WordPress

Overview

WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform that allows users to easily create attractive, customizable content for the web. Initially designed as blogging software, WordPress is now in use for website and course site creation, content management, online collaboration, newsletters, portfolios, blogs and more. With a focus on design, usability, and web standards, WordPress makes it easy to publish professional-looking content, to integrate your content with other forms of social media, and to share your content with other users anywhere on the web. For examples of how one campus is using WordPress, see the ‘Ten Ways To Use wordPress‘ (University of Mary Washington).

Getting Started

Step 1 – Creating your site.


Creating a simple Word Press site couldn’t be easier. Simply go to the Spark home page and look at the right hand corner of the screen. There you will see a box labeled get started. Simply select from the pull-down list (by clicking on the blue arrow next to it) blogs/websites (WordPress). Then select the orange box below titled “Create New,” and follow the steps to create your new page by entering a url and a web page title.

Once you click okay, a blank blog will pop up. Congratulations, you’ve just made your first webpage/blog! Now, on the right side of the page, near the green text which says “Categories” is the word “Edit” in gray text. Click on it, and it will take you to the editing screen for the post. Now don’t become nervous, ignore all the other options and look in the top left corner. There is a button labeled “Dashboard” with a drawing of a house on it. Click it. Now you should see a header which says Dashboard, and underneath it a box titled “Right now.”

Step 2 – Posting and Creating Content

Alright, so you’ve managed to create your own blog and find the Dashboard. Now comes the fun part, experimenting with all the various ways to display your content! As you might have guessed there are a lot of them, but don’t worry because we’ve broken it down into manageable chunks. Below you’ll find short tutorials, in written and video format, on how to create and manipulate the more common types of content.

Posts

Posts are the easiest and most basic way of adding content to your blog. A post will simply add a small, self-contained entry to the main page of your blog. This entry can have text, images, videos, links etc. in it. Generally, a post should be kept fairly short, especially if you plan on adding them frequently, to keep your main page from growing to an unacceptable length. There are two ways (at least) to add a new post from the Dashboard. The easiest is to simply use the Quick Press tool on the right side of the screen. Give your post a title, add the content to the big white box and click publish. Presto, a new post! The second way is to go over to the left sidebar, open up the posts menu by clicking on the arrow next to the Posts tab, and click the option “Add New.”

Pages

Pages are useful if your blog has several distinct sections to it or the content posted on your main page has become excessively lengthy. For example, if my blog was about a Salsa Dancing club, it might have “schedule,” “upcoming events,” “instructors,” etc. A neat feature about pages is that they can be nested in a hierarchy. Going back to our Salsa Dancing example, let’s say I’ve created the “instructors” page which gives a brief overview of all the teachers involved in the group. I want to include a biography for every teacher, but this might again make the page too long. So instead I give a brief overview of every teacher, and then create separate pages for each of them linked to the “instructors” page. In this example, the individual instructor pages are the “children” of the main “instructor page,” which is in turn the “child” of the main page. Another way to say this is that the main blog page is the “parent” of the instructor’s page, which is in turn the “parent” of the individual instructor’s pages. Creating pages is very similar to creating a post. Simply go to the Dashboard, open the “Pages” tab in the sidebar, and then click “Add New” From here you can add a title, edit the content, and set the parent of the page from the drop down list (which will have a list of every other page in your blog).

So which one do I use?

There’s not a definitive right answer. Generally, frequently-updated content such as news about your organization or yourself would be most appropriately written as posts, whereas information that rarely changes, like directions to your campus location, makes more sense created as a page. One thing to keep in mind is that only the main, or front page, of your blog can have posts. A page is more like a wiki page: it’s a single editable document.

Step 3 – Using Categories

So you’ve created your blog and posted to your hearts content. But now there’s a problem, it’s hard to find the posts you want, there are simply too many of them. Well, no worries, it’s simply time to use…Categories.

Categories are a way too easily group your posts. Categories are created from the sidebar in the dashboard, much like posts or pages. Simply give your category a name, place it in a hierarchy if you want, and then write a brief description. Once you’ve created a category, you can assign any post to any number of categories. Then, on the main page of your blog, you or any viewer can click on a category and see only those posts which contain are part of that category.

Step 4 – Polishing Your Blog

Okay, so now you have a blog with pages, categories, and a bunch of posts. It’s functional, well-organized, and does everyone you want it to do, but you can’t help wondering: can I make it even better? The answer is a resounding yes, and over the next few sections we will teach you how to customize your blog and add that little extra aesthetic appeal or functionality you’ve wanted.

Themes

Themes are an easy way to control the style, layout, and appearance of your blog. There are hundreds of free themes available to try, and most of them can be modified to fit your particular needs. Themes are modified from the Dashboard, under the appearance tab on the left sidebar. From there, you can scroll through all the available themes, select one, and then modify it by clicking on the new link under the appearance tab. For those visual learners out there, we’ve created a fast, easy video tutorial:

Widgets

Widgets are small programs which can be inserted into a web page. They help add functionality to your blog, for example by creating a small calendar of important dates or a list of who is currently viewing the blog. Adding widgets couldn’t be similar. Simply go to the Dashboard and click on the Widgets link underneath the Appearance tab in the left sidebar. There you’ll see two large boxes labeled active and inactive widgets, as well as gray boxes on the right which say things like “header” or “sidebar.” The gray boxes are the different places on your page where a widget can be displayed. The header is on the top, the footer is on the bottom, and the sidebar can be either on the left, right, or both. The inactive box of widgets is sort of like widget purgatory. You can remove a widget and place it in the inactive box and it will be no longer be displayed on your page, but it will save all the data associated with that widget. Active widgets are clean, new widgets. Any widget placed in this box will lose all its data permanently. To move a widget, simply click and drag it to the appropriate box. Further information, as well as a visual overview of what is described above, can be seen in the video tutorial on widgets:

Step 5 – Privacy Settings

It is possible to control who can edit, or even view your blog with a simple click of the mouse. Simply go to the Dashboard, open the Settings Tab at the bottom of the left sidebar, and click on the Privacy link. There you will find 5 different levels of privacy. Click on the option you want, then click on the blue button labeled “Save Changes.”

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