Welcome to an introduction to WordPress. This series of videos has got something for everyone from beginner to intermediate to advanced users. If you’re a beginner WordPress developer or someone who doesn’t want to write code you will learn the fundamentals of using the WordPress back-end to create pages, posts, navigation menus, adjust basic settings, then you can combine that later with pre-existing WordPress themes and plugins to build your websites.
Create a Basic WordPress Theme
However, for our intermediate to advanced WordPress users, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and learn how to create a simple WordPress theme from scratch. It means we’re going, beginning with, 0 files 0 lines of code, and we’re going to write everything together so you can learn how to customise WordPress to your will and get it to output whatever you need it to do!
Now before we get started let’s spend a minute to review what WordPress is and why we’re so excited to be using it. So what is WordPress? Well, WordPress is a free open-source web publishing platform which is just another way of saying it’s a free ( open source ) tool to help you build websites. So who uses WordPress? Perhaps you’ve heard that it’s used by small businesses or for personal blogs as well as governments, schools, nonprofits and fortune 500 companies which means WordPress is for everyone.
It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to achieve with your WordPress website there’s a good chance that WordPress can help you. Now not only can WordPress help you but the community surrounding WordPress can also help you, and it is a massive community somewhere between 17 to almost 20% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress that’s nearly one in five!
Now I can explain later why that’s a fantastic statistic that we should be excited about and that we all benefit from, for now, know that a lot of people use WordPress. And finally, the greatest strength of WordPress at least in my opinion is the attitude surrounding it. There’s a very can-do, self-empowered, helpful, let’s keep things simple but remember that we can achieve anything attitude attached to WordPress and I love it.
So in this series of videos, I want to share some of that love for WordPress and get you started. So let’s dive right in, in front of you is the WordPress dashboard, WordPress admin or the WordPress back-end, think of this as the home base, this is where you administer your website, where you create posts and pages and so on.
Now it’s important to remember that the general public cannot and will not see this backend or this dashboard, only you as the site owner or site content contributor will see this. So if you imagine it’s the year 1950 and we’re running a newspaper, the general public doesn’t know the printing press or the offices where your journalists work, they only see the front-facing paper.
WordPress Back-End / WordPress Administration
So, in this case, the public only sees our website the way that we construct it whereas this WordPress back-end this looks relatively the same for all WordPress websites and it’s where the content creators work to add content to the site and administer the website. And I think that’ll make more sense here in just a moment so for example if we click posts in the left-hand menu, we see a list of news post titles. So this one reads how to assess website analytics, this one is titled ‘tutorial demo files posted’, and you can tell right away that this is not how a public facing website will be laid out.
Te Back-End is not exciting or captivating in any way, and this is only for the site administrators and content contributors. There are the existing posts on the website. So we can click on one if we want to begin to edit it and then this is very similar to any word processing program, we can bold specific text, make it italic, we can add new content and then when done we can just click this update or ‘Save’ button and we just saved an update to a post. So that’s how simple it is to edit any existing content with WordPress. Let’s take a look at how easy it is to create new content altogether.
So go back to the post screen we can see a list of our existing items if we click this ‘add new’ button, we can simply provide a title ‘new example post’, and then you add in a bit of content in the body section. Add a bit of Latin dummy text. You can choose a category if you’d like so we can choose between article or news, or we can even add a new category just for organisational purposes, let’s call this ‘news’ and then just click this blue ‘publish’ button.
And that’s it! We just saved a new article, and it would now show up on our front-facing website, and that’s the heart and soul of the WordPress back-end. You can edit existing content and create new content. Now there are different types of content, so, for example, we were dealing with posts, however, let’s take a look at pages. The best way to describe pages is to merely compare them to posts, the two are very similar, but there’s a fundamental difference. So let’s say for example we ran a blog or a news-based website most of our content would live within posts because we want this constant stream of content flowing through our website, however, we still might have a few static pillars in our website like an ‘about us’ page or our ‘history’ page or ‘contact us’ page.
Now when I just used the word static to describe pages that don’t mean that they’re locked in place or that you can’t edit them so for example if we click on ‘about us’ we can edit this page we can make this text bold, we can add new paragraphs and then click the ‘Update’ button. So the content isn’t fixed in the sense that it can’t change it’s a bit more subtle than that. Posts are displayed in reverse chronological order, so the newest posts are at the top if you think of a news website but pages aren’t part of a stream or river of content they’re independent timeless in a way, and that’s what we mean when we say fixed or static.
But aside from that, you can see that pages and posts are nearly identical, you provide a title and then a bit of content you can update and save them. Now posts and pages are the heart and soul of WordPress, so in a sense, if you’ve already just learned how to use WordPress it’s that simple, but you might be thinking okay so there’s posts and pages is that it? Is that all WordPress is? And if it is, why is WordPress so insanely popular? Why do people make such a big fuss over it? So to address those questions or that series of concerns I will say this: Yes, the core of WordPress is that simple, but by default, it’s powerful and easy to extend and customise.
So, for example, out-of-the-box WordPress only comes with posts and pages so you can have a news section and then a few static pages but what if you wanted a completely separate part of your website to have recipes so dinners, desserts, meal ideas? Well you can see in the sidebar that I’ve created a custom post type named recipes and that if I click that we’ve got all this entirely different content here beef stew, feta chicken salad, blackberry pie, potato salad, chocolate cake and you can see that we can even use different categories or different taxonomy systems.
We can categorise the meals like chicken or dessert, dinner and these categories are entirely separate from the categories that we use for the news or blog section of our website. And if we click on potato salad, you can see that it looks just like a post or a page, oh here’s where the ingredients go here’s where the instructions go. It would be straightforward to adjust some of the settings in WordPress so that when you’re editing recipe there’s also another field down here that says recipe rating and you can choose between one to five stars and then there could be another field called recommendation, and we would tell if we actually recommend this recipe or not.
So the point is that you could have any number of fields in addition to just this main body text field and you can have those fields only displayed for specific content types which mean WordPress isn’t limited to just posts and pages. Yes, that’s what it starts with out of the box, but your imagination only limits WordPress. We can create other custom content types in addition to recipes we can generate restaurant reviews, photo galleries, slideshows, chefs corner with interviews whatever your imagination can think of you can extend and customise WordPress to help you keep it organised dynamic and easily accessible to the public.
Now, this first lesson or video that you’re currently watching is to whet your appetite. We didn’t get our hands dirty and learn any of the details yet. I do want to say though I purposely did not show you the front-facing website. Remember we discussed that only the admin or the site owner sees this dashboard whereas the public sees something different they see the actual website. Now the reason I didn’t show you what the website looks like is that I don’t want you to have any preconceived notions of what a “WordPress” website looks like.
There’s a lot of people that think that all WordPress websites look the same or that they have some cookie cutter formula but I’m here to tell you that they don’t need to be that way and that mostly they’re not that way. WordPress does not place any restrictions on how your website should look. The only reason some WordPress websites feel cookie cutter or maybe they look the same is because a particular theme has become very popular.
A theme is what controls the public facing portion of your website it’s what your audience sees. So again you as the admin you see the dashboard when you’re editing your website and the public views what the theme outputs, so the theme says okay on the home page there should be five news, posts then there should be five recipes and three restaurant reviews. It should use these colours and these background images, and this is how it should look and function that’s the role of the theme.
Now, remember earlier when we said that the WordPress community was huge? It is, and it’s also filled with people who share their work. So imagine if someone who is a developer created a really useful theme, and then half a million or a million people start using that theme. Well at that point you can begin to understand why some people might say WordPress websites look cookie cutter because they’ve seen thousands or even millions of websites using the same theme, it’s up to each site owner to choose what their website looks like and how it functions.
With WordPress, There’s No Right or Wrong Way
Now the beauty is that there’s no right or wrong way to put together a WordPress website if you want to use a free theme, it’s all good. If you’re going to buy a premium theme, you can. If you’re going to design and craft and code your theme from scratch, you can. There’s no right or wrong way, and that’s what makes WordPress so unbelievably amazing, it has a helping community of people all using the same platform but they all use it in their different way, and they share advice and resources and tips and tutorials.
Now, this video series is just me sharing the info that I feel is the most useful. Now whether you’re a beginner or intermediate or advanced user we’re going to be looking at all of the different WordPress admin screens and settings, and we’re also going to look at how these different WordPress plugins tie into theme output. So whether you want to use a pre-existing theme or if you wish to code your theme from absolute scratch we’re going to take a look at all of the factors at play so thank you very much for watching this introductory video, and I’ll see you in future lessons very soon.