Introduction – What is WordPress?
WordPress is a blogging tool. Once you set up a free account at http://www.wordpress.com you can begin to create a website on anything you choose. Blogs are often used to post new information on a topic on a regular basis. This results in a website with “live” content. In other words, a site that is continually changing. A blog can be about a hobby or any topic of interest. Blogs can also be used to promote a business. Although blogs often have “live” content, it is also possible to set up static pages. This tutorial, for example, is a static page though it can be edited and updated to reflect changes.
To begin, go to the wordpress homepage at www.wordpress.com and click the blue “get started” button.
On the account creation page you will give them an email address to associate with your account and choose a username. Your username will become part of your URL as well. For example, my username is “the21stcenturyteacher” and my site’s URL is “the21stcenturyteacher.wordpress.com”. It’s best to pick a username that has some relevancy to the topic of your blog though that isn’t a hard rule. Choose a password and then create your blog. The free blog is all you need for now. You could upgrade to a paid version if you found the added features valuable to you.
The two main types of content in a blog are “posts” and “pages”. Posts are generally shorter pieces of content that have some sort of timing relevancy. You create a new post when it’s time to share that content. As you create new posts, the older ones are pushed down the page. A page is generally static content that you want to be available all the time. It is usually on a separate tab. You can have multiple pages and each will have it’s own tab. The home page is reserved for posts. However, you can elect to have a particular static page be the home page.
Once you are logged in a viewing your new WordPress site, check the top of the browser screen for the grey bar. Hover and then click on the top left section to access your dashboard. The content of the dashboard should look like this.
Click on the link for “Posts” or “Pages” to create new content. When finished, click the big “Publish” button the on the right. You can also have content scheduled for later publication if you do not what it to appear immediately.
Choosing Themes and Widgets
The theme determines how the site will look and also which types of widgets are available or built in. For example, some themes have tabs for pages built into the theme and others do not. Some themes have more configuration options as well such as replaceable banner images. To pick a theme, choose the “Appearance” link on the left of the dashboard then scan through the various options. Blogs are most commonly 2 or 3 columns but other options exist. Columns break the blog into visual sections. There is usually a main content section that is larger than the rest. This is where content from posts or pages will appear. The smaller side columns are used for widgets. Pick a theme that you feel is attractive and makes the information on your blog most easily accessible and readable.
Think of widgets as tools your visitors will use. Widgets for things like searching the blog, the most recent posts or comments, an archive of past posts, and tag clouds all help visitors find information on your blog. Widgets can be changed from the “Appearance” tab as well which opens with a list of sub categories.
Adding Images or a Slideshow
When creating posts or pages you will be using an editor window similar to many document and editing tools. In the upper right corner of this window is a set of icons for inserting media. It will look like the image below. The first icon is for adding media, the middle one for a poll and the third one for forms.
To insert an image, click the first icon. You will get a window that looks like this:
Drag your image file here or click the link to select a file from your computer. You can also insert images via URL, previously uploaded images in the gallery or the media library.
You can also insert a series of images as a Gallery such as the one below. When editing a page or post, click the “Add Media” button above the formatting toolbar. Next, choose “create gallery” from the menu at the left. Choose the images you want and click the blue “create a new gallery” button on the bottom right. You can edit the order of images by clicking and dragging.
Similarly, you can create a slideshow. This will insert all images in the gallery as a slideshow. It is created the same way as above except you will just change the type to slideshow from the dropdown menu.
More information can be found on the WordPress Support site.