Why Use WordPress? Plug-Ins!

We Love WordPress

WordPress is a tremendous website publishing platform for our customers.  For customers who are only moderately computer literate, managing content such as pages, blog posts and images is straightforward and can be handled without a web programmer, a big cost savings for many customers.  On top of being an easy to use content management system, WordPress offers thousands of third-party plug-ins that extend and enhance the capabilities of WordPress.

WordPress Plug-Ins

Another reason why WordPress is a great website publishing tool are the thousands of plug-ins available.  Plug-Ins are additional blocks of code that have typically been built by programmers to solve a specific problem that website developers face.  The plug-ins range from simple image gallery display systems to extremely complex e-commerce systems.  Many plug-ins are free, some offer a paid premium option for even more functionality.  Some plug-ins are only available as a paid option.

If you are loading up a plug-in, and it has a free option and a paid premium option, I recommend that in most circumstance, choose the paid premium options.  Most premium options are $50 or less and the price will be well worth it.  Often plug-ins are distributed free, and users are simply asked to donate to the author.  You are not required to donate to use the plug-in, but please consider sending them $15 to $20.  It’s a small price to pay for a block of code that would likely take weeks or months to develop.

Plug-Ins Add Functionality

WordPress themes can offer a wide range of designs, layouts and functionality.  Where the theme code leaves off, plug-ins add that enhanced functionality that may not be built into the theme.  For example, I have often found a nice, simple theme that has the layout and look I want, but is short on features such as a built-in slideshow or user registration system.  Load up the right plug-in and now both are taken care of.

Plug-In Updates

Stay on top of your WordPress plug-ins but updating them when you are notified of new versions.  When you log in to your WordPress dashboard, if updates are available, you will see a red number next to the Plugins menu item.

wordpress-plugin-updates

Plugin updates are often to repair minor bugs, add new features, or enhance your website’s security.

4 Steps to Starting with WordPress

The Get Started Guide to using WordPress can be summed up in about 4 easy steps (assuming you already have a web hosting account).

  1. Install WordPress to your site
  2. Add your Theme
  3. Add an SEO Plug-In
  4. Add Your Content

Each step has some best practices.  Without getting into deep level WordPress customization, here is what we recommend.

Install WordPress to your site

Most of the world uses the cPanel webhosting platform.  Within the cPanel is a simple button to click to install WordPress.  It will look like this:

wordpress-web-host-softaculous

There are a few simple questions to answer on the form that follows.  Whenever possible, use the defaults that are suggested.

Add Your Theme

Near the bottom of the install form/screen, you can choose the initial Theme to install with WordPress.  A Theme is a set of website design files and functions that work together to add style and feel to your website.  You can scroll through and choose a home page that catches your attention.  Select the Theme, then be sure to add your email address to the box below the INSTALL button (yes, poorly placed), then click the INSTALL button.

Add an SEO Plug-In

Assuming you want to attract visitors to your site, we strongly recommend adding the Yoast SEO Plug-In for WordPress.  It’s simply the best SEO tool available.  Reasonably easy to use and very powerful.

Adding plug-ins is generally a step I would recommend for non-newbies, but follow these steps to add Yoast.  It’s well worth the effort.  More about using Yoast in a later post.

  1. From Your Dashboard, down the left had side, click Plugins – Add New
  2. In the search box, enter Yoast SEO
  3. Click on Yoast SEO and Then Install
  4. After the install, click to activate Yoast using default settings.

wordpress-plugin-install

wordpress-yoast-seo

We will spend more time on Yoast SEO for WordPress in the future, plus much more time on some of the best Plugins for WordPress.

 Add Your Content

Begin adding content to your website by writing a couple of Posts and a couple of Pages.  These are different content types that you will become familiar with.  A Post is what my also be called a blog article or a news post.  This page you are reading now is a Post.  Posts can contain text, images, links videos and are generally used for topical or timely information.  Pages are similar.  WordPress can contain the same types of content but are usually available in the website’s main navigation menu.  The Post articles are usually found in a listing of topics or by dates within a sidebar on the website.  There will be more about how to organize your content at a later date in a later post.  For now, when you add your pages, they will automatically be included in your website navigation menu in the default menu position for your WordPress Theme.

 

This is a beginners guide to getting a WordPress site up and running. We will be posting some more advanced WordPress advice in the near future.  Some future articles include Beginners Guide to WordPress SEO, WordPress Content Organization, WordPress Post Categories and Tags, WordPress Plug-Ins You Must Have plus many more.