Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!
The text above sounds familiar? It’s the content that appears on your first WordPress blog post that’s created by default, an article titled “Hello World.” If you’re new to blogging, you might find yourself overwhelmed about your next steps within the WordPress CMS platform. Fear not! Keep reading to learn your next steps.
WordPress Documents: “Page” and “Blog Posts”
There are two types of documents you can create: “pages” and “blog posts.”
- Blog posts are published articles on your website (“blog posts” and “articles” mean the same thing). Each blog post has an associated author name, published date, and appears in the latest article circulations on your website. As you publish new blog posts, older blog post articles are pushed further down in the archives. For example, your homepage displays the latest articles on your website. As new articles are released, older blog posts are pushed further down the page and eventually moved onto page two of the archives. Blog posts can be organized by categories and tags.
- Pages are static content. Meaning, they remain in a single place and don’t appear in circulation. To access pages on your website, readers must click on a link to your page. Pages are stand-alone and cannot be organized by categories and tags. Most bloggers create ABOUT pages to describe themselves, and they usually create CONTACT pages to instruct readers about the best ways to communicate with them.
Write A Few Blog Posts
Before you continue with tailoring your first blog around your personal preferences, you need to publish some content first. Every WordPress theme, and some plugins, will treat your content differently. Add images. Add text styles. Experiment with different text formats. Discover how content appears on your blog. Here’s your guide to the various writing features available in WordPress.
Navigating the Writing Interface
A WordPress document (at least the new Gutenberg versions) consists of a series of “blocks.” Each block can be a simple paragraph, quote, header, image, video embed, or other elements. You can add, position, and remove blocks as you deem fit. Some blocks have distinct configurable options (change font sizes and styles, change colors, add borders, etc.). If you have CSS knowledge, you can attach class and id attributes under the Advanced configuration option per block. To change the HTML output of certain blocks, you can choose “Edit as HTML” and alter its syntax. If you have setup multiple users, you can select which author should be assigned to the WordPress document.
There are two types of images you can place in your blog post: in-content images, and a featured image. Before discussing them, let’s introduce you to the Media Library. It’s the section where you can manage all media files uploaded to your blog. You can upload images, videos, and audio files and attach them within your WordPress documents (blog posts and pages). Every media file has its own URL and you can access the Media Library to discover the URL.
Whenever you upload an image to the Media Library, WordPress will automatically create Small, Medium, and Large variations of your image while retaining the original. This results in three extra files per image.
- Small image dimension equals 150 pixels wide.
- Medium image dimension equals 300 pixels wide.
- Large image dimension equals 1024 pixels wide.
Within the Media Library you can set default ALT and CAPTION texts.
The featured image should be a graphic or picture that’s representative of your blog post. How your featured image is displayed in your blog post depends on your theme. To add a featured image, make sure that Document settings are showing on the right sidebar (click on “Document” in the right sidebar to showcase Document settings). Scroll down the list of options until you see “Featured Image.” Expand the menu and then click on the “Set featured image” button. You will have the option to upload a new image or choose an existing image from the Media Library. You can’t control the size or position of the featured image—those are determined by the theme you select for your blog. Some themes will give you the option to control how your featured image appears, but most don’t give you options.
Images added to content can be re-sized and re-positioned. To add an image, select the Image block and then either upload a new file or choose an existing image from the Media Library. You can configure the image using options available for the Image block, accessible on the right sidebar via the “Block” tab.
Configure Your Blog
Now that you have added some written content to your blog, it’s time to configure other features of your blog. In this section, I will describe how to configure the following:
- Website title and tagline
- Display options (time zone, blog posts per page)
- Themes and Customization
- User Management
- User “gravatar” (icon)
- Create Your Menu
Website Title and Tagline
Set the name of your website. On the left sidebar, hover over “Settings” and then click on “General.” Enter your desired title on the Site Title text field. Underneath that field is Tagline—if you want to declare a displayable slogan for your blog, you can enter it here; otherwise, you can leave it blank.
Declaring a time zone for your blog is important. This controls the proper publish date and time of your blog posts. You have two options: UTC and named time zones. I normally select the Los Angeles time zone (for California PST). After making the change click on SAVE CHANGES.
Blog Posts per page
You have control over how many blog posts are shown on pages such as the home page, category, and tag pages. By default, WordPress will show 10 articles per page but you can change the quantity whenever you want. To change this setting, hover over “Settings” on the left sidebar and then click on “Reading.” Look for the Blog pages show at most checkbox and then alter the number. After making the change click on SAVE CHANGES.
Themes and Customization
Choosing the right theme determines the look and feel of your WordPress site. There are some ways to approach this from a design and brand perspective:
- What is the central topic of your blog? If you’re planning to concentrate on fashion, a minimalist or portfolio style theme might suit you. If technology, then a magazine style theme would be more appropriate. Determine your audience and choose accordingly.
- How advanced are your web development skills? If you’re not familiar with HTML or CSS, make sure you choose a theme that doesn’t require knowledge of them.
- What options does your theme make available? You do want some control over the color scheme. If you have other image assets such as a custom logo, avatar, or other creative assets—keep in mind where those will fit.
Once your theme has been activated, there are basic options presented to you. It differs for each theme but to discover available customizations, you can use WordPress’s Customizer to make alterations. On the left sidebar menu, hover over “Appearance” and then click on “Customize.” A new screen will appear that shows your current blog and menu options on the left. Available options to customize differ per theme, but the following default options are usually available:
- Site Identity: change the title, tagline, add a logo and favicon.
- Menus: access to the menu editors for your website (read below to learn more about menus).
- Widgets: add, remove, or alter widgets (read below to learn more about widgets).
- Additional CSS: instead of editing your theme’s “style.css” file, or other CSS files, you can insert styling syntax in this area instead.
What Are Widgets?
Widgets are special modules that perform specific functions. There’s a widget to show categories, author bio information, recent blog posts, pages, etc. Some plugins and themes provide custom widgets. Most themes have widget-activated areas where you can add widgets. To add a widget, find the widget in the list of available modules and then drag it into a widget area. You’ll have the ability to modify widget options, add content, change its title, etc.
Your WordPress site can be configured to have a single user or multiple users. It’s recommended that you create a non-administrator user and then assign all blog posts, and pages, to that author (usually with “Editor” permission, the highest besides “Administrator”).
Each configured WordPress user can also feature their own gravatar, a user icon that shows on a website. To activate the feature, first you must sign up for an account on https://gravatar.com. Then you must register the user on your WordPress site using the same email address on gravatar.com. This connects the two accounts. Now, whenever your author icon is configured to show it will display your gravatar icon.
Create Your Own Menu
You can customize the menu of your website without having to edit programming code. On the left sidebar, hover over “Appearance” and then click on “Menus.” You’ll be prompted to create and name a new menu collection if you haven’t done so already. In the Display location pane, choose where you’d like to display the menu (each theme has different locations). To add pages to your menu, you can use the checkboxes in the “Menus” sidebar screen to choose links. Click on “Add to Menu” button. After you see them in the Menu structure pane, you can indent each selection to make them sub-links of a parent. Once you’ve made your changes, click the “Save Menu” button at the bottom to apply your modifications.