WordPress 101 Part 3: Backend Basics

Wordpress 101 Part 3

Wordpress 101 Part 3After you’ve chosen WordPress.org to manage your site and set up the hosting plan you’ve chosen, your site is live. Some hosts offer a temporary ‘under construction’ message that will display on your site until you are ready and remove it, but for the most part, after setting up hosting and installing wordpress, your site is live – meaning anyone who visits your domain can see it.

If you want to hide your site until your design is ready, you can install a plugin to display an under construction message. Really simple Plugins like underConstruction just offer a very basic message, while plugins like Ultimate Coming Soon Page offer some more options and flexibility. This makes it so that you can edit your site without everyone seeing your unfinished page.

In this tutorial – we will assume that you are not planning on editing the css of your site, and are just going to choose a premade theme and start blogging. So, here are some of the basics that you need to understand to make your site workable and looking good. If you are going to edit your css – you still need to know some of these basics to be able to navigate the back end. PS – the backend is what we call the part of the site that only you can see when you log in. The front end is the site itself that is available to the plugin.

Theme

When you log in to your site for the first time, it will already have some of the basics on it. Pages, posts, comments, menu items – these are all defaults uploaded to your site so that you can see what they look like. It also makes it easier when choosing a theme so that you can see what your content will look like. You can choose a theme and then delete these items, or if you have your own content already, it’s best to delete the defaults, upload your content and then choose a theme so you can see exactly what your content will look like.

To choose a theme go to Appearance > Theme > Add New Theme

There will be some basic themes uploaded to your site already, but you likely don’t want to choose one of those. There are themes that are usually used by designers as a starting point since they are so basic. If you scroll to the bottom of the themes list there will be a box that says “Add New Theme” and if you click that you will be brought to the repository of Worpress themes. You can browse by whats new or popular, or just from A-Z if you want to go through all of them. You can preview the theme live on your site (applied to the content that’s already there) and then install the theme once you find one you like. There are some really beautiful themes here, and you are bound to find one that you can work with. If you want to add your content before choosing your theme, finish this tutorial and then come back to this step last.

Title and Tagline

It’s likely you set these options up when you installed the site initially, but if you didn’t or you want to change them, this is the time. Site title and tagline display at the top of every page above your header (if you choose to display them) and also in the menu bar at the top of the browser. If you look up at the top of this page in the grey bar you will see “WordPress 101 Part 3: Backend Basics – The White Corner Creative”. This is “Post title – Site Title” So whatever you set as your site title will display here after your post title.

To set your title and tagline go to Settings > General

Your tagline is what will display on your home page in this area “Site Title – Tagline”, like if you go to my homepage you see “The White Corner Creative – Designing a beautiful life”.

Landing page

A landing page is where people land when they type in your URL. If you type in www.thecraftyfrugaler.com you land on a list of my most recent blog posts, because this is what I have chosen to display. On WordPress you can choose to make your landing page a static page (which stays the same all the time) or a fluid page (like a list of your most recent blog posts). By default, WordPress displays your most recent blog posts on your landing page, like mine. If you want to set a static page as the landing page, you first need to create this page (in pages).

To choose a static page go to Settings > Reading > Front Page Displays.

Site Identity

This area is where you want to put in your logo and the name and tagline of your site. You can also choose whether or not to display the name and tagline. With most logo designs it’s usually unnecessary since your logo should include the name of your site. Even if you choose not to display the name and tagline, you should still put them in so that they can be found by any robots or crawlers that are looking for information about your site.

To add a logo go to Appearance > Site Identity > Logo

Header

Your header image is the first thing that people see when they land on your site. It should be attractive, simple, and convey a little something about your site. Depending on what you want to do with your site, you might decide not to use a header image. While many blogs use one, most businesses do not.

To add a header go to Appearance > Header > Header Image > Add New Image

Depending on what theme you’re using, this section will tell you what size your image should be. You can crop your image to this size before hand, or once you’ve uploaded it to your site.

Posts and Pages

Pages are static – they stay the same all the time. Pages contain important information that you want all your readers to have access to all the time. The most basic pages on a blog are “About Me” and “Contact Me”, and are accessible through the menu at the top of your site.

Posts are also static – they stay the same all the time, but they are more fluid then pages, since there are more of them. Posts are what change every time you visit a site. When you come to my blog every few days there will be a new post at the top of my list, but there will always be the same pages in the menu. Posts are accessible through categories like ‘DIY’ or just by browsing through the recent posts list.

When you look at a normal website that does not have a blog – all their content is likely pages. On a blog, most of the content is likely posts, with a few static pages.

When you first set up your site, you want to add pages like About Me and Contact Me, and then add your posts as you go, when you have content that you want to share.

To add a post go to Posts > Add New.
To add a page go to Pages > Add New.

Alternatively you can also hover over the +New option in the black bar at the top of your page and select whether you want to add a post or page.

Menu

The menu is a huge part of your site, because it allows a user to easily navigate throughout your entire blog. On your menu you should have links to your most important pages, like about and contact info, and also links to your most popular categories. In my menu I have links to categories – Tips and Tricks, Save, Frugal DIYs and Freebies, and to my About and Contact Pages. I also have a link to Freelance, which is a separate portion of my site.

To configure your menu go to Appearance > Menus > Edit Menus.

Once here, you want to create a new menu and drag all the links you want included into it. Give the menu a name and save it. Then go to ‘Manage Locations’ and make your ‘Primary Menu’ the menu you just created. This is only necessary because some menus are enabled to have multiple menus in different locations, so you have to set your menu to be in the primary location (at the top under your header image). You can read more about how to configure your Menus here with WordPress 101 Part 6: How to Create & Use Menus.

Widgets

Last, but not least, widgets are a vital part of your blog. Widgets are what show up in your sidebar or footer, depending on where your theme has them configured. Widgets can be as simple as just text or get complex with lists of popular posts, images, buttons, and much more.

To add widgets go to Appearance > Widgets and drag widgets into the bar on the right.

Widgets will stay consistent throughout your entire site and should typically display a little information about your blog, and then links to lead readers to other posts they might be interested in. You can also get widgets to add social networks to your blog, to get readers to follow you.

After you’ve chosen a theme, configured your header, title, tagline, landing page, and added posts, pages and widgets, you’re site is set up in its most basic form. There are tonnes of customizations you can continue to make, but at this point your site is up and running and can look complete and attractive to readers.

11 thoughts on “WordPress 101 Part 3: Backend Basics”

  1. I am having a hard time deleting the logo that we started with and then starting over. The original won’t go away, cannot find a delete button.

    1. Hi Melanie, you can upload your logo as a header, or as a logo under the Appearance > Site Identity. If you do so under site identity, below the logo that is there, there should be two buttons. One that says remove, and one that says change logo. If you do so under Header Image there should be a button that says remove image. What options are you seeing?

  2. I was struggling so much setting up category pages to put my posts under and this answered it so simply! The term “pages” was so misleading to me.

  3. Hi Melissa, This has been so helpful for me. Thank you for speaking in a language that non-techies like me can understand. I just set up my blog to my liking, thanks to your tutorial, and I actually knew what I was doing.

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