WordPress 101

wordpress.com | wordpress.org

  1. There are two branches of WordPress in the wild. The first, and open source implementation of WordPress can be found over at https://wordpress.org/. This CMS is completely open sourced, updated and maintained regularly for security by a strong community of knowledgeable developers, and is free to use for anyone with access to an online server. The second, and most commonly associated branch of WordPress, can be found at https://wordpress.com/ which is run and maintained by Automattic Inc. The developers at Automattic use the open source code from wordpress.org and make it available (with some tweaks) for anyone to use. The main advantage to using wordpress.com is that it requires no installation and no access to an online server of your own. The downside is that you will pay royally for Automattic Inc.’s services. This post will focus on the open source version of WordPress.
  2. https://youtu.be/RkR6nT3-8aM?t=30s
    Keep in mind that WordPress† is updated regularly, and some things may look different than this video.
    Additional information on how to get started with WordPress† can be found here.
  3. WordPress† is a Content Management System that, while code editing is possible, the visual work is handled by “themes” and “plugins” which can accomplish anything you could imagine.The dashboard is, however, significantly more focused on the end user (client, not web developer) and is designed for editing pages and posts mainly. This shouldn’t discourage anyone though, as buried in the fine print is an “edit” link that takes you first to a visual editor, then to a code editor. Even the plugins you install will allow you to tweak their code to your liking.
  4. The easiest way for a designer (such as you and I) to get started is to begin searching through themes on Themeforest. Recommended keywords are “parallax”, “portfolio”, and “responsive.” Once a theme is selected and purchased (or, er, obtained*…) the theme can be installed and edited following the (usually) provided documentation within the WordPress† editor.
  5. A massive community of developers update and maintain all of the components of WordPress†. The official documentation is located here, but there are thousands (quite possibly millions) of third party companies and forums where help for a variety of needs can be obtained.
  6. If your theme is purchased from a developer (say, from the Envato Market, link below) then the developer is responsible to update that theme. WordPress† itself and most plugins you can install receive automatic updates that will be installed in the background.
  7. This is the visual code editor available from the dashboard. This may change depending on how your theme was developed.
  8. There are no charges associated with downloading, installing, or using the open sourced version of WordPress†. WordPress.com has a variety of plans available that can be found at their website (link above.) Hosting fees and domain name fees are a requirement for WordPress† though, and can be anywhere from $35/yr (Bluehost.com, $95/yr after promotional period) up to thousands of dollars (for someone like a university or an international business.)
  9. People are drawn to WordPress† because of its extreme flexibility, strong developer base, prompt security updates, and extraordinarily intuitive user interface, as well as for its effectiveness to catering to both client and designer/developer.
  10. The main drawback to WordPress† lies in the fact that it can be a chore to get it installed if you are doing it from scratch (see alternative below.) It may also present too much power to a savvy client who knows just enough to hurt their web presence. Some steps can be taken to prevent this, however, but they are neither needed or recommended in most cases.

Useful Links

Hosting, and Domain Purchases: Check out DreamHost and all the features they have to offer over someone like, say, GoDaddy. If you like what you see, using this link will take $25 off an annual hosting plan. I quite literally cannot recommend this service enough. UPDATE: They’re running a special right now that is $2 off /month, less even than what I’m paying.

Alternative to from-scratch installs of WordPress†. DreamHost has what they call “One-click-installs” which takes care of the entire setup process for you without you having to lift a finger. All you have to do is select the domain, and watch as they install the most recent version of WordPress† with the most necessary plugins as well as a full range of themes for you to explore.

Who has your domain?! When will it expire, and get notified if it does at Whois.com.

Universal search for themes for most CMS’s, millions of mockups, royalty free images, audio files, and video clips at the Envato market.

Getting started with WordPress†, plugins to install: Jetpack by WordPress.comWP Super CacheWP Forms LiteErident Custom Login and Dashboard, Akismet Anti-Spam, Coming Soon WP

If you have any questions about WordPress†, or if you’d like more incoherent positive babbling from me about the goodness of DreamHost, or if you’d like help on getting your own site set up, please feel free to contact me.

*I do not condone illegally downloading any products. In my personal opinion, if you use something and you like it, you should pay for it. Someone, somewhere, needs to provide for their SO or children and you can help them do that by paying for their products. That said though, the resource is there, use it as you will.

† This designates a distinction as to the open source version of WordPress, not wordpress.com.