Lesson One – Understanding WordPress

Lesson 1 – Understanding WordPress (for FREE!)

Topics covered in this lesson are:

  • What is WordPress
  • WordPress Front and Back End
  • Hosted Version of WordPress.com
  • WordPress Technologies
  • WordPress as a Content Management System
  • Differences between a website and a blog
    NB – For you to enjoy and follow every steps in all the lessons on our portal, you need to have your WordPress blog installed and working (ASSURE will provide you FREE Domain Name Registration and FREE Hosting)….It is your working tool. Every explanation (mostly in pictures) will be seen by you as it is on your WordPress blog/website and apply by you immediately on your WordPress blog/website. Installation and hosting of your WordPress Blog/Website is FREE!

What Is WordPress
Before we start looking at how it works, let’s take a step back and look at what WordPress actually is.

WordPress started life as a fork from the b2 blogging software, which was reasonably popular around 2003. As it developed over the next few years, WordPress gradually transformed from being a blogging platform, to being an all-round content
management system (CMS).

So what exactly is a CMS?
In the early days of the internet most websites were built using HTML. They were either hand coded, or later, by using WYSIWYG (pronounced wizzy wig – What You See Is What You Get) visual editors, such as Frontpage or Dreamweaver. This meant that development time could be lengthy, it had to be done by someone who had a reasonable grasp of HTML (even with the visual editors), and it effectively locked out the end user from being able to build the site themselves or add or change the content without having to get a technical person involved.

Of course there were advantages, such as having complete control over the look and feel of every aspect of the site. But this could be a double edged sword, with inconsistencies in the site appearance often creeping in. As someone who built a lot of static HTML sites I can tell you they were (and still are) a pain to update and maintain.

Even adding text content was a chore. What was needed was some way to add the content to the site without having to worry about every aspect of the look and feel, or the HTML code behind it. More importantly, there needed to be a way to do this without having to get a technical person involved every time new text needed to be added, or changes made.

A CMS splits out the tasks involved in creating a website into content creation, content
management, content publishing, and presentation (look and feel). This might sound like a more complicated way of doing things, but the reality is that it hugely simplifies everything and enables just about anyone to create and manage a website.

With a typical CMS, such as WordPress, content can be created in a WYSIWYG editor, much like Microsoft Word. If you have ever typed up anything in a word processor then you can create content in a CMS.

All of the content is held in a database and is pulled out of the database to be displayed to the user when the web page is visited. This means that, unlike static web sites, the pages in a CMS are dynamic and only exist when the page is requested and then constructed on the fly to be displayed.

The content management features of a CMS such as WordPress allow the content you have created to be categorised, attributed to the author, tagged, reviewed, and approved before publishing. Different aspects of the overall process can be assigned to different users, each with their own role, and that role will determine what they are allowed, and not allowed to do.

Content can be published after being reviewed by someone else, or straight away, depending on the users role. As well as that, posts to the website can either be published straight away, or scheduled to be published at a date and time in the future.

This is great for drip feeding new content to the site if you need to be away for a few days. When it comes to presentation a CMS removes a lot of the hard work. Site navigation can be created easily or automatically by the CMS reading the structure of your site.

The overall appearance and layout can be controlled by a skin, or theme, which means that the overall look and feel can be quickly and easily changed as for the most part, it is separated from the content. So that is a rough description of what a CMS is. I’ve probably made it sounds quite complex, but it really isn’t. Let’s see how this applies to WordPress?

You can think of the WordPress software as a framework around which your website will be built. You design how the content will be structured by deciding on which categories you will put your content in, you decide how you want the site to look and apply a theme (an easy way to skin your WordPress installation to make it look the way you want), and you decide on the extra functionality that your website needs, and apply the relevant plugins to add that functionality.

NOTE: Themes and plugins are key to getting WordPress looking and performing the way you want, and a separate lesson is dedicated to each.

Once you have done that, you can configure theme and plugins to suit your needs, and then add your content.

WordPress offers the following competitive advantages as the most popular
blogging tool on the market:

✓ Diversity: Three versions of WordPress are available to suit nearly every type of blogger: a hosted turnkey solution, a version to install on the Web server of your choice, and a multiuser version that lets you offer blogs across a group or organization.
✓ Ease of use: WordPress setup is quick, and the software is easy to use.
✓ Extensibility: WordPress is extremely extensible, meaning that you can easily obtain plugins and tools that let you customize it to suit your purposes.
✓ Community of users: WordPress has a large and loyal members-helping members
community via public support forums, mailing lists, and blogs geared to the use of WordPress.

WordPress Front and Back End
There is the front end, which is what the whole world sees – See figure below (your wordpress front page after installation) – These are the web pages that your visitor sees when they land on your site.

Then there is the back end (the dashboard admin area). This is where you, or someone you gave permission to, logs in and controls what happens on the site, what it looks like, adds content, and publishes it – See figure below:

Choosing the hosted version from WordPress.com
WordPress.com is a free service. If downloading, installing, and using software on a web server sound like Greek to you — and like things you’d rather avoid — the WordPress folks provide a solution for you at WordPress.com.
WordPress.com is a hosted solution, which means that it has no software requirement, no downloads, and no installation or server configurations. Everything’s done for you on the back end, behind the scenes. You don’t even have to worry about how the process happens; it happens quickly, and before you know it, you’re making your first post using a WordPress.com solution. WordPress.com has some limitations, though. You can’t install plugins or custom themes, for example, and you can’t customize the base code files.

Here are some ways that people use blogs and websites powered by WordPress:
Personal: This type of blogger creates a blog as a personal journal or diary. You’re considered to be a personal blogger if you use your blog mainly to discuss topics that
are personal to you or your life — your family, your cats, your children, or your interests (such as technology, politics, sports, art, or photography).

Business: This type of site uses the power of blogs to promote a company’s business services, products, or both. Blogs are very effective tools for promotion and marketing, and business blogs usually offer helpful information to readers and consumers, such as tips and product reviews. Business blogs also let readers provide feedback and ideas, which can help a company improve its services.

Media/journalism: More and more popular news outlets, such as Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN, have added blogs to their websites to provide information on current events, politics, and news on regional, national, and international levels. These news organizations often have editorial bloggers as well.

Citizen journalism: The emergence of citizen journalism coincided with the swing from old media to new media. In old media, the journalists and news organizations direct the
conversation about news topics. With the popularity of blogs and the millions of bloggers who exploded onto the Internet, old media felt a change in the wind. Average
citizens, using the power of their voices on blogs, changed the direction of the conversation. Citizen journalists often fact-check traditional media news stories and
expose inconsistencies, with the intention of keeping the media or local politicians in check.

Professional: This category of blogger is growing every day. Professional bloggers are paid to blog for individual companies or websites. Also, several services match
advertisers with bloggers so that the advertisers pay bloggers to make blog posts about their products. Is it possible to make money as a blogger? Yes, and making money by blogging is common these days.

WordPress Technologies
The WordPress software is a personal publishing system that uses PHP and MySQL. This platform provides everything you need to create your own website and publish your own content dynamically, without having to know how to program those pages yourself. In short, all your content is stored in a MySQL database in your hosting account.

PHP (which stands for Hypertext Preprocessor — and PHP itself originally stood for personal home page, as named by its creator, Rasmus Lerdorf) is a server-side scripting
language for creating dynamic web pages. When a visitor opens a page built in PHP, the
server processes the PHP commands and then sends the results to the visitor’s browser.

MySQL is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) that uses
Structured Query Language (SQL), the most popular language for adding, accessing,
and processing data in a database. If all that sounds like Greek to you, just think of
MySQL as a big filing cabinet in which all the content on your website is stored.

Every time a visitor goes to your website to read your content, he makes a request that’s sent to a host server. The PHP programming language receives that request, obtains the requested information from the MySQL database, and then presents the requested information to your visitor through his web browser.

In using the term content as it applies to the data that’s stored in the MySQL database, I’m referring to your posts, pages, comments, and options that you set up in the WordPress Dashboard. The theme (design) you choose to use for your website — whether it’s the default theme, one you create for yourself, or one that you have custom-designed — isn’t part of the content, or data, stored in the database assigned to your website. Those files are part of the file system and aren’t stored in the database. So create and keep backups of any theme files that you’re using.

Using WordPress as a Content Management System
You see something like the following a lot if you browse websites that publish articles about WordPress: “WordPress is more than a blogging platform; it’s a full content
management system.” A content management system (CMS) is a platform that lets you run a full website on your domain. This means that WordPress enables you to create
and publish all kinds of content on your site, including pages, blog posts, e-commerce pages for selling products, videos, audio files, and events.

Exploring the differences between a website and a blog
A website and a blog are two different things. Although a website can contain a blog, a blog doesn’t and can’t contain a full website. I know that this description sounds confusing, but after you read this section and explore the differences between blogs and websites, you’ll have a better understanding.

A blog is a chronological display of content, most often posts or articles written by the blog author. Those posts (or articles) are published, usually categorized in topics, and
archived by date. Blog posts can have comments activated, which means that readers of a blog post can leave their feedback and the blog post author can respond, thereby
creating an ongoing dialogue between author and reader.

A website is a collection of published pages and sections that offer the visitor a variety of
experiences or information. Part of the website can be a blog that enhances the overall visitor experience, but it usually includes other sections and features such as
the following:
Photo galleries: This area of your website houses albums and galleries of uploaded photos, allowing your visitors to browse and comment on the photos you display.
E-commerce store: This feature is a fully integrated shopping cart through which you can upload products for sale, and your visitors can purchase your products via
your online store.
Discussion forums: This area of your website allows visitors to join, create discussion threads, and respond to one another in specific threads of conversation.
Social community: This section of your website allows visitors to become members, create profiles, become friends with other members, create groups, and aggregate community activity.
Portfolio of work: If you’re a photographer or web designer, for example, you can display your work in a specific section of your site.
Feedback forms: You can have a page on your website with a contact form that visitors can fill out to contact you via email.
Static pages such as a Bio, FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), or Services page: These pages don’t change as often as a blog page does. Blog pages change each time you publish a new post. Static pages contain content that doesn’t change very often.

Using WordPress as a CMS means that you’re using it to create not just a blog, but an entire website full of sections and features that offer a different experience for your visitors.

End of Lesson 1 – See you in Lesson Two

You can post your comments/questions in the comment box below. We will try as much as possible to reply most comments…but remember to check your email address for answers to unpublished comments.

Thank you…..and happy blogging….


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The Tests Administrator,
ASSURE Educational Services
35, Charity Road, Abule Egba, Lagos Nigeria.
07063397940, 08050701465
[email protected]

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