Roundpeg spends weeks with our clients planning, designing and building websites. We also do an hour of training with each client before a website is launched. There are hours of WordPress training videos online. How do we choose what to teach in just 60 minutes?
Our training is focused on preparing you to publish your own posts and maintain your own WordPress site from day one. That means logging in, learning the Dashboard and interface buttons and walking through the basics of publishing blog posts. Here’s what we do and why we do each one.
Login and Check the Dashboard
Most of our clients are new to WordPress. Whether the website project is a simple landing page or a deep, feature-rich web destination, we start by visiting the login page. Seems like a no-brainer, but finding this page for a self-hosted WordPress site isn’t so easy.
The best way to find your WordPress website’s login page is to add /login or/wp-admin to the end of your web address. You should see a screen like the one in the screenshot below.
There’s a big WordPress logo (some developers replace it with your business logo) and fields for username and password. Once you click Log In, the next destination is the Dashboard. Depending on your web designer’s choice of plugins and how they’ve organized the modules for you, your Dashboard contains a summary of the activity on your site. Everything from visitor traffic reports to how many pages and posts you have. Kinda boring actually.
What the Dashboard is actually good for is being a safe zone. Find yourself lost on some other settings page? Want to go back to the beginning? Go back to the Dashboard. And while you’re there, check to see if you have any updates available.
How to Find Your WordPress Login URL via WPMU Dev
The WordPress Dashboard (video tutorial) via WP101
Run WordPress Updates
It’s a little weird to realize, but websites are really just software programs running on someone else’s computer. Sometimes these programs get out of date and need to be updated.
WordPress is the software used as your website’s operating system. Plugins and themes are apps installed on your system. You need to have the latest and greatest system and apps or else your site is easy prey for hackers.
We show clients how to update plugins on their own and recommend a regular maintenance schedule. Basically, login in once a week just to check. It takes two seconds and if your web developer was smart, there’s nothing you should be afraid to update.
A Guide to Updating WordPress, Plugins and Themes via SitePoint
Add New Post
Once we finish with maintenance, it’s time for the fun stuff. What’s great about WordPress is that the skills and comfort-level training on one thing often applies to other aspects. For example, going through adding a new blog post for the first time prepares you to edit pages and creates familiarity with basic interface elements.
Creating a WordPress Post via iThemes
Add Title and Author
The first thing we talk about on the Add New Post screen is how to add a title. Working on a blog post in WordPress is a little like filling out a form online. The top of the screen has a field pre-filled with the text “Enter title here”. Once you click into this field, that text appears and you can type whatever you’d like for the title.
As you think of your blog post’s title, go for something straightforward that immediately communicates the topic of your post and the benefit visitors get from reading it. Make sure your title capitalization is on point. Use titlecapitalization.com to automatically capitalize the right words.
Next, make sure the right author name is selected. The Author module let’s you choose which user account is displayed as the author. It’s now always visible though, so first click the Screen Options tab at the very top right of the screen. This pulls down a drawer of checkboxes. Make sure Author has a check to display it. Then go to the module and choose the user who should be credited for the post.
Paste as Plain Text and Save
Clients always ask, “Do I have write everything in WordPress?” Well, you could. I like to. I like the way WordPress looks and functions as a workspace. It works for me. But you don’t have to do your whole writing process in the Add New Post screen.
Feel free to write in whatever word processor you like, Microsoft Word, Notepad, even Pages. Or roll like Harriet the Spy and write longhand in a composition notebook. Just do you. But know when you copy and paste your typed text into WordPress, you’ve got to take special precautions.
WordPress and those other programs don’t use the same style programming. Imagine copying from Pages and pasting into Word. You wouldn’t expect fancy headings to paste in right. Same with WordPress.
So, don’t bother with styling if you’re writing first in another program. Keep it plain. And when you get to WordPress, hit the Paste as Text icon in the formatting toolbar to have WordPress wipe out any styling it doesn’t accept. It’s in the second row and looks like a clipboard with a capital “T”. Then add those heading styles, lists and bullets how you’d like.
Visual Editor – Pasting Text via WordPress.com Support
No blog post is complete without images. Depending on your industry and audience, they can be just as important as the text. Images illustrate complex details, show off your finished designs, and tell stories all on their own. WordPress is built to make adding images easy for anyone. You could probably figure it all out your own. But there’s a few special features in WordPress I don’t want our clients to miss.
We show clients how to upload brand new images and how to select previously uploaded images from the WordPress media library. The media library makes it easy to reuse images from the past. While we’re training on images, I have to point out title and alternate text, image alignment and the Custom URL option. These important functions are tucked away in a corner of the Add Media screen, so they’re easy to miss.
Set Alt Text and Title for Images in WordPress via Roundpeg
5 Steps to Perfect Blog Post Images via Roundpeg
Choose Category and Tags
We’re about 40 minutes into the hour of training. Here’s where I pull my Steve Jobs and go “One more thing…” Let’s talk about categories and tags.
These terms sound close in meaning to start with. And the popularity of social media hashtags creates confusion around the word tag. So, I explain the difference with this story.
Imagine a website devoted to North American sports leagues. Blog posts cover everything from MLB to MLS. This website gives each blog post a category corresponding to the sports league the post covers. Then, the site might add tags for specific things like team names, player names, event names, etc.
You always need to organize posts with categories to help you and your readers find stories related to the same big buckets of info. I give my own blog posts no more than three categories. Tags let you organize by more specific terms to add loose relationships between your posts. You can add as many of those as you want, but 10 tags is more than enough. Most basic blogs don’t utilize the advanced filters that make tags useful (think Amazon’s shopping sidebar). But they’re good to have if you ever add that.
Categories vs Tags via WPBeginner
Publish and Schedule
Right, we made it to the end of training! Time to talk about publishing. The Publish module is where you’ll find options to preview the final look, save your work as a draft post you can come back to and a big blue Publish button. You’ll also find the option to Schedule your post.
This is one of my favorite features in WordPress. With Schedule, you can set a time and day in the future for your post to automatically publish. That way you can build up a schedule of posts to publish at set times without lifting a finger.
When you set a scheduled publish time, the text on the Publish button changes to Schedule. Click this button, finish up and publish or schedule your post.
At the end of training, I want every client to feel comfortable logging in, running their own software updates and publishing blog posts. I also want clients to have a thousand more questions. Questions show you’re invested in your website’s success. Questions show you want to grow with your website. What questions do you have?