Helping a New User to Understand WordPress

WordPress Learning Basics
New User

As a WordPress tutorial writer I try my best to look at the software from a new user’s perspective. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember all the little details I’ve learned about using the platform through the years and that I now take for granted as “second nature knowledge”.

I received a series of questions the other day from someone building their first WordPress site. I wanted to share them with you because I think they serve as great examples of the kinds of issues a new WordPress user can run into and also because you might benefit from my answers.

If you have you’re own advice to add regarding any of these questions, please share your knowledge in the comment section.

Problem:

When I type in word or in the admin page itself, what is shown differs from what the actual is once posted. This causes spacing, indenting and wrapping that is not appealing on the end product.

This is intended behavior. The size of the content area you have available on the frontend is applied directly from whatever theme you have installed. Different themes have diff. content widths, some may be 550px wide, others may be 640px wide. Your content will expand to fit whatever content width your theme has.

Solution One: Use the “Preview” button when writing your posts. This will open a new tab in your browser showing you a preview of your post. This is an easy way to judge how your text will wrap in the content area of your theme.

Solution Two: In this latest version of WP, they introduced the ability to apply CSS styles to the editor itself. This is handy in your situation because you can make the width of the editor MATCH the width of your theme….this way the formatting you see when editing should match when published. See the two links below (one by me back in June)

https://adamwwarner.com/why-your-visual-editor-width-is-different-in-wordpress-3-0-838.html

http://www.jleuze.com/add-a-themes-css-style-to-the-visual-editor/

Question:

How do you get text “not” to wrap, post as created or expand space within a page to allow for fit?

See above for matching text formatting. Auto expanding the editor or theme to fit your content isn’t possible if I understand your question, however, you might consider looking into how to create a “full width” page template for the theme you’re using (or it might already have one). This uses the full width of your page for content on a per page basis. It essentially removes the sidebar on specified pages. See examples here:

(with normal content/sidebar) https://adamwwarner.com/tutorials/how-to-put-your-wordpress-site-into-maintenance-mode-and-why-you-would-want-to

(with “full width” applied = no sidebar) https://adamwwarner.com/learning-center/wordpress-building-website-courses

Problem:

The content within the pages need help with presentation. To make more attractive, I used tables in word to apply different colors and boxes before cutting and pasting. The end product however does not appear in my post.

Do not use Word to apply any styling, period. In fact, to make your life easier in web publishing, I urge you to strongly consider changing your workflow to exclude Word. In short, Word is a word processor for creating documents, not for creating HTML for use on the web (although it claims to have this ability). The problem your seeing is that Word adds all kinds of styling code that is specific to the Word software program and NOT valid HTML. When you plop that into an HTML editor (as the WP visual editor is), those Word-specific styles get ignored and you get what you’re seeing now.

Some solutions:

1. In the WP editor visual mode, look for a button that has a yellow folder and blue W (Word icon). This allows you to paste text from a Word doc and WP will attempt to remove all Word-specific coding.

2. Paste your Word text into a plain text editor first, then into WP editor (this removes the offending Word-specific code).

3. Write your content directly in WP instead, or use a plain text editor to write content and then apply your styling later in WP

Question:

Are there tricks for creating boxes and color backgrounds within a pre-made template to allow for better content presentation?

Yes there are. If you know a little HTML you can surrounding anything with a colored box. If you don’t know the HTML to do this, there is at least one plugin I know of that can help named Utility Shortcodes: http://demo.pippinspages.com/wp-utility-shortcodes/

You could also create tables (in HTML not in Word) either by hand or with the help of a plugin. You would still need to know some HTML and CSS to style them with BG colors, etc. You can see an example of my use of a table on a full width page here:

https://adamwwarner.com/learning-center/wordpress-building-website-courses

Problem:

When looking at my website, there are two home pages at the top menu however in the Dashboard, there is only one.

It look like you have either your WP page settings wrong or the theme is automatically inserting an extra “home” tab that needs to be removed. If you give me login info I can check on this…should be an easy and quick fix.

Question:

How do I remove a duplicate page in a pre-created template?

Not 100% sure what you mean….

Problem:

I would like to add a sidebar of industry related feeds and linked in blog discussions within my site but do not know how to accomplish this.

You would add the RSS feed of whatever sites you want to the RSS widget. That said, I just checked Linkedin discussion quickly and don’t see that they provide RSS feeds….maybe there’s a plugin for this or some other hack to get Linkedin discussions feeds. Would need more research.

Question:

How do I create the sidebar and insert the feeds?

In the backend Appearance–>Widgets–>RSS

Question:

Can you pull over discussions from other blogs within linked in which requires a password for accessing? (These are currently coming to my email)

Not sure about this one…

Problem:

Being a beginner, I have very little knowledge of how to use tags, etc for SEO and would like to pull customers to my site. My template however does provide for a plugin.

We should talk further in person, it’s too big of a subject to cover here. There are some fundamental “best practices” to always start with though.

Question:

What tips can be provided to maximize SEO along with instructions for establishing within my site.

Again, huge subject, more later….

Sidenote: That image above is my baby girl:)

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