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The easy, self-paced guide to the powerful WordPressplatform
WordPress 24-Hour Trainer, 3rd Edition provides acomprehensive, unique book-and-video package that focuses on thepractical, everyday tasks you will face when creating andmaintaining WordPress websites. This easy-to-use, friendly guidewill show you how to create and edit pages, integrate your sitewith social media, keep your site secure, make content more searchengine friendly to help ...
The easy, self-paced guide to the powerful WordPressplatform
WordPress 24-Hour Trainer, 3rd Edition provides acomprehensive, unique book-and-video package that focuses on thepractical, everyday tasks you will face when creating andmaintaining WordPress websites. This easy-to-use, friendly guidewill show you how to create and edit pages, integrate your sitewith social media, keep your site secure, make content more searchengine friendly to help drive website traffic, troubleshoot themost common WordPress issues, and much more.
This updated edition of WordPress 24-Hour Trainer covers thelatest features of WordPress 4.0 and 4.1 in an easy-to-useformat:
WordPress 24-Hour Trainer, 3rd Edition is yourperfect real-world guide to fully leveraging this powerfulplatform.
WordPress provides you with the tools to organize your website content, but those tools function in specific ways, just as one type of word processing software has its specific buttons for creating, say, lists. But there's a difference between knowing which button to press to create a list and thinking about ways you can use lists in your documents. That's what this lesson is about: learning to think like WordPress so that you can organize your content in an efficient and flexible manner right from the start, and be able to use it in new and useful ways later.
DYNAMIC VS. STATIC WEBSITES
When you open a website in your browser, you see a single page filled with text and media (graphics, photos, video, and so on), as a page in a magazine or newspaper is a single entity made up of text and images. But what you see in a browser window is created from a series of instructions: the HTML code. So ultimately, the HTML is the single entity behind what you see onscreen: the equivalent of the printed page.
However, there's an important difference between an HTML page and a printed page. The HTML that's fed to your browser may be a single entity when it arrives at the browser, but it may or may not be a single entity sitting on the server waiting for browsers to retrieve it, like a magazine on a newsstand waiting to be purchased. The HTML may be made up of chunks of code that get assembled into a whole in that split second when the browser pulls it off the shelf.
That's the difference between dynamic and static web pages. Static pages are complete sets of HTML waiting to be retrieved, whereas dynamic pages are chunks of HTML that are assembled at the moment of retrieval into a single entity that's displayed in your browser (some systems store the most recent static version of a dynamically created page to keep the server from being overworked, but ultimately, the browser pages were created dynamically).
What I want you to take away from this lesson in particular, but the book in general, is to reject static thinking in favor of dynamic. You might have a vision right now for the content of a particular page on your website, but if you learn to view the content in chunks, there may be ways to use part of that content on another page as well. Dynamic thinking means you want to keep that chunk of content separate and reusable, not welded to the other content.
CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
Creating HTML pages dynamically is one half of what a content management system (CMS) does: it takes chunks of code (your content) and pieces them together into a single HTML page. The other function of a CMS is to provide an easy way for you, the user, to manage all those chunks of content.
Managing content does not just mean allowing you to enter text or upload images; it also means making it easy for you to determine the relationships between chunks of content. Selecting a category for the article you're working on, for example, tells the CMS to assemble that chunk in a particular way when someone on the Internet requests a page on your website.
Everybody understands the role of a CMS when it comes to managing content: it saves having to know HTML coding. But why not just have the CMS manage the content of individual HTML pages? All this assembling business seems like a lot of extra work. If you had a five-page website that never changed, that might be true. But suppose, even on a five-page website, that you decided you didn't like the top section or header that appears on all the pages of your site. Although a CMS for static pages would make it easy to change, you'd still need to change the graphics on all five pages separately, because they're all individual, physical pieces of coding. Now imagine that task on a site with 500 pages or 5,000! Even with search-and-replace capabilities, you would need to upload all 5,000 pages back onto the server to replace the old version, then do it all again for the next change. Ouch!
By separating the content of individual HTML pages into chunks, a CMS offers tremendous flexibility. Say you wanted 3,000 of your pages to have a different kind of header than the other 2,000. Easy, with a CMS! What if your business partner decides that your line of 500 different wuzzbuzzes should be categorized under buzz instead of wuzz? Easy, with a CMS!
We're always being told to embrace change, and one of the advantages of a website over print is that it allows you to change things as much as you want, as often as you want. The advantage of using a CMS instead of manually creating static or dynamic web pages is that the managing of change is much easier and more flexible, which is exactly what WordPress does.
WordPress as a CMS
In the first edition of this book, I explained that, although WordPress was developed as blogging software, it could be manipulated to be used as a CMS for any type of site. With the latest versions of WordPress, it has become a full-fledged CMS. But the question still remains: why use WordPress for your website? Lots of other content management systems are out there—good ones—that are also open source. I think the answer is twofold:
* The simplicity and flexibility of WordPress's design make it easy to learn, easy to expand, and easy to customize.
* The WordPress community is so large and so vibrant that you have excellent support, and will have for years to come.
The fact is, every CMS requires creative thinking, sometimes add-on software, and sometimes customization of the coding, because every site owner will have specific needs. No one CMS can fulfill everyone's requirements right out of the box.
All websites have a lot of common elements that may have different names and different functions, but from the standpoint of HTML coding, they operate in basically the same way. For instance, I need a page full of testimonials whereas you need a page of all your current specials. If a testimonial and a special are the chunks of content, all we need the CMS to do is assemble our chunks into whole pages. Your header and footer may be very different in look and content from mine, but we both need a header and a footer. A good CMS couldn't care less which is which—it just assembles and manages, easily and efficiently. As WordPress does.
HOW WORDPRESS ASSEMBLES PAGES
Three basic structures in WordPress interact to create HTML pages: the core, the theme, and the database (where content is stored). The core is the set of files that you download from WordPress.org and that perform the tasks of storing, retrieving, and assembling content. The database is where the content is stored and the theme is made up of template files that provide instructions to the core about what to retrieve and how to assemble it, as I've tried to illustrate in Figure 1-1.
Why Separate Is Good
You saw earlier why it's important that a CMS keep form (design and structure) and content (text and media files) separate, and now you're seeing the particular power of the way WordPress achieves this. Remember that earlier example of wanting 3,000 pages to have one header and 2,000 pages a different header? Depending on exactly how WordPress generates those pages, you might have to add only one template file to your theme to accomplish the change.
If you want to see a dramatic example of how the separation of form and content works on the Web, visit a site called CSS Zen Garden (www.csszengarden.com). You can instantly switch between dozens of incredibly different looks, all presenting exactly the same content.
But separating form and content isn't the only useful kind of separation that WordPress employs. It also separates the form from the core—the set of files that do the actual assembling and managing. That core is completely separate from the theme and the content, which is a good thing from a number of standpoints, the most important of which is the ability to easily update the core.
Software of any kind is constantly being given new features, strengthened for security, made more efficient, and so on. If you had to completely redo your theme every time the core needed an update, it would be very inefficient, just as having to redo your website content because of a new structure or look would be inefficient. As I said earlier, WordPress at its heart is a set of three separate structures—the core, the theme, and the content (in a database)—each of which can be tweaked, updated, or completely replaced, all independently.
There's a fourth separate structure to WordPress that is entirely optional: plugins. These are bits of extra code that you literally plug into the WordPress system and they provide additional functionality, from letting people rate the content on your site to automatically creating tweets on Twitter.
Sometimes, people ask why they don't just incorporate the plugins into the core, but that would be defeating the whole purpose of this elegant and flexible system. To begin with, plugins are meant to address specific needs. Why clutter the core with features that not everyone uses? Sometimes, a plugin is so useful to everyone that it is eventually incorporated into the core, but most plugins aren't like that. Also, the more complex the core, the better the chance things will break down. Keep the core simple and add on extras as you need them. I have some WordPress sites with only two plugins, and others have dozens.
Another reason for keeping extra features as plugins is that there can be many variations of a plugin, each one serving the needs of a group of users. A good example would be plugins for photos—some are very simple, some are very complex, some work better than others. Having a choice of those plugins, rather than being stuck with only one, is another important advantage.
HOW WORDPRESS MANAGES CONTENT
Very easily, thank you. Like any CMS, WordPress stores the chunks of content it uses to assemble HTML pages in a database. Getting that content into the database, letting you edit that content, and then storing instructions about how that content relates to other content is really what managing the content means. All databases work pretty much the same way, and though part of WordPress's simplicity and flexibility stems from the way its creators built the database and the files to run it, what ultimately matters to users is the interface that's used to do the managing. It's this administrative interface (a sample screen is shown in Figure 1-2) that my clients and hundreds of thousands of users around the world find so easy to use—for them, it is WordPress.
Every CMS has its particular way of dealing with content and though WordPress is extremely easy to use, you still need to understand how it refers to content and the methods it uses to organize content. Take posts, for example. In the world of blogging, people refer to the act of creating a new blog entry as posting. So it's not surprising that the primary kind of content chunk in WordPress is called a post, but that doesn't mean we have to use WordPress posts exclusively for a blog. A post is just a block of text and some instructions stored in a database. They could just as well have called them chunks. We don't want to get tied to how we use posts simply because they were originally intended for and named after an element within blogs.
WordPress has another type of content chunk called a page, but not the HTML pages you see in your browser. Like posts, WordPress pages are essentially blocks of text and accompanying instructions stored in a database. They're different from posts, though, in several ways. For a start, you can put only one WordPress page at a time into the final assembled HTML page. On the other hand, you can have dozens or even hundreds of posts displayed on a single assembled HTML page.
Suppose you set up WordPress so that each press release for your company is entered as an individual post. Then, you tell WordPress to show the five most recent press release posts. Whenever you add a new press release, it goes to the top of the list. On the other hand, the content describing your company's mission statement doesn't change that often—it's static in comparison to press releases—so you set up a WordPress page for that content. That's how you'll hear people describe the difference between posts and pages: one is for dynamic content and the other is for static content. The main thing is not to confuse a WordPress page with the final HTML page that gets generated and viewed by the public. WordPress pages and posts are both chunks of content that just get utilized in different ways.
There's another important difference between posts and pages: posts can be categorized whereas pages cannot. Pages can be a sub-page of another page, but it's a very limited relationship. There's a lot you can do with categories, as you will see later, but I'll mention one here: a post can be placed in multiple categories at the same time. That has enormous consequences for how you use posts. It makes it very simple for the content of a post to appear in several or even dozens of places on a website.
Excerpted from WordPress 24-Hour Trainer by George Plumley Copyright © 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
SECTION I: BEFORE YOU START
LESSON 1: THINKING LIKE WORDPRESS 3
Static Versus Dynamic Web Pages 3
Content Management Systems 5
LESSON 2: PLANNING YOUR SITE FOR WORDPRESS 11
Mapping Out Your Site Content 11
Special Site Functionality 16
How You Want the Site to Look 18
Try It 20
SECTION II: FIRING UP WORDPRESS
LESSON 3: INSTALLING WORDPRESS 23
Hosting WordPress 23
Manually Installing WordPress 25
Auto-Installing WordPress 27
When the Installation Is Finished 28
Try It 29
LESSON 4: ADMIN AREA OVERVIEW 31
Logging In 31
Navigating the Admin Area 32
The Dashboard 36
Customizing Admin Screens 36
Getting Comfortable 39
Try It 41
LESSON 5: BASIC ADMIN SETTINGS 43
The Settings Menu 43
Profile Settings 49
Try It 53
LESSON 6: ADDING A NEW POST: AN OVERVIEW 57
Navigating to Add a New Post 57
Adding a New Post 59
Try It 66
LESSON 7: WORKING WITH TEXT IN THE CONTENT EDITOR 69
Anatomy of the Content Editor 69
Working with the Content Editor 73
Try It 88
LESSON 8: BASIC POST SCREEN FUNCTIONS 89
Try It 102
LESSON 9: ADVANCED POST FUNCTIONS 103
Custom Fields 107
Try It 110
LESSON 10: ADDING A NEW PAGE 113
Pages Versus Posts 113
Adding a Page 113
Page Attributes 115
Try It 118
LESSON 11: THE BASICS OF ADDING MEDIA FILES 121
Uploading and Inserting an Image into a Post 121
Uploading an Image to the Media Library 125
Problems Uploading Media Files 128
Try It 131
LESSON 12: THE MEDIA UPLOADER WINDOW 133
Insert Media 135
Create Gallery 142
Set Featured Image 143
Insert from URL 144
Try It 146
LESSON 13: WORKING WITH IMAGES IN THE CONTENT EDITOR 149
The Image Details Window 149
Moving Images 153
Resizing Images 154
Design Considerations for Image Placement 157
Try It 159
LESSON 14: USING THE WORDPRESS IMAGE EDITOR 161
The Image Editor Functions 163
Cropping an Image 164
Scaling an Image 166
Controlling WordPress Image Dimensions 167
Flipping an Image 168
Try It 169
LESSON 15: WORKING WITH WORDPRESS IMAGE GALLERIES 171
Creating an Image Gallery in a Post 171
More Gallery Options 177
Try It 180
LESSON 16: ADDING VIDEO AND AUDIO 183
Try It 191
LESSON 17: ADDING DOCUMENTS 193
Uploading and Inserting a Document 193
Document File Types 196
Updating a Document 196
Try It 198
LESSON 18: MANAGING POSTS AND PAGES 201
Finding Posts and Pages 201
Using Quick Edit 204
Using Bulk Actions 206
Importing Content from Another Site 208
Admin Settings Affecting Posts and Pages 210
Try It 213
LESSON 19: MANAGING MEDIA FILES 215
The Two Faces of the Media Library 215
Filtering and Searching the Media Library 219
Editing and Deleting Media Files 220
Admin Settings for Media 221
Try It 223
LESSON 20: MANAGING POST CATEGORIES AND TAGS 225
Managing Categories 225
Managing Tags 229
Converting Categories and Tags 230
Try It 232
LESSON 21: MANAGING WIDGETS AND MENUS 235
Widgets and Widget Areas 235
The WordPress Menu System 239
Try It 247
LESSON 22: CONNECTING TO SOCIAL MEDIA 251
Helping Visitors Follow You 251
Letting Visitors Share Your Content 253
Posting Directly to Social Media 255
Displaying Social Media Activity 256
Try It 259
LESSON 23: MANAGING COMMENTS 261
Allow Comments? 261
Admin Settings for Commenting 261
Knowing You Have Comments 263
Approving, Editing, or Deleting Comments 265
Dealing with Spam Comments 267
Farming Out Comments 268
Try It 269
LESSON 24: BRINGING IN CONTENT FROM OTHER SITES 271
Adding Content from Third-Party Sites 272
RSS Feeds 273
Try It 277
LESSON 25: CONNECTING BY E-MAIL 279
Contacting You by E-mail 279
Collecting Visitor E-mails 282
E-mailing Site Updates 284
Try It 287
LESSON 26: MANAGING MULTIPLE SITE USERS 289
User Roles and Their Capabilities 289
Adding a User 291
Changing a User’s Abilities 293
Users and Security 293
Try It 295
SECTION VII: CHOOSING AND CUSTOMIZING THEMES
LESSON 27: OVERVIEW OF WORDPRESS THEMES 299
What Is a WordPress Theme? 299
Choosing a WordPress Theme 301
Changing Themes 305
Try It 307
LESSON 28: THEME INSTALLATION AND BASIC CUSTOMIZATION 309
Installing and Activating a Theme 309
Built-in WordPress Design Functions 314
Theme Options 321
Try It 322
LESSON 29: ADVANCED DESIGN CUSTOMIZATION 323
Using Custom CSS 323
Using a Child Theme 325
More Ways to Customize 328
Try It 330
SECTION VIII: BECOMING SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY
LESSON 30: OPTIMIZING YOUR CONTENT 333
Writing Search-Friendly Titles 333
Writing Search-Friendly Content 336
Creating Search-Friendly Links 337
Making Images Search-Friendly 338
Try It 339
LESSON 31: OPTIMIZING BEHIND THE SCENES 341
Optimizing Admin Settings 341
Meta Tags 345
Plugins for SEO 346
Monitoring Site Statistics 348
Try It 350
SECTION IX: MAINTENANCE AND SECURITY
LESSON 32: KEEPING UP TO DATE 353
Updating WordPress 353
Updating Plugins 356
Updating Themes 357
Try It 360
LESSON 33: KEEPING BACKUPS 361
The Elements of Backing Up 361
Try It 366
LESSON 34: KEEPING YOUR SITE SECURE 367
Six Steps to Greater WordPress Security 367
Dealing with Sensitive Data 371
Secure Hosting 372
Try It 375
LESSON 35: INSTALLING AND ACTIVATING PLUGINS 379
What Is a Plugin? 379
Try It 384
LESSON 36: MORE PLUGIN SUGGESTIONS 387
Plugin Categories 387
Plugins for Other Plugins and Themes 396
Try It 396
SECTION XI: REFERENCES
APPENDIX: TROUBLESHOOTING WORDPRESS 399
Site Visible but with an Error Message 399
Error Establishing a Database Connection 400
The White Screen of Death 400
Page Cannot Display 401
You Cannot Recover Your Password 401
Finding Help Online 401