WordPress Beginner’s Boot Camp – Article 3 – Building Basics

Posted OnDec 13, 2013     CategoryQuestion & Answer     CommentsNo comment

We’ve finally arrived!  The past two sessions have focused primarily on prep work for your WordPress site. We went over developing an outline for the site, and the most important options within the WordPress dashboard including Appearances, Themes, Posts, Pages and Users.  Now, it’s time for the good stuff – actually building your site!  Are you ready???  Great – let’s get started!

Driving the Dashboard:
During Session Two, we briefly discussed appearance when you activated a theme for your site.  Go ahead and open your webpage (not the dashboard but your actual site) and take a look at your site.  Are you still happy with your theme?  If not – no worries – you can always change your theme!  Simply log in to the Dashboard, click into “Appearance” and the default screen will show a wide variety of available themes.  I do recommend sticking with a “free” theme until you’ve really built out your site.

Widgets:
Now that you’ve established a “look” for your site, we need to protect your little piece of the web. Unfortunately, SPAM is a big problem for sites.  It is mostly related to junk comments.  You know the type – “Make $5k a day doing nothing!” and you don’t want your site overrun with that sort of nonsense.  In order to keep the site secure and comments on the up and up we need to install a Widget.

What is a Widget, you ask?  Great question!  A widget is a drag and drop (or click and install) content component.  Widgets add functionality and flexibility to your website.  In this session we are going to look at widgets that are included with default WordPress plugins.  Head back to your dashboard and locate “Widgets” under the “Appearance” heading.  A screen will pop up that looks like this:

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As you can see, there are MANY widgets available.  Right now, since we are focused on getting your site live and less on all the cool features and functionality (that will come in Sessions 4 and 5) we’re just going to install a few key widgets.  One of the most important is the Akismet Widget which blocks SPAM comments from your site.  Click on the “Akisment Widget.”  There are three different areas to “activate” the widget; Primary Sidebar, Content Sidebar and Footer Widget Area.  The Primary Sidebar is located on the left hand side of your site and the Content Sidebar is located on the right.  An example is below – your sidebar options might look slightly different as they are theme dependent.

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The Footer Widget Area is located at the bottom of your website and looks like this:

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Go ahead and activate the “Askiment” widget and take another look at the remaining options. I recommend also activating “Recent Posts”, “Pages”, “Search”, “Categories” and “Archives.”  The widgets can be organized as you like – simply drag within the sidebar area on the dashboard until you are happy with the arrangement. Your site is now protected against SPAM and we are ready to move on!

Pages:
Return to the dashboard and click on the “Pages” option.  It will default to the “All Pages” screen.  Here, you can see any pages you already created AND create new pages.   Go ahead and click “Add New.”  In Session Two we discussed the importance of pages and you completed a quick “pages” list exercise.  Do you have that handy?  If so, go ahead and take a look at it.  If not, you can still play along.   The “Add New Page” interface looks like this:

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Enter a title for the page and some content in the text box.  If you do not have relevant content handy or are unsure what to say, simply put in filler.  You can always go back and modify.  Right now our goal is to set the framework for your site. Once you have entered a title and content, click “Save Draft.”  This will add the page but does not show it live on your site.  Repeat the process until you have added all the pages.

Now, return to the Dashboard and go back to the Appearance option.  Click into “Appearance” and then click on “Menus”.   This is where you will set up the site menu using the pages you just created.  Go ahead and name your menu.  No one will see the name it is simply for tracking purposes should you decide to create multiple menus.  Once you’ve named your menu, go ahead and click “Create Menu.”  You will be routed to a screen that looks like this:

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The pages you just created should appear on the left hand side of the page.  Do you see them?  Good.  Go ahead and pick the ones you want displayed in your main navigational menu.  Under Menu Settings, select the option for “Theme locations” but leave “Auto add pages” blank.  Then hit “Save Menu.”  Your menu settings should now appear on the front page of your website (location will vary based on theme) and should look similar to this.

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This is the final step in Session Three.  At this point, you should have a fully functional, albeit basic, website.

Congrats!  You have beat the WordPress odds!  Out of all WordPress sign ups, only 4% of users ever actually create an active, working site!  You, my friend, are amazing.

Tune in for Session Four where we will go into greater detail on Posts, Categories, Tabs and other features to transform your Plain Jane site into a Picasso!

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