->Appearance->Menus.

I also checked in the Menu editing area for a menu called “Inspiration” because that left hand column in the Footer area looks like it could be a menu.  I don’t see a matching menu, however, so it must be a widget.

View your widget areas and widgets under Dashboard->Appearance->Widgets.  Each box on the right is a widget area and you should be able to match widget areas up to the areas you see on your site.

widgets1

My site is pretty easy – I see a widget area for Sidebar – obviously that is the sidebar on my blog – and 4 widget areas for the Footer, which are the four columns in my footer.  Just to check I’m in the right spot I can open the widget area and match widgets to what I see on my blog:

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They match!  So I know the content I need to edit is in this widget!

 

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Want to use WordPress for your site?  The first question new users have is WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.  It really depends on what you want your site to do, how much you want to spend on your site and how much you want to be involved in maintaining your site.

WordPress.com – Hosting Service

WordPress.com is a service that will host your WordPress site for you.  It offers a way to get up and running with a WordPress blog quickly.  The basic package is free but has some serious limitations:

  • No premium themes or customization – you are limited to themes in the WordPress.com repository.
  • No eCommerce
  • Only 3 Gb of space
  • Must use a WordPress.com address (can’t redirect your domain)
  • May show ads on your site

The premium service offers:

  • Custom domain (can redirect your own domain)
  • Advanced customization, but no premium themes  – you are limited to themes in the WordPress.com repository.
  • 13 Gb of space
  • No ads
  • No eCommerce

The Business plan offers unlimited space, premium themes and eCommerce.  You are still limited to themes in the WordPress.com repository.

Self-Hosted WordPress

WordPress.org allows you to download the WordPress application and install it on your hosting site – so it will be associated with your domain name out of the box.  You can install any number of plugins and themes and can do any kind of customization you want, including adding eCommerce.  Your storage space is limited by your hosting plan.

Self-hosting is all about flexibility, but with that come some added site maintenance issues.  You will need to check in occasionally and update WordPress, any plugins and themes (easy with WordPress, just click on a button).  You will need to make sure you have at least one anti-spam plugin and install a security plugin with automatic backups.  These plugins can be had for free.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org?

I would definitely go with WordPress.org.  The flexibility a self-hosted WordPress.org site offers far outweighs the small amount of maintenance necessary.  But if you aren’t convinced,  WPBeginner has created a comparison infographic that will help you make your decision.

platformcomparison

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