Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Class 8 - May 24, 2017

It's time to start our Wordpress sites.

Here's the basic gist of what we are going to be doing the rest of the semester in Wordpress:

  1. Install the Wordpress content management system on your website. 
  2. Create content (posts and pages) and build out your website.
  3. Pick a Wordpress theme that best fits the content you will be creating for your blog.
  4. Make some minor changes to that theme using CSS or the theme's options (or appearance-customize in your Wordpress menu).
  5. Install plugins to add functionality to your website.
  6. Use widgets to create more content on your site.
  7. Track and report on traffic to your site using Google Analytics.
1. Your first step is to install Wordpress, which you can do through the Reclaim Hosting control panel (You should have an email from Reclaim Hosting with the subject line "New account information" - this includes a link to your secure control panel).

Here are the instructions on how to install Wordpress via Reclaim Hosting. Make sure you write down your username and password. For the domain, I recommend using the https:// version of your website.

Once it's installed, click on the administration URL. Put in the username and password you just created  (and bookmark this page - this is how you will always access Wordpress - never through wordpress.com).

It's important that you don't press the back button when you are installing files. That will create problems. Just pretend you don't have a back button for the rest of the semester and you will be fine.

If you are brand new to Wordpress, read this introduction to the Wordpress Dashboard to get an understanding of how it works or watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OBfr46Y0cQ

2. The introduction you just read/watched discusses Wordpress posts and pages. Posts are generally blog entries or articles - something usually tied to a date. Pages are more static content - things like your About Me page and your Resume page.

Wordpress sets up a sample post and a sample page for you. Delete those and create your own first post and first page. Then pay attention to how your current Wordpress theme displays them. Pages go into the top navigation of the home page, and posts go on the home page itself. When you install a different theme in step 3, your posts and pages might be handled differently.

3. Now let's look for a new theme for your site. Read this introduction to Wordpress themes and info on how to install theme and then choose and install a new theme.

Here's a video that shows how to do so (it also talks about plugins, which we will get into more later):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao9od9YavEA

You can install as many themes as you want and preview them to decide exactly what theme you want on your site.

You can do a Google search to find free Wordpress themes. Or here are some that students used in recent semesters that I really liked: EightiesKleanArcade basicPinnacleSelaMake.


4. You may like your theme, but not everything about your theme. Luckily, we can edit themes. Some themes will give you simple instructions for changing logos and colors (usually found in the left-column of your Wordpress dashboard and labeled something like "theme options"). Many themes from the past few years allow you to go to Appearance > Customize to easily make some changes to your site.

Others will require you to go into the Appearance menu in the Wordpress dashboard and into the editor.

You'll see a lot of files there to edit, mostly written in PHP, which we are not familiar with. Here's the anatomy of a Wordpress theme to give you an idea what you are looking at. We will try to stick to making changes in the styles.css file (bottom right of your Appearance and Editor dashboard page). This will allow you to make basic changes such as colors and fonts.

The code in the style.css file should be something you recognize, since we've learned CSS. But it's a little more complicated than that, since there is a lot of code. Take a look, but don't worry if you don't feel comfortable changing anything here. Going to Appearance > Customize will allow you to make some changes without going into the code (NOTE: you don't have to make any changes to the appearance of your theme).


Assignments

Your assignments are to keep plugging away on the the assignments on this page and get working on your Wordpress sites. You'll need at least four posts and four pages on your site before the end of the class.

Soon, I will give you info about plugins and widgets in Wordpress. You'll install Google Analytics as a part of that. After Google Analytics is installed, you're going to need to drive some traffic to your site. So the more posts and pages you get live this week, the better.

This means you have all of the assignments for the semester. The only thing you don't have is the SEO quiz. You'll get that next week after I cover SEO.

Please, please, please ... if there is something you are not understanding related to this class, ask me. The web is filled with resources to help you understand these things. I can point you to the best ones, or we can set up a time to discuss things in person or on the phone.

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