WordPress Quick Reference Guide
Congratulations on your new website. If you were referred to this guide, your new website is likely running on WordPress, a popular blogging platform and when tuned correctly, a powerful content management system.
With WordPress you have great control over your content. That control comes at a small cost, and part of your new responsibility in managing your WordPress installation is becoming familiar with the platform, and how to maintain your website.
The following is a basic guide to help you with your new WordPress installation. This guide is not exhaustive, and should only be used as a quick reference.
Note: This guide does not constitute a support relationship and by using this guide you agree not to hold PxO Ink LLC responsible for informational accuracy or your use of this guide.
WordPress can seem daunting, but learning the platform is an intuitive experience. There are expansive guides available, but we recommend reviewing the following:
Note: If you find that you're struggling with a particular area in the WordPress admin panel, otherwise known as the back-end, look toward the upper right-hand corner. You will usually find a "Help" tab, which will provides contextual instructions on how to use that particular feature or resource.
If you have agreed to a support or maintenance contract, or you wish to explore that option, you can contact PxO Ink for help at any time.
Table of Contents
Please review the login information that you have already been provided. It is strongly recommended that you change your password as soon as you login for the first time. If you need help selecting a password, you can generate a password here.
Within the WordPress admin there is a main vertical menu that provides granular access to your WordPress install. Not all features are listed within this guide, and some might have been customized for your particular install. Please review all of the resources and controls at your disposal, the help files on each page, this document, and the official documentation before making changes.
Within the Dashboard submenu, you will have access to all of the pending WordPress updates that are available. You must keep your WordPress installation updated to ensure the security of your website. Nevertheless, before you can consider any updates, you should know which kind of WordPress installation you have:
Package-Based Repository Installation
Package-based repository installations are often provided to organizations that require extensive testing before new versions can be deployed. If you have been delivered a package-based repository installation, you will need to have your WordPress installation upgraded by a qualified systems administrator.
If you weren't told what kind of installation was deployed, or if you're using shared hosting, you likely have a base installation. With this kind of installation, you have immediate access to update your WordPress install. In this case, you can manage all WordPress updates through the Updates sub-menu. Simply select what you want to update, and follow the prompts on screen.
It is very important that you backup your WordPress installation before updating any software. If you do not have any WordPress backup plugins, please consider the official WordPress backup documentation.
Note: If you are using the UpdraftPlus plugin to manage your backups, you may already be automatically backing up your WordPress install. You should check if you have a recent backup, and consider the UpdraftPlus help menu before continuing.
Updating to WordPress 5.0
With the arrival of WordPress version 5.0, major changes have occurred to the WordPress ecosystem and design. Please understand that before you upgrade to WordPress 5.0, you should do an extensive backup of your existing system, and employ a separate development environment to test your website on 5.0.
You may need to install additional plugins, such as the classic editor, or update your plugins to ensure that your website is operating correctly. You may even need to modify your theme, depending upon the customization. Please read the official blog post on WordPress 5.0 to learn more about this major version.
Posts, Categories, and Tags
The Posts area contains all of your blog posts. You can create new posts, make changes to existing posts, or review all of the posts on your website. Before you begin creating posts, it's important to understand how posts are consumed by users.
Each post that you create is designed to convey a message that will hopefully lead to a call-to-action response. That could mean contacting you directly for services, purchasing a product, or simply reading long-term. This message is augmented by a group of keywords and a taxonomy relationship.
In WordPress, you can create taxonomies by creating categories and tags and assigning posts to those elements. This helps you relate your content to your users. Remember, users are often looking for particular content, and they can find that content and related information through categories and tags.
To begin, review your categories and tags by selecting the Categories and Tags sub-menu. At the very least, you should have created a default category before writing your posts. You can modify categories and tags at any time.
Before you write your blog post, try to think of a few keywords that can be associated with this particular post. That will help you focus the content, create the post's title, and title the associated imagery.
Speaking of associated imagery, it's important to find imagery that accentuates your blog post. You must own or have permission to use the images that you choose.
Once you have written your blog post in your favorite third-party word processor, you can then select Add Post from within WordPress. Here, you'll fill out the title, confirm the slug, otherwise known as the path, add and select media, set the publish date, associate categories and tags, select a featured image, and fill out the excerpt if applicable.
Note: If part of your website deliverable contains a custom post plugin, you may see additional post types visible in the vertical menu, such as Events, or Products. You may also see additional options on the Add New page, such as a scheduled date or time. If you have questions about a particular customization, feel free to ask.
Once a post has been written, you can edit or delete that post by selecting an option from the Posts page. You may need to hover or select the post in the list to view the options available to you.
WordPress has support for images, video, and audio media uploads. The media library contains all of the content that is uploaded to your website. You may see duplicate content if you're using a plugin like Polylang, which has support for different languages. Some imagery is theme dependent, and will not be visible in the media library.
When adding imagery, be sure that the image that you start with is already cropped and compressed. This isn't entirely necessary, but it's a good habit to keep. WordPress has its own basic image editor and compression, which you may use, but it's important to start with a solid foundation.
The dimensions of an image, the width and height in pixels, are usually directly related to the file size. If images are too large in file size, they will be difficult or costly for users to download. Too small in dimensions, and they will be difficult to see or fail to provide the proper visual association.
In general, a good size for a featured image is greater or equal to 1280-1600 pixels in width, and a height no taller than 65% of the width. Themes that support image scaling will automatically create a selection of images and often select the best image available depending upon the browser.
As mentioned before, you also have the option of editing your images directly in WordPress. A good rule of thumb is to use this tool for featured images, and scale them to no less than 1280 pixels in width. WordPress will automatically calculate the height. Once you save the image, it will confirm your changes and generate thumbnails.
If supported by your host (you will need the GD library for PHP,) you can also crop the image from this prompt.
Note: If you're using the Polylang plugin, you may find that uploading images within each post is a more appropriate method due to the language translations per image. If you're using the WordPress editor, you will need to download your altered image using the Save Target As menu option and re-upload it for alternate languages.
Once the image is successfully uploaded, you will need to fill out the details for that image. This includes a title, and alternate text, also known as Alt text. The title represents how you associate the primary keywords of your post to the imagery. For a featured image, this likely expands on the tagline for your post or rewords it. The alt text is how you would describe the image for those who are visually impaired or unable to view the image. You may also write a caption and a description for your image.
If you're not sure how to detail your images, feel free to contact PxO Ink, and we can provide an SEO package that will meet your needs.
The Pages section represents all of the static content that your website has to offer. Your website has been delivered with a handful of pages already completed, but you can edit and create new pages from this area.
Creating pages is very similar to creating posts, but the most important difference is that when it comes to taxonomy, this is handled through page hierarchy. This means that if a page is directly related to another page, you will assign one of those pages as a parent to the other page, and you will assign an order to that page if applicable.
You may also assign a page template to a page, if your theme supports multiple templates.
If comments are enabled for your website, this section is where you will manage them. You have the options of approving or editing comments, trashing them, or specifying them as spam. When paired with a plugin like Akismet, these features become more robust.
You can select which theme your website uses in the appearance section, as well as widgets, menus, backgrounds, logos, favicon, and other options based upon what your theme supports, and what customizations have been made.
Widgets generally appear on each page except the home page. They are usually most important on blog related pages. Different plugins can change which widgets are available in WordPress.
If properly setup within your theme, the Menus section provides granular access to all of the menus that are available within your website. A theme will likely support various Menu Locations, which you can assign in the Manage Locations tab. You can also specify which menu to edit, as well as the order in which menus appear.
Note: There are also advanced menu options available when enabled with Screen Options. Unless you have specific instructions, it's best to leave these alone.
Plugins allow you to customize your website further. Be warned that only trusted plugins which are fully supported and optimized should be installed on your website.
Plugin developers often have their own support team, discussions, and documentation available. Nevertheless, there are some configurations that you can make, or some maintenance that you must perform in order to maintain the continued use of plugins.
Note: Plugins may have their own menus that allow you to control them. If a plugin doesn't have its own menu, it will likely appear in the settings submenu. Keep an eye out for options for individual plugins you may wish to change. You can also find more information by looking at the Plugin on the Installed Plugins page.
If your website relies on Polylang, you may wish to modify the Strings Translations submenu, as various areas in your theme may rely on these translations.
When using Relevanssi, you may need to re-index your search results at certain intervals. It's recommended that you test your search engine often.
If you are using the UpdraftPlus plugin, it's important that you monitor the status of your backups to ensure that they are being completed correctly.
When you receive access to your website, your account will likely be an administrator's account. This gives you the power to control every aspect of your website. In the Users section, you can create and delete users, as well as modify and change their permissions. You can also modify your profile, avatar, and other details here.
Your website already comes pre-configured when ownership is transferred. Nevertheless, the General, Writing, and Reading sub-menus allow you to customize various default settings for your website. The official WordPress documentation can help explain more about what these features do. Changing these settings is not recommended.
The Discussion settings allow you to change how comments are handled and whether they appear at all. In some remote cases, your theme may not support comments.
The Permalinks section will allow you to refresh the rules for how URLs are generated for users. It is generally not recommended to change these once established, as it may cause your SEO performance to drop unexpectedly.