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Create your own complete website or blog from scratch with WordPress
These days, everyone has a good reason to have a website. It's not just large companies anymore. Individuals, families, and small or independent businesses all need to have one. Some individuals and small businesses don't have the financial resources to hire a website development company or a freelance web developer to create a website for them. This is where WordPress comes in very handy. WordPress is an open source web software application that you can use to create and maintain an online website, even if you have a minimum of technical expertise.
Since it is a web application, WordPress does not need to be installed on your home computer. It can live on the server (a kind of computer) that belongs to your website hosting company. It is also free, easy to use, and packed with excellent features. Originally, WordPress was an application meant to run a blog website, but it has now evolved into a fully-featured Content Management System (CMS). In this article we will cover some of the most frequently asked questions on WordPress 3.
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(For more resources on WordPress, see here.)
Q: What is WordPress?
A: WordPress is an open source blog engine. Open source means that nobody owns it, everybody works on it, and anyone can contribute to it. Blog engine means a software application that can run a blog. It's a piece of software that lives on the web server and makes it easy for you to add and edit posts, themes, comments, and all of your other content. More expansively, WordPress can be called a publishing platform because it is by no means restricted to blogging.
Q: Why choose WordPress?
A: WordPress is not the only publishing platform out there, but it has an awful lot to recommend it.
- A long time in refining
- Active in development
- Large community of contributors
- Amazingly extendable
- Compliant with W3C standards
- Multilanguage capable
Q: What are the system requirements for WordPress?
A: The minimum system requirement for WordPress is a web server with the following software installed:
- PHP Version 4.3 or greater
- MySQL Version 4.1.2 or greater
Although Apache and Nginx are highly recommended by the WordPress developers, any server running PHP and MySQL will do.
Q: What are the new features since 2.7?
A: If you're new to WordPress, this list may not mean a whole lot to you, but if you're familiar with WordPress and have been using it for a long time, you'll find this list quite enlightening. The following are the new features:
- Adding support for "include" and "exclude" to [gallery]
- Changes Remove link on widgets to Delete because it doesn't just remove it, it deletes the settings for that widget instance
- Syntax highlighting and function lookup built into plugin and theme editors
- Improved revision comparison user interface
- Lots of new template files for custom taxonomies and custom post types, among others
- Browsing the theme directory and installing themes from the admin
- Allowing the dashboard widgets to be arranged in up to four columns
- Choosing username and password during installation rather than using "admin"
Q: How do I upgrade the existing Wordpress version with the latest one?
A:If you're upgrading from a very early version of WordPress to a very recent version, you should do it in steps. That is, if you find yourself in a situation where you have to upgrade across a large span of version numbers, for example from 2.2 to 3.0.3, I highly recommend doing it in stages. Do the complete upgrade from 2.2 to 2.3.3, then from 2.3.3 to 2.5, then from 2.5 to 2.7, and finally from 2.7 to 3.0.3. When doing this, you can usually do the full content and database backup just once, but verify in between versions that the gradual upgrades are going well before you move onto the next one.
You can download the previous stable versions of WordPress from this page: http://wordpress.org/download/release-archive/.
Of course, another option would be to simply do a new installation of the latest version of WordPress and then move your previous content into it, and I encourage you to consider this course of action. However, sometimes contents are harder to move than it is to do the upgrades; this will be up to you to decide your specific server situation and your comfort level with the choices.
Q: What is the WordPress Codex?
A: The WordPress Codex is the central repository of all the information the official WordPress team has published to help people work with WordPress.
The Codex has some basic tutorials for getting started with WordPress, such as a detailed step-by-step discussion of installation, lists of every template tag and hook, and a lot more.
Q: Is WordPress available for download?
A: WordPress is available in easily downloadable formats from its website, http://wordpress.org/download/. WordPress is a free, open source application, and is released under GNU General Public License (GPL). Take a look at the following screenshot in which the download links are available on the right side:
The .zip file is shown as a big blue button because that'll be the most useful format for the most people. If you are using Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems, your computer will be able to unzip that downloaded file automatically. (The .tar.gz file is provided because some Unix users prefer it.)
Q: What is the WordPress Admin Panel?
A: WordPress installs a powerful and flexible administration area where you can manage all of your website content, and do much more. You can always get to the WP Admin by going to this URL: http://yoursite.com/wp-admin/. Your first time here, you'll be re-directed to the login page. In the future, WordPress will check to see if you're already logged in and, if so, you'll skip the login page. Following is the login page:
Q: How do I create a post on the blog that I created?
A: To create a post, just click on New Post on the top menu. You'll be taken to the following page:
Every post should have, at minimum, a title and some content. So go ahead and write in some text for those two things. When you are happy with it, click on the Publish button.
Q: What do I do if I have lost my password?
A: If you have lost your password and can't get into your WP Admin panel, you can easily retrieve your password by clicking on the Lost your password? link on the login page. A newly generated password will be e-mailed to you at the e-mail address you gave during the WordPress installation. This is why you need to be sure that you enter a valid e-mail address. Otherwise, you will not be able to retrieve your password.
Q: What do you mean by Categories and Tags?
A: Categories and tags are two types of information that you can add to a blog post. We use them to organize the information in your blog by topic and content (rather than just by, say, date), and to help visitors find what they are looking for on your blog.
Q: Which editor is used for writing and editing posts?
A: WordPress comes with a Visual editor, otherwise known as a WYSIWYG editor. This is the default editor for typing and editing your posts. If you're comfortable with HTML, you may prefer to write and edit your posts using the HTML editor—particularly useful if you want to add special content or styling. To switch from the rich text editor to the HTML editor, click on the HTML tab next to the Visual tab at the top of the content box:
You'll see your post in all its raw HTML glory, and you'll get a new set of buttons that lets you quickly bold and italicize text, as well as add link code, image code, and so on. You can make changes and swap back and forth between the tabs to see the result.
Q: What are Timestamps and how are they useful?
A: WordPress will also let you alter the timestamp of your post. This is useful if you are writing a post today that you wish you'd published yesterday, or if you're writing a post in advance and don't want it to show up until the right day. By default, the timestamp will be set to the moment you publish your post. To change it, just find the Publish box, and click on the Edit link (next to the calendar icon and Publish immediately), and fields will show up with the current date and time for you to change:
Change the details, click on the OK button, and then click on Publish to publish your post (or save a draft).
Q: Is there any way in which I can protect my content?
A: WordPress gives you the option to hide posts. You can hide a post from everyone but yourself by marking it Private, or you can hide it from everyone but the people with whom you share a password by marking it as Password protected. To implement this, look at the Publish box at the upper right of the Edit Post page. If you click on the Edit link next to Visibility: Public, a few options will appear:
If you click on the Password protected radio button, you'll get a box where you can type a password. Visitors to your blog will see the post title along with a note that they have to type in a password to read the post.
If you click on the Private radio button, the post will not show up on the blog at all to any viewers, unless you are the viewer and you are logged in.
If you leave the post Public and check the Stick this post to the front page checkbox, this post will be the first post on the front page, regardless of its publication date.
Be sure to click on the OK button if you make any changes.
Q: What is a Widget?
A: A widget is a small box of content, dynamic or not, that shows up somewhere on a widget-enabled site. Often, that location is in the sidebar of a blog, but that's not a rule. A widget area can be anywhere a theme developer wants it to be. Common widgets contain:
- A monthly archive of blog posts
- Recent comments posted on the blog
- A clickable list of categories
- A tag cloud
- A search box, and so on
Q: How do I add an Image gallery to my post?
A: You can add an image gallery to any page or post in your website using WordPress's built-in Image Gallery functionality. There are just three simple steps:
- Choose a post or page for your image gallery.
- Upload the images you want in that gallery.
- Add a plugin, such as lightbox plugin, that will streamline your gallery, and save it.
A lightbox effect is when the existing page content fades a little and a new item appears on top of the existing page. We can easily add the same effect to your galleries by adding a plugin. There are a number of lightbox plugins available, but the one I like these days uses jQuery Colorbox. Find this plugin, either through the WP Admin or in the Plugins Repository (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/jquery-colorbox/), and install it.
In this article we covered some of the most frequently asked questions on WordPress 3.
- WordPress 2.8 Themes Cookbook [Book]
- Getting Started with WordPress 3 [Article]
- How to Create an Image Gallery in WordPress 3 [Article]
- Performing Setup Tasks in the WordPress Admin Panel [Article]
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WordPress 3 Complete by April Silver Hodge