WordPress 5 Complete - Seventh Edition

4.8 (4 reviews total)
By Karol Król
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  1. Introducing WordPress

About this book

Back in the day, when you wanted to launch a new website, you either had to learn web programming yourself or hire a professional who would take care of the whole process for you. Nowadays, with WordPress, anyone can build an optimized site with the least amount of effort possible and then make it available to the world in no time.

Here, in the seventh edition of the book, we are going to show you how to build great looking and functional websites using WordPress. The new version of WordPress – 5.0 – comes with a few important changes, and we tell you all about how to use them effectively. From crafting content pages using the block editor, and customizing the design of your site, through to making sure it's secure, we go through it all.

The book starts by introducing WordPress and teaching you how to set it up. You are then shown how to create a blog site, start writing content, and even use plugins and themes to customize the design of the site and add some unique elements to set it apart. If you want to get more in-depth, we also show you how to get started creating your own themes and plugins. Finally, we teach you how to use WordPress for building non-blog websites.

By the end of the book, you will be sufficiently skilled to design high-quality websites and will be fully familiar with the ins and outs of WordPress.

Publication date:
February 2019
Publisher
Packt
Pages
432
ISBN
9781789532012

 

Chapter 1. Introducing WordPress

How do I make a website? is a question that a lot of people ask in this day and age. Actually, it's probably one of the main questions you ask if you're a business owner in the 21st century. But website making is not only about business.

These days, dare I say, everybody should at least consider getting a website of their own. In the past, this was an intimidating concept. The only way you could get a website was to either hire a professional who would build one for you, or learn web technologies and development yourself and then build one on your own. Nowadays, there are more options, and particularly if you want to build a website really quickly while making sure that it is top quality at the same time.

The best option of them all is WordPress—which is the topic of this book. Under the hood, WordPress is an open source web software application that you can use to create and maintain a modern website. At the time of writing, more than 30% of all websites run on WordPress, and the number is only expected to increase in the coming years. In simple terms, with WordPress, anyone can build a beautiful website with minimal effort involved and then make it available to the world in no time. Let's take a look at some of the perks of using WordPress:

  • You don't need to hire a team of developers and/or designers
  • You don't need to learn advanced PHP
  • You don't need to be a pro with computers
  • Nevertheless, you can still end up with a high-quality website with almost unlimited extension possibilities

These days, everyone has a good reason to have a website. It's not just large companies anymore. Individuals, families, freelancers, or small/independent businesses can all benefit from a website. However, at the same time, most people don't have the financial resources to hire a web development company or a freelance web developer to create a website for them. This is where WordPress comes into play. WordPress is free, easy to use, and packed with excellent features. Since WordPress is a web application, it does not need to be installed on your home PC or Mac, or any other machine under your control. It can live on a server (kind of a computer) that belongs to a website-hosting company. Originally, WordPress was an application meant to run a blog website. However, it has evolved into a fully featured content management system (CMS). If you don't know what a blog is, don't worry, we explain everything later in this chapter.

In this book, we'll be going through each important step on your way to understanding how WordPress works and what can be done with it. We'll learn about the basic usage of WordPress, configuration, extending your site with themes and plugins, and much more. But before we can get to all that, we need to start at square one! In this chapter, we'll explore:

  • The reasons that will make you choose WordPress to run your website
  • The greatest advantages of WordPress
  • Online resources for WordPress
  • Some of the most useful features in the newest versions of WordPress
 

Getting into WordPress


WordPress is an open source CMS. Open source means that the source code of the system is made available with a license whereby the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose (as Wikipedia defines it). CMS means a software application that can run a website (for example, a blog) and allows you to publish, edit, and modify the content. It's a piece of software that lives on the web server (more on what a web server is later on) and makes it easy for you to add and edit posts, themes, comments, and all of your other content. The following is the logo of WordPress:

Even though WordPress was originally a blog engine—used primarily to run blogs—it's now a popular solution among some of the biggest brands on the web and runs their entire websites. Brands such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Reuters, WIRED.com, Sony, Toyota, plus some of the most prominent artists (such as Beyoncé  or the Rolling Stones) all use WordPress as the base of their web platforms and outlets.

Undoubtedly, WordPress has evolved a lot over the years, and even though a large number of new functionalities have been introduced, WordPress remains one of the easiest-to-use web publishing platforms out there. Originally, it was a fork of an older piece of software named b2/cafelog.

WordPress was developed by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, but is now maintained and developed by a team of developers that includes Mullenweg.

What WordPress is good for

There are generally three popular types of website for which WordPress is meant to be used:

  • A typical website with relatively static content, pages, subpages, and so on
  • A blog website, chronologically organized, and frequently updated, categorized, tagged, and archived
  • An e-commerce website: a fully functional online store that allows people to buy goods or services, and the website owner to manage orders and fulfill them

However, as experience shows, WordPress is also successfully used to run a wide variety of other sites, such as:

  • Corporate business sites
  • One-page profile sites
  • Portfolio sites
  • Membership sites
  • Video blogs
  • Photo blogs
  • Product sites
  • Education sites (e-courses) and more

For those of you unfamiliar with blog websites and blogging terminology, let's take a look at the basics.

Starting the journey – what is a blog?

Originally, blog was short for weblog. According to Wikipedia, the term weblog was first used in 1997, and people started using blogs globally in 1999. The terms weblog, web blogging, and weblogger were added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2003, though these days most people leave off the we part.

Just to give you a more plain-English explanation, a blog is a website that usually contains regular entries made by an author. These entries can be of various types, such as commentary, descriptions of events, photos, videos, personal remarks, tutorials, case studies, long opinion pieces, political ideas, or whatever else you can imagine. They are usually displayed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent additions at the top. Those entries can be organized in a variety of ways, by date, topic, subject, and so on.

One of the main characteristics of a blog is that it's meant to be updated regularly. Unlike a website where the content is static, a blog behaves more like an online diary, wherein the blogger posts regular updates. Hence, blogs are dynamic with ever-changing content. A blog can be updated with new content and the old content can be changed or deleted at any time (although deleting content is not a common practice).

Most blogs focus their content on a particular subject, for example, current events, hobbies, niche topics, and technical expertise. This doesn't mean that blogs are meant to be published only by individuals sharing their personal opinions on given matters. On the contrary, these days, blogs have become a significant part in the online presence for many businesses and even corporations. The modern practice of content marketing is now one of the most widely accepted web marketing methods, and its core is based on publishing quality content, often in blog form.

 

Understanding the common terms


If you are new to the world of blogging (sometimes called the blogosphere, which is a fairly popular expression these days), you may want to familiarize yourself with the following common terms.

Post

Each entry in the blog is called a post. Every post usually has a number of different parts. Of course, the two most obvious parts are the title and content. The content is text, images, links, and so on. Posts can even contain multimedia (for example, videos and audio files). Every post also has a publication timestamp, and most have one or more categories and tags assigned to them. It is these posts, or entries, that are often displayed in reverse chronological order on the main page of the blog. By default, the latest post is displayed first, in order to give the viewer the latest news on a subject.

Categories and tags

Categories and tags are ways to organize and find posts within a blog and even across blogs. Categories are like topics, while tags are more like keywords. For example, for a blog about food and cooking, there might be a category called recipes, but every post in that category might have different tags (for example, soup, baked, vegetarian, and dairy-free).

The purpose and correct usage of tags and categories are one of the widely discussed topics among bloggers. Although there are basic guidelines such as the ones presented here, every blogger develops their own approach after a while, and there are no written in stone rules.

Comments

Most blogs allow visitors to post comments on the posts. This gives readers the opportunity to interact with the author of the blog, thus making the whole experience interactive. Often, the author of the blog will respond to comments by posting additional comments with a single click on the reply button, which makes for a continuous public online conversation or dialog.

Comments are said to be one of the most important assets for a blog. The presence of a large number of comments shows how popular and authoritative the blog is.

Themes

A theme is the design and layout package that you can choose for your blog. On most blogs, the content (for example, posts) is separate from the visual appearance. This means you can change the visuals of your blog at any time without having to worry about the content being affected. One of the best things about themes is that it takes only minutes to install and start using a new one. Moreover, there are a number of very good free or low-cost themes available online.

That being said, you need to be careful when working with free themes from uncertain developers. Often, they contain encrypted parts and code that can hurt your site and its presence on Google. Always look for user reviews before choosing a theme. Most importantly, the safest bet is getting your free themes only from the official WordPress directory at https://wordpress.org/themes/. The themes there have been tested and checked for any suspicious code.

You can learn more about this whole issue at http://newinternetorder.com/free-wordpress-themes-are-evil/.

Plugins

WordPress plugins are relatively small pieces of web software that can be installed on any WordPress site. They extend the native functionality to do almost anything that the technology of today allows. Just like WordPress itself, the code within plugins is open source, which means that anyone can build a new plugin if they have the required skill set. Every WordPress website or blog can work with an unlimited number of plugins (although it is not a recommended approach). The most popular functionalities introduced through plugins include spam protection, search engine optimization (SEO), caching, social media integration, interactive contact forms, and backups.

Widgets

Widgets are a simplified version of plugins. The most common usage of widgets is to have them showcased in the sidebars on your site. Typically, your current theme will provide you with a number of widget areas where you can display widgets (as mentioned, many of these are located in the sidebar). Some of the common usages for widgets is to display content such as categories and tags, recent posts, popular posts, recent comments, links to archived posts, pages, links, search fields, or standard non-formatted text.

Menus

We need to talk some history to explain the meaning of menus in WordPress. Back in the day, WordPress didn't allow much customization in terms of tweaking navigation menus and handpicking the links we wanted to display. This changed in Version 3.0, whereby the new Custom Menus feature was introduced. In plain English, it allows you to create completely custom menus (featuring any links of your choice) and then display them in specific areas on your site. To be honest, this feature, even though it sounds basic, is one of the main ones that has turned WordPress into a full-fledged web publishing platform. I promise this will sound much clearer in the upcoming chapters.

Page

It's important to understand the difference between a page and a post. Unlike posts, pages do not depend on timestamps and are not displayed in reverse chronological order. Also, they do not have categories or tags. A page is a piece of content with only a title and content (an example would be About Me or Contact Us—the two most popular pages on almost any blog). It is likely that the number of pages on your blog remains relatively static, while new posts can be added every day or so.

Home page

A home page is simply the main page that visitors see when they visit your website by typing in your domain name or URL address. In the early days of WordPress's existence, a home page wasn't something we used to talk about as a separate kind of page. Originally, a home page was generated automatically from the newest posts—it was a listing of those posts in reverse chronological order. Right now, however, WordPress allows us to build a completely custom home page and display whatever content we wish on it.

Users

As mentioned earlier, WordPress is now a complete web publishing platform. One of its characteristics is that it is capable of working with multiple user accounts, not just a single account belonging to the owner (admin/main author) of the site. There are different types of user accounts available, and they have different credentials and access rights.

WordPress is clearly trying to resemble a traditional publishing house where there are authors, editors, and other contributors all working together. Even though the option to create an unlimited number of user accounts won't be that impressive for anyone planning to manage a site on their own, it can surely be a more-than-essential feature for big, magazine-like websites.

 

Why choose WordPress?


WordPress is not the only publishing platform out there, but it has an awful lot to offer. In the following sections, I've called attention to WordPress's most outstanding features.

The main benefits of WordPress summarized are:

  • WordPress gives you full control over your website. You can change/adjust/modify/customize everything, and I mean everything, about your site.
  • There are thousands of themes and plugins to choose from, enabling you to make your website look and work however you wish. WordPress is extremely extendable. Basically, any additional functionality that you can dream of can be added utilizing a plugin that you or your programmer friends can write.
  • The day-to-day work with the platform is very easy to grasp. Tasks such as editing content, publishing new articles/posts, or interacting with the audience through comments have no learning curve.
  • WordPress is open source. There's no price tag on the platform; you can get it for free. This also means that learning how the platform works under the hood, and how to extend it even further, doesn't require anyone's permission.

Who should use WordPress?

Basically, if you need a website, and you want to be able to build it yourself, then WordPress is the platform that will make it possible.

WordPress is the perfect tool, both for beginners just dipping their toes into website building for the first time, and developers working on client websites professionally.

WordPress has been around for quite a while and has been in development the whole time. Developers are working on WordPress constantly to keep it ahead of spammers and hackers, and to evolve the application on the basis of the evolving needs of its users.

Note

WordPress's very first release, Version 0.70, was launched in May 2003. Since then, it has had more than two dozen major releases, with a number of minor ones in between. Each release came with more features and better security. Each major release comes with a code name honoring a great jazz musician, and this has become a tradition in the WordPress world.

WordPress is not being developed by a lonely programmer in a dark basement room, by the way. On the contrary, there is a large community of people working on it collaboratively by developing, troubleshooting, making suggestions, and testing the application. With such a large group of people involved, the application is likely to continue to evolve and improve without pause.

 

Getting to know the WordPress family


WordPress, as a platform and as a community of users, has grown in two main areas:

  • The first one is gathered around WordPress.org (https://wordpress.org/), the native, main website of the WordPress project
  • The other is WordPress.com (https://wordpress.com/), a commercial platform providing both free and paid blogs to users

Essentially, WordPress.org is about developing the platform itself, sharing new plugins, discussing the technical aspects of WordPress, and being all techie in general. WordPress.com is a commercial website where bloggers can meet with each other and publish their blog content under the wordpress.com subdomain (for example, something like paleorecipeslog.wordpress.com is a subdomain).

In Chapter 2, Getting Started with WordPress, we will discuss the differences between hosting your blog on WordPress.com versus working with the software you can get from WordPress.org.

 

Digging into WordPress – the features


Here is a list of some of the features that WordPress has to offer (in no particular order):

  • Exchangeable designs through WordPress themes, which are also further customizable via WordPress Customizer
  • Extendable through WordPress plugins
  • Unlimited posts and pages
  • Unlimited categories and subcategories
  • Unlimited tags
  • Mobile-friendly and optimized to be viewed on all devices and screen sizes
  • Flexible—create any type of website you want
  • Scalable—can handle any size of website
  • Ability to post via email and mobile devices (there are apps available for all major mobile platforms, including iOS and Android)
  • Compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards, although it does depend on the theme you're using
  • Import of data from other blogs (Moveable Type, b2evolution, Blogger, and others)
  • Easy to administer and blog without any previous experience
  • Convenient, fully functional, built-in search
  • Multilingual with good internationalization, and also works with emojis (including all of the latest Unicode 9.0 emoji characters)
  • Secure code
  • Ability to password-protect content
  • Comments manager and spam protection
  • Built-in workflow (write, draft, review, and publish)
  • Intelligent text and content editing via a visual editor called Gutenberg
  • Multiuser and multiauthor support for user accounts
  • Feature-rich Media Library for managing photos and other non-text content through a visual and highly usable interface
  • Social media integration capabilities
  • Dynamic and scalable revision functionality with post (edit) locking
  • Built-in embed functionality through shortcodes (compatible with services such as YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, SoundCloud, and others)
  • An admin panel that's accessible via all modern devices, operating systems, and web browsers
  • Full accessibility for frontend elements of the website
  • User-friendly image editing, plus a drag-and-drop image-importing feature
  • Advanced SEO features through plugins and themes
  • Integrated REST API infrastructure

Learning more

If you'd like to see detailed lists of all the new features added to WordPress, just take a look into the Codex. You can easily find the subpage for each individual version. Simply take the following web address and replace X and Y with the version number you're looking for.

https://codex.wordpress.org/Version_X.Y

For example, if you want to learn about WordPress 5.0, go to:

https://codex.wordpress.org/Version_5.0

Also, you can read a fully explained feature list at https://wordpress.org/about/features/.

 

Learning more with online WordPress resources


One very useful characteristic of WordPress is that it has a large, active, online community. Everything you will ever need for your WordPress website can most likely be found online, and probably for free. In addition to this, these days we can also find many paid resources and training programs that offer expert advice and training, revolving around many different possible usages of a WordPress site:

 

Staying updated with WordPress news


As WordPress is constantly being developed, it's important to keep yourself up-to-date with the software community's latest activities.

If you visit the dashboard of your own WordPress site regularly, you'll be able to stay up-to-date with WordPress news and software releases. There are widgets on the dashboard that display the latest news and announcements, and an alert always appears when there is a new version of WordPress available for download and installation.

If you prefer to visit the website, then the most important spot to visit or subscribe to is WordPress Releases. Whenever there is a new release, be it a major release, or an interim bug fix, or an upgrade, it will be at https://wordpress.org/news/category/releases/.

Also, be sure to stay tuned to the main WordPress blog at https://wordpress.org/news/.

Some additional resources worth mentioning are as follows:

  • https://wordpress.org/: The absolute main hub for WordPress.
  • https://wordpress.com/: The commercial service for creating blogs and websites.
  • http://jobs.wordpress.net/: Job listings for anyone searching for employment in areas related to WordPress (or anyone searching for WordPress help).
  • https://wordpress.tv/: A great source of top-notch WordPress tutorials, how-to advice, case studies, product demonstrations, and WordPress-related conference presentation recordings.
  • https://central.wordcamp.org/: WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress; it takes place a number of times during the year in different locations around the world, and this site is the central point for the conference.
 

Understanding the Codex


The WordPress Codex is the central repository of all the information that 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 the installation, and lists of every template tag and hook. Throughout this book, I'll be providing links to specific pages within the Codex, which will deliver more or advanced information on the topics in this book.

The Codex can be found at https://codex.wordpress.org/Main_Page. Refer to the following screenshot:

Apart from the Codex, there's also one more resource that will come in handy to new and experienced developers alike. It's called the WordPress Code Reference, and it can be found at https://developer.wordpress.org/reference/. It delivers a lot of documentation on WordPress's functions, classes, methods, and hooks.

 

Getting support from other users


The online WordPress community asks questions and responds with solutions on the WordPress forum at https://wordpress.org/support/. It's an excellent place to go if you can't find the answer to a problem in the codex. If you have a question, then probably someone else has had it as well, and WordPress experts spend time in the forum answering them and providing solutions.

 

Using theme and plugin directories


There are official directories for themes and plugins on WordPress.org. Though not every theme and plugin is available there, the ones that are, have been vetted by the community and the review teams. Anything you download from these directories is likely to be relatively bug-free. Plugins and themes that you get from other sources can have malicious code, so be careful. You can also see what the community thinks of these downloads by looking at ratings, comments and popularity metrics:

Following is the screenshot for the WordPress Theme Directory: 

 

Summary


Having a website of your own is essential these days, no matter if you are an individual or a small business, and no matter if you are blogging regularly or just want some accurate static content up on the internet. In this chapter, we reviewed basic information about WordPress, blogging, and common blog terms for those of you who are new to the concept.

WordPress is an excellent platform that can run your website (blog or otherwise). It's packed with top-of-the-line features and is so flexible that it can really do anything you want, and it has a wealth of online resources. Additionally, it's easy to use, and you need no special skills or prior experience to work with it. Last but not least, it is 100% free!

In the next chapter, we will explore the choices and steps involved in installing WordPress and getting started. We'll cover how to install WordPress in more than a couple of ways, how to find your way around the WordPress admin panel, and how to configure your site's basic details.

About the Author

  • Karol Król

    Karol Król is a WordPress developer, PHP programmer, professional blogger and writer. He has been building expertise in WordPress ever since his early years at the Silesian University of Technology (Poland), where he graduated with a Master's degree in Computer Science. Early in his career, he worked as a freelance website developer for several years. Later on, he decided to shift his interest towards popularizing WordPress as the perfect solution for all web-based projects and devoted his time to growing his writing career.

    Browse publications by this author

Latest Reviews

(4 reviews total)
Good offer price...
Buon libro per introduzione a WordPress
The layout and typography of the ePub format is unsatisfactory

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