Getting Started with WordPress

This is part of a series of articles covering the basics of installing and using WordPress aimed at new-comers to WordPress and to CMS usage also.

This article serves as a guide for ThemeForest users who are new to WordPress.

If you need help installing WordPress, please check out our previous two articles:
Installing WordPress Automatically with Fantastico.
Installing WordPress Manually.

Accessing your WordPress Dashboard

To access your WordPress Dashboard (your Administrator area), click the ‘Log in’ link in the Sidebar of your blog. If you are already logged in, there will be a ‘Site Admin’ link in it’s place.

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If you are using a theme that does not have a Login/Site Admin link, simply add /wp-admin/ to the address for your blog. For example, if my blog was accessed at http://www.example.com/blog, my dashboard would be at http://www.example.com/blog/wp-admin/.

Writing Posts, Pages and Using Categories & Tags

From your Dashboard, press the ‘Write’ tab at the top, then ‘Post’. This page will allow you to write a new post that will display on your blog.

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You can also create a static Page. This can be used for displaying content such as an About page. The key difference is that Pages will not display in your post list.

Below the area for writing the post, are the following options:

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Categories

You can sort each of your posts into a Categories. You can add new categories directly from here, or you can use the ‘Categories’ tab under the ‘Manage’ tab.

Tags

Tags are sort of an evolution of the use of categories. It allows your visitors to easily find certain content. For example, you may place a post in a ‘Tutorials’ category and tag it as ‘tutorials, wordpress, themeforest’. These tags can be displayed as a “Tag Cloud”:

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You could use Tags as an alternative to the more hierachal stucture of Categories, or you could use them along-side Categories (or not at all!)

Advanced Options

Most users will probably never touch these options. You can password protect your posts or disable comments from here. If you use a more advanced WordPress theme, you may need to use the ‘Custom Fields’ to take full advantage of the theme, however details of this should be included in the theme’s documentation.

Publish Status

To the right of your writing area, is a ‘Publish Status’ sidebar. From here, you can Publish your post or Save it if you haven’t quite finished it yet. You can also set a certain date/time for the post to be published – WordPress will then keep the post as ‘unpublished’ until that time when it will automatically publish it for you.

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Changing Themes

Once you purchase a WordPress theme from ThemeForest, you will need to upload the theme’s folder to the /wp-content/themes/ folder of your WordPress install through your FTP client.

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If you do not know how to FTP to your website, please check your web host’s documentation or contact their customer support team.

Once the theme is uploaded, you can install it by going to ‘Design > Themes’ in your Dashboard and clicking the thumbnail of the new theme.

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Return to your blog see check out it’s new look!

Widgets

Most themes avaliable allow you to add new ‘Widgets’ into the sidebar of your blog direct from the Dashboard. Go to ‘Design > Widgets’ and from here you can organise your sidebar.
If you’re using a multi-column theme you may have multiple areas to place a widget. These are access from a drop-down box.

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Plugins

WordPress allows you to easily add extra functionality to your blog through the use of Plugins. Head over to the official WordPress Plugins page where there are over 2,500 free plugins to choose from. If you find one you like, upload it’s folder to /wp-content/plugins/ and then activate it from the ‘Plugins’ tab in the dashboard.

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Settings

From this page you have access to a number of different options to customise how your blog is laid out. It is recommended you browse through these settings yourself, but one note-worthy option is the ‘Permalinks’ tab.

From here, you can change what your site’s URLs look like. At the moment, the URL for your posts will look as:

http://www.example.com/blog/?p=92

The URL isn’t ‘readable’ (doesn’t make sense to the average user) and isn’t very search-engine friendly. You can correct this using the Permalink Settings.

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Select the ‘Custom Structure’ and paste the following code:

/%category%/%postname%/

Click save, and your URLs will now display in the following format:

http://www.example.com/blog/holiday/japan-2008

Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, looks a lot better. Search engines like Google prefer URLs like this aswell.

Summary

This concludes the post, however there are still loads of settings and options in WordPress we didn’t cover. Take the time to browse through your WordPress Dashboard to familarise yourself the settings, as it will greatly improve your experience with WordPress.


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