WordPress is a free content management system that allows you to create and maintain a website. WordPress now powers more than 70 million different websites worldwide.

WordPress Admin Panel

You control almost every aspect of your WordPress site by logging into the “WordPress Admin Panel”. Once you enter your username and password, you enter into the WordPress Admin Panel. This is where you setup up the theme for your site. In the Admin Panel, you can add, remove and configure plugins, post or edit content, and more.

Wordpress dashboard

The WordPress Admin Panel consists of the following sections:

Dashboard

After you login you will be taken to the Dashboard. This screen shows you a basic overview of your site.

Media

This section is your “Media Library”. It will display the images, videos, and other media that you have uploaded to your site. You can also edit, delete, and import images in this section.

Posts

In this section you can add, edit or remove articles or “posts” for your site’s blog.

Pages

In this section you can add, edit or remove pages for your website.

Comments

This section displays any comments posted.

Appearance

In this section, you can add/remove a theme, add your site icon, setup/edit your site menu, and add / remove widgets.

Theme Options Panel

Most themes will come with their own Options Panel to adjust a wide range of settings including colors used, fonts, etc.

Plugins

In this section, you can add/remove plugins.

Users

In this section, you can add, edit and remove users for your website.

WordPress Themes

A “Theme” is the template for your site – a group of files that work together to create the design and functionality of your WordPress site. A theme dictates the way the site is specifically displayed without modifying the actual content.

Themes allow you to customize both the look and functionality of your site. WordPress Themes separate the presentation styles and template files from the system files so the site will upgrade without drastic changes to the visual presentation of the site.

Most people are now using premium themes purchased on sites like Themeforest.  Most of the top-selling themes are developed by a team of developers, and the themes are used by thousands of different websites. These themes allow you to customize almost every aspect of the site’s design including colors, fonts, layouts, and menus.

Themeforest home page

Some of the best themes on Themeforest are:

• Avada
• Uncode
• Salient
• Bridge
• Enfold

Some companies will develop their own custom WordPress theme for their sites. This option is more costly as it involves hiring a web developer to create the theme and update it on an ongoing basis.

Plugins

WordPress has thousands of plugins and widgets that allow you to extend the functionality of your website. There are plugins to add e-commerce functionality to your website, plugins that allow you to build customized layouts, and plugins to add a live chat function to your site making it easier to communicate with your customers.

Drag & Drop Page Builders

Drag and drop page builder plugins like WP Bakery page builder (aka Visual Composer) allows users to build complex customized layouts in WordPress with no knowledge of actual coding. Users can add a wide range of functionality as well including embedding videos from Vimeo or YouTube, creating slideshows, and more. Most of the top premium themes now come with a drag and drop page builder as the basis to creating the layouts for all pages and posts.

WP Bakery page builder

SEO Plugins

SEO Plugins such as Yoast and All-in-One SEO will automatically create XML sitemaps for your website. These plugins also give you the ability to create meta tag titles and descriptions for each page in your site.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce plugin for WordPress. It allows you to easily setup and customize your own e-commerce store.

WooCommerce also offers hundreds of plugins/extensions including plugins for using payment processing gateways such as PayPal, Stripe, Square, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.

Site Performance

It is important to do several things before you launch your site to ensure that it loads quickly for all visitors. For example, you will want to keep the number of plugins you are using to a minimum. You will also want to delete any unused images.

Here is a list of things you can do to improve your site performance:

• Use a good web hosting plan that is optimized for WordPress
• Use a plugin like Smush to compress and optimize your site images
• Limit the number of plugins being used (less than ten total)
• Delete all unused plugins and images
• Use a plugin to minify HTML, JavaScript, and CSS
• Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

User Roles & Permissions

User roles allow site owners/managers to allow for different levels of access in terms of what someone can and cannot do within the site. This allows you to give access to staff or external agencies to post content without giving them access to all of the other areas of the site.

WordPress has six user roles:

• Super Admin
• Administrator
• Editor
• Author
• Contributor
• Subscriber

Administrators

The Super Admin and the Administrator both have access to all administrative features: creating new pages, creating categories, moderating comments, managing plugins, managing themes, and managing other users.

Editors, Authors and Contributors

An Editor can publish posts, edit posts, and manage the posts of other users. An Author can publish, edit and manage their own posts. A Contributor can write, edit and manage their own posts but they cannot publish them.

Subscribers

A subscriber is usually a customer for an online store or a member of a site who can simply manage the information for their own profile. They cannot publish posts.

WordPress Updates

WordPress is a fairly easy content management system to learn and use. However, you will want to make sure to login to your WordPress admin panel on a regular basis to check for newly released updates. It is important that you keep both WordPress and all plugins up-to-date to keep your site running smoothly.