WordPress for Beginners

While WordPress is known for being a fairly user-friendly platform, there’s still a lot to learn when it comes to WordPress for beginners.

That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 20 of the most frequently asked questions about WordPress. Once you understand these concepts, you can confidently jump into WordPress with both feet and take on your new project.

Below, you’ll find short answers and additional resources to help guide you through your entry into the world of WordPress. Hang on tight – here we go!

WordPress for beginners: 20 questions answered

1. What is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system (CMS). It’s a platform that enables you to create, edit, maintain, and share content such as written posts, images, and other media on the Internet:

The WordPress homepage.

This is what makes it an excellent tool for creating blogs and other websites. In fact, WordPress powers over one-third of all sites on the web.

2. What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

The differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org are one of the things that’s most confusing when it comes to WordPress for beginners.

Figuring out which is right for you can definitely be a challenge if you aren’t familiar with the pros and cons of each.

In short, WordPress.com is more akin to a website builder site such as Squarespace or Wix. On the other hand, WordPress.org – also known as self-hosted WordPress – requires you to find your own hosting solution, but gives you complete control over your site.

3. Can I build a WordPress website for free?

The answer is yes and no. You can build a WordPress.com site for free, but it will be branded and you’ll have fewer options in the way of customization:

The WordPress.com pricing table.

Self-hosted WordPress is always free to download, but you’ll have to pay for a few elements in order to use it, such as web hosting, a domain, and more.

There are also many plugins and themes available for use with WordPress. While there are plenty of high-quality free options, there are also premium products you can purchase if you choose. In short, WordPress is as expensive as you decide to make it.

4. What does ‘open-source’ mean?

If you’ve done any poking around WordPress.org, you may have come across the term open-source. This means WordPress’ source code – i.e. the nuts and bolts of code – is developed by a community, some of which are volunteers. It also means that the core WordPress software is 100% free.

There are several requirements a platform must meet in order to be considered open-source. It’s an interesting topic you could benefit from reading up on, but ultimately WordPress’ open-source nature doesn’t affect most people.

5. Can I build a WordPress website on my own?

WordPress is designed to be user-friendly, even to those with absolutely no web development or coding experience. There’s no reason why you can’t create a high-quality and professional-looking site using the right combination of a theme and plugins.

Even so, there are also many WordPress developers you can hire to build more complex custom features if you feel you need them.

6. What are a domain name and web hosting, and do I need them to use WordPress?

Your domain name is your website’s address – for example, our domain name is themeisle.com. Web hosting is basically space on a computer server that you rent to power your site and make it available to visitors from around the world.

If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, you’ll have to acquire both a domain name and a web hosting account. These can run as low as $10 per year and $3 per month, respectively, or easily soar to rates of hundreds per month.

7. What’s the difference between plugins and themes?

These two components are both vital, but very different. A plugin adds some kind of functionality to your WordPress installation, such as security scanning or spam prevention:

Examples from the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Themes, on the other hand, control how your site looks. Some more complex themes may also incorporate special functionality, but generally, they’re concerned with aspects such as layout and style.

8. How do I install plugins and themes?

There are a few different ways to install a plugin or theme. Both take place in the admin dashboard of your site.

You can navigate to the plugin or theme directory in your dashboard to search for, install, and activate one. Alternatively, you can also upload them to your site, which is the usual method for installing premium products.

9. Is WordPress safe/secure?

If you follow WordPress security best practices, the platform is as secure as any other. However, if you neglect your site it will quickly become more susceptible to cyber attacks.

There are several plugins, services, and other tools you can use to make your site more secure. It’s also key to always keep your installation, plugins, and theme up-to-date.

10. What are categories and tags, and do I have to use them?

Categories and tags are ways of classifying content in WordPress – ‘taxonomies.’ While they’re not a requirement, they have plenty of uses:

The Categories and Tags areas in the WordPress editor.

By keeping your site organized, categories and tags help users and search engines find information on your site. You’ll be able to rank higher on results pages and provide better user experience by incorporating them.

11. Isn’t WordPress only for blogging?

While WordPress started out as a blogging platform, it has become much more versatile since its early days. Through the use of plugins and tailored themes, people now use WordPress to create many types of sites.

With the right tools, you can easily turn your WordPress installation into an online store, portfolio, business site, or something else entirely.

For example, WordPress is actually the most popular way to build an eCommerce store – even more popular than Shopify!

12. How do I maintain my WordPress site?

A lot goes into maintaining any kind of website. You’ll need to back it up, update it, monitor its security, and dozens of other tasks. Fortunately, you can automate many of them in WordPress. There are also services that can maintain your site for you, although they’re not an obligatory purchase.

13. How do I configure my WordPress settings?

You can access your settings in your dashboard sidebar. They’re broken down into seven sections: General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, Permalinks, and Privacy:

The WordPress General settings page.

The default settings work well enough for many sites. However, if you need to make changes, you’ll find lots of guidance in our post on the topic.

14. What’s the difference between posts and pages?

These two types of content are easy to get confused. Basically, a page is a permanent, static fixture on your site, such as a home page, About page, or Contact page.

A post is typically a time-sensitive blog post or article. However, you can adapt your posts to meet the needs of your site and use them for other functions, such as announcements, recipes, or other content.

As you move beyond WordPress for beginners and become more familiar with the platform, you can introduce new “custom” classifications for other types of content, too.

15. What’s a widget?

A widget is a small content area that appears at various spots on your site. Though the exact location depends on your WordPress theme, they’re usually located in a sidebar or your footer:

Some examples of widgets in a sidebar.

Common widgets include recent posts, contact information, social media channels, and search bars. They’re often highly visible, and not considered part of your primary site content.

16. My home page shows my blog posts – can I have a separate home page instead?

You can! To change it, you need to modify a setting in your WordPress installation.

In your admin dashboard, navigate to Settings > Reading, then select the option under Your homepage displays that reads A static page:

The homepage settings.

Select your desired home page from the first drop-down, and use the second to choose a blog archive page.

17. How do I add images to my WordPress site?

WordPress stores images and other media in the WordPress Media Library. You can upload content to it directly by navigating to Media > Add New in your admin dashboard:

An example of a WordPress Media Library.

You can also add images in the WordPress editor. Either choose an image block and click the Upload button or simply drag-and-drop the file from your desktop.

18. Can I add video and audio files to my WordPress site?

Both audio and video files are compatible with WordPress! However, these files tend to be large and can slow your site down, particularly when it comes to videos. You may want to consider hosting larger media files off-site instead.

19. Can I customize my theme?

WordPress includes a native tool called the Customizer that enables users to make changes to their themes. You can access it by navigating to Appearance > Customize in your dashboard:

Modifying a theme with the Customizer.

If you happen to know code, you can also always modify your theme’s files directly or add your own custom CSS. This isn’t recommended for less-experienced users, however.

20. Can I use my WordPress website to make money?

WordPress users make money from their websites every day. The WooCommerce plugin makes it easy to turn your site into an online store, as just one example. There are many other ways to make money online too, all of which are available to you as a WordPress site owner.

WordPress for beginners? You’re an expert now!

Understanding WordPress for beginners can feel overwhelming. However, the answers to a few simple questions can offer significant insight into how WordPress works and what you can use it to accomplish.

From WordPress basics to more complex inquiries about its security and profitability, we’ve covered a lot of ground in this post. While we hope you now feel ready to start working with the platform, you can keep learning by visiting our blog for more informative posts.

Do you have any questions about WordPress for beginners? Leave them in the comments section below!

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