Intro

Tutorial Overview

Topics covered in this WordPress tutorial (click link to jump to topic):

1. What is WordPress?
2. The Two Faces of WordPress
3. Why is it any good?
4. How is the CMS model different?
5. Ticked off…

What is WordPress?

Put simply, WordPress is a content management system. That means it has a hidden back door to the web site that can be accessed with a user name and password. Once you are logged into the back end or mission control or the dashboard, or whatever you prefer to call it, you control the front end of the site.

According to www.wordpress.org: “WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.”

According to wikipedia: “WordPress is a free and open source blog publishing application.

The Two Faces of WordPress

WordPress has a free, hosted solution at www.wordpress.com OR you can download and set up a complete installation of WordPress on your own domain from www.wordpress.org.

People generally graduate from one to the other, ending up with their own site. The hosted solution is a good place to start because you can’t break anything.

Why WordPress, after all there are many other content management systems out there?

The short answer is: it’s easier to use than the other systems. People get up to speed with WordPress faster and get more out of it over the longer term. The worst outcome for a content management system is that people don’t get it when they first log in. They never get to first base and abandon the idea of managing their own web site.

Also there is a massive number of people writing plugins and new themes for WordPress. It is very extendable. Plugins are little modules of helper software that do a specific function. You can add and remove them easily. Likewise, themes control the design. Many thousands of these are pre-existing and only need to be downloaded and installed on the site.

The CMS model: how is it different from the HTML/CSS model?

Formerly web developers made HTML, CSS and image files locally, off the web server, with tools like Dreamweaver and Photoshop. These files could be browsed offline and the navigation tested etc. Then once complete and tested they could be uploaded to the web server.

However, In the CMS model everything is created in situ, or the server, in real time. The site is best built where it is eventually going to live. If the site is pre existing, that is, the WordPress install replaces an earlier version, building in /new can be an option and then it can be moved to the root. This does create work in some instances.

Ticked off…

  • Content management, change it when you want
  • Free off-the-shelf design called “themes”, change design more easily than a static site
  • Free upgrades to the core WordPress files, improves reliability and security
  • Plugins for forms, image galleries, e-commerce, SEO, and, in fact, most things you can think of
  • Use it as a blog, or not
  • Link management
  • Extensive documentation

Other Resources

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