Wordpress FAQ for Beginners

I’ve spoken to a variety of people, mostly offline, that ask about what I do, and I inform them that I’m a Wordpress Modifier and Developer (although not exclusively). This is usually followed by a couple of blank stares, with them not knowing what in the world Wordpress is.

Because of the confusion about what WP is and can do for potential website owners and operators, I’ve decided to write a Wordpress FAQ that is aimed towards non-technical and non internet-oriented people (also known as the majority of people on Earth).

Why would I want to use Wordpress? What does it do?

Wordpress is what’s known as an a Blog Publishing Application and / or Content Management System. Basically what this means is that you can use it to publish and organize your content onto the web.

Content can include anything your heart desires. Say you have a few articles about puppies and you want to show off your content. Using Wordpress’ posting system, you can easily put them online. Or say you wrote a music piece and want to share it with the world, you can create a post and insert the audio file right into the blurb about the file.

The possibilities are limitless.

Do I need any special tools to install and run WP?

Well, you have two options here. You could register an account over at wordpress.com and start publishing your content right away for free. However, using a WP.com account is very limited in your options, which is why I strongly recommend choice two.

The second choice (and the highly preferable option), is to download their software and place it on your own web space. With your own Wordpress site, you have unlimited freedom of how you want to use it and you have many more options available to you (more themes, plugins to choose from, etc.). To do this, you will need the following:

  • A Domain Name. This is the unique name identifier of your website, usually ending with a .com, for example this site’s domain name is wordpressmountain.com. Domains usually only cost around $9 a year and are easy to register. Godaddy is an example of a domain registrar company where you can purchase and search for available domain names.
  • A Web Host Account. This is for where all your web pages and files are stored for the public to access them. Wordpress Mountain is hosted through Hostgator and has never encountered any speed, memory, or any other type of critical hosting issues with them.

To make things clearer to understand, try comparing web administration to the real estate market. In this instance, your domain name would be your home street address, and your web hosting account would be the land upon which your home is built. And Wordpress would be the material that is used in building the foundation, architecture, etc. of the new home.

How much does it cost to use Wordpress?

Absolutely nothing. It’s free of charge.

I heard you mention Wordpress Themes and Plugins. What are they good for?

Wordpress Themes are basically web site templates that will allow you to apply various styles to your blog. Some themes have a darker-colored focus, other ones have two sidebars, and even more have large footers at the bottom. Different themes offer all kinds of different options and you can choose the one that suits your needs the best.

Wordpress Plugins allow various functionality to your blog. Say for example you want to track your website’s stats. Well, since WP does not do this out-of-the -box, you can download and install the WP Stats plugin, and give your blog that additional extra admin feature.

There’s thousands of free styles and scripts out there you can choose from, and a good place to start would be at the Wordpress.org Directory.

Themes and Plugins are the backbone of the WP development community. The majority are open source and free to use, although other, more exclusive premium services may require you to pay for use or require you give credit to the creator (such as a footer hyperlink), however this shouldn’t hold back any reasons to not use them, if they are right for the project.

Is it possible to change the appearance of a page?

Yes, you can edit your themes manually through the admin panel’s theme editor (where can manually hack the code), or you could install a WP template. Using the template system allows you to make slight theme modifications to a page that you might not want elsewhere.

However, installing a WP template requires PHP (a web scripting language) knowledge and a good understanding of the WP loop (how WP handles displaying information, in a technical sense).

Do I need to know about any Web Technologies such as HTML or PHP?

Immediately? No, you don’t need to have an understanding of either Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) or Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) to publish your content on the web.

However, if you wish to customize the specific look of your site and explore Wordpress’ full potential then I’d say you should definitely learn HTML basics and later get an understanding of how PHP is used in Wordpress. PHP is definitely not something you should tackle immediately until earning some general programming knowledge.

Wordpress is Database-Driven. This is the key difference between say WP and a piece of Web Page Editing Software like Dreamweaver. Everything is managed from the web server, meaning you can access your site from any computer in the world that is connected to the internet. Dreamweaver is run locally on your home machine, and while you may create a template or two using the software, you’d have to create an individual HTML file for every single page you want displayed on your online site, whereas WP stores the data inside a MySQL Database.

This is not absolutely necessary though because that is why freelancers such as myself exist, to help you achieve the look you want for your website without having to know the nitty-gritty details of the code involved.

How does WP handle multimedia applications like video or pictures?

Wordpress can offer a multitude of multimedia features, including but definitely not limited to:

  • Images
  • Video
  • Audio (mainly through Podcasting and MP3 files)

There are a few ways multimedia objects can be handled, it’s the owner’s preference on how they wish to organize their files.

Usually, the files are stored on the same account where your blog is installed, inside the wp-content folder, however linking to external images and videos is rarely an issue (as long as you follow the copyright guidelines).

Can I edit pre-existing pages?

Yes, it’s shouldn’t be a problem. All blog owners have an edit option once they’re logged in.

So how do I install this Wonderful Application and start using it today?

After you have registered a domain name and set up your web hosting space, just head on over to WP.org’s downloads page to get the package and then follow their famous 5-minute install instructions.

Anything Else?

Not much else to say. However if you have any other basic questions this FAQ may have missed, feel free to register with the forums ask any question about Wordpress you desire to.

Leave a Reply