31 Steps to Mastering WordPress

Mastering WordPress

Are you ready to become a WordPress ninja?

For the well-initiated, WordPress a pretty intuitive Content Management System (CMS). Those of us who have been using it for a while can get around it with ease.

But cast your mind back to when you were a beginner. I distinctly remember being rather overwhelmed with the sheer breadth of options available to me. And yet, in reality, WordPress is easy to use. It’s a just a case of knowing the right things.

And that is the purpose of this post – to pull together all of the basic information that a complete WordPress beginner should know from the outset. Learning all of the tips and tricks below should save beginners a lot of time (and headaches). And who knows – even if you have been using WordPress for a while, you may well learn something new!

Introducing WordPress

First of all – congratulations. In picking WordPress, you have made (in my humble opinion) the right choice. WordPress will quite possibly be the last CMS you ever use.

  1. First of all, get started with an introduction to blogging.
  2. If you want full control of your blog, you must start with self-hosted WordPress. The software itself is free – you will only pay a nominal sum for a domain and hosting.
  3. Once installed, make sure that your blog is set up correctly.
  4. You may want to set your user profile(s) up.
  5. WordPress is packed with hidden features – here are five, and five more.

Themes

Twenty Eleven Theme

Your blog will be nothing without a theme. Whilst the default Twenty Eleven theme is okay, it is somewhat lacking in features (or design pizzazz). Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to you.

  1. If you want to avoid malicious or outdated and insecure code, only ever download themes from trusted sources. Here’s why.
  2. Here are some trusted sources.
  3. Of course, you shouldn’t forget the WordPress Themes Directory.
  4. And if you’re looking for the best new free themes available for WordPress, keep an eye on our free themes of the month feature.
  5. You may want to get yourself a premium theme. Here are five reasons why, and here are the top 10 premium theme designers.

Plugins

Plugins

Plugins represent the beating heart of WordPress. Its enormous growth over the past few years is largely down to the huge number of plugins that have been released – most of which are completely free.

  1. It doesn’t matter how many plugins you install – it is the quality of those plugins that makes the difference.
  2. Take a look at 20 free WordPress plugins that provide mainstream extensibility to your blog.
  3. If you’re planning on having a lot of content, you’ll definitely want a good search box on your site.
  4. Of course, you shouldn’t forget the WordPress Plugins Directory.
  5. And if you’re looking for the best new free plugins available for WordPress, keep an eye on our free plugins of the month feature (are you getting deja vu?).
  6. Beware of the ramifications of utilizing plugins and widgets.

Publishing

WordPress Publishing

You’re likely to spend the vast majority of your time in WordPress writing posts and pages, so you should take the time to understand all of the workings of the New Post/Page screens.

  1. Make sure that you know the difference between posts and pages.
  2. Check out these 7 New Post/Page features that you may not know about.
  3. Master the Visual Editor, then the HTML Editor, then the Media Uploader.
  4. If you feel a little constricted by the Visual Editor, check out the screen real estate you get with the Distraction Free Editor.

Promotion

WordPress Promotion

Although WordPress itself is a publishing platform (rather than a promotional platform), that does not mean that you can’t get some of your promotional tasks done from within WordPress – especially if you install the right plugins.

  1. Don’t concern yourself too greatly with SEO – just follow these simple steps.
  2. Automate post publication to Facebook.
  3. You’ll probably be using Twitter. Here’s how to integrate it perfectly with your WordPress blog.
  4. Set up Feedburner for your blog.

Optimization, Maintenance and Management

WordPress Maintenance

Making sure that your WordPress site remains a well-oiled machine is both important and heavily neglected in equal parts. Keeping your blog well-optimized, maintained and managed is of vital importance – make sure that you keep on top of it.

  1. You must back up your site regularly.
  2. Optimize your images!
  3. Don’t forget to do your housekeeping every once in a while.
  4. Be sure to keep an eye on your load speed. It’s important.
  5. You’ll soon get fed up of receiving a notification every time someone leaves a comment on your site – they are much easier to handle via the Comments tab in the sidebar.

Contributing

Contributing to WordPress

We are all responsible for the past and future success of WordPress. It relies upon open source contributors to make it what it is. You could be one of those contributors.

  1. Free plugin developers work very hard, and often for no reward. Take a moment to thank the developers of the free plugins that you use.
  2. If you want to contribute to continuing WordPress development and/or support, you’re never too inexperienced to make a start.

What Did We Miss?

I’m sure you will be able to spot some key tips for beginners that we did not include above. So in the interests of making this as complete a resource as possible, please do not hesitate to make your suggestions in the comments section below!

Creative Commons images courtesy of opensourceway, hmboo, futureshape, Joel Montes, brunkford braun and Sean MacEntee

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2 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    25.1 WordPress Security. There are several good plugins out there and also a bunch of stuff that can be added to htaccess to harden a WP installation. Some tips on dealing with SPAM could also have been included in this section.