WordPress A Beginners Practical Guide

WordPress for beginners is a simple how-to guide for those new to WordPress, as well as those familiar with this popular blogging platform but wish to improve their hands on skills. This practical guide will help anyone who wants to leverage the publishing power of WordPress, even if they if don’t know how to write code. The true power of WordPress is its ability to harness the basic elements of any hosting provider coupled with easy to use plugins that enhance this simple yet highly powerful code base with both visual and administrative tools that empower its users to build remarkably stunning websites from the ground up quickly and efficiently.

The true power of WordPress is its simple administration control panel that powers beautiful and expressive web themes including dynamic mobile phone designs that are ready to go in less time than it takes to run down to your favorite coffee joint to order a latte. This intuitive blogging system provides anyone the ability to have a truly professional looking blog site up and running quickly. WordPress is the most popular platform for CMS (content management system) in the entire world simply because WordPress is 100% free and also comes with a free user based technical support system as well as millions of plugins, both free and paid to enhance the look, feel, and functionality of your blog. WordPress also supports many online industries such as Real Estate, Auto sales, auction sites, banking, financing, and many others, no matter what type of site you desire, from a personal blog or Vblog (video blog) to richly detailed high-profile e-Commerce storefronts, you can do it all with WordPress!

Getting Started With WordPress

Before you deploy WordPress there are a few things to consider such as your web hosting provider along with the services that are included with your hosting plan. Just about all web hosting providers, even most economy hosting companies are already set up to support WordPress, but if you are unsure about the minimum requirements, this is a basic requirements list directly from the WordPress.org Codex. WordPress is designed to run in a Unix/Linux environment with PHP and MySql, however, it is possible to run WordPress with IIS, but is highly discouraged since it will at the very least hinder many of the key functions that make using WordPress the powerful open source publishing platform that it is today. These are the bare minimum requirements needed to run WordPress.

  • PHP version 5.6 or greater
  • MySql version 5.6 or greater, or MariaDB version 10.0 or greater
  • Apache or Nginx

There are many hosting providers such as GoDaddy, Blue host, and others that offer specific WordPress hosting packages, but for the more experienced web dev, a simple cPanel Linux hosting platform is all you need to control every aspect of your WordPress system. The more common system tools for those skilled administrators are SSH, Sftp, MyPhpAdmin and the cron system. For the novice blogging user, it would be prudent to choose a managed hosting package that that takes care of the major administrative tasks, such as backups, system updates etc, leaving the building and control of WordPress directly in the user’s hands.

There are many speciality hosting companies that only offer WordPress hosting and offer a wide variety of competitive hosting packages designed to suit the needs of the absolute beginner all the way to seasoned Web developers who insist on managing every aspect of their WordPress environment. Whichever hosting package you require, WordPress will satisfy all of your blogging needs.

WordPress Security

Because WordPress is a highly popular blogging system, it is a popular target for hackers, and would be script kiddies who wish to try out the hacking exploits they have read about somewhere or found on the dark web purely for the enjoyment of causing damage to someone’s hard work. Whatever the case may be the primary focus of all WordPress admin’s should be locking down their site before it is maliciously attacked and either destroyed or infected with either a hidden rootkit or other exploits that turn it into a host for hacking bots that can be remotely triggered and controlled without the knowledge of the admin.

The most popular plugins to harden a WordPress site are Wordfence, Scuri, and others, but both Wordfence and sucuri are both high-quality plugins for WordPress that provide real-time system scanning along with sophisticated detection algorithms that detect and block brute force hacking attempts and many other known system weaknesses. Many seasoned web developers may use specifically written code that is manually added into the WordPress functions.php or elsewhere to fully harden and remove a variety of known, unknown or unpublished code weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Both Wordfence and Sucuri offer free versions of their security plugins and do work just as well as their paid versions with the only differences being the removal of some automated tasks of which must be manually performed, however, for the novice user or those on a limited budget these free plugin versions are essential security tools and shouldn’t be overlooked at any cost!

Data Backup applications

Along with code hardening plugins, another must have tool is the WordPress backup plugin or system. These tools are also top priority requirements and should not be omitted from any blogging platform. Even on the most well designed and secure hosting platform, system or hardware failures can happen and quickly render a perfectly running blogging platform into a useless mess, and the only method to avoid these types of issues and always ensure a minimum of downtime is the use of a backup system.

Like the paid versions of WordPress security plugins, there are a number of both free and paid tools and plugins that will make backups and allow them to be applied to a broken WordPress blog and have them up and running as if there was never an issue. There are a wide variety of WordPress backup systems available and depending on the type of site you are running with WordPress will dictate the sophistication of the backup plugin or system you deploy.

If you are running a high visitor volume e-Commerce storefront or other commercial blogging platforms then it is essential your backup system is able to quickly deploy a backup. It is not uncommon for a simple WordPress site to be no larger than approximately 100 to 150 megabytes with a MySql database roughly 50 to 70 megabytes, with this in mind you could easily use a free and very popular plugin called UpdraftPlus. This plugin offers the ability to backup WordPress including its database along with all files outside of the core WordPress system and then send it to a number of offsite locations, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, MS One Drive, and others.

Larger WordPress sites will definitely require a highly sophisticated backup program, and there is a number of 3rd party backup solutions, as well as the newly re-designed VaultPress from the makers of WordPress. VaultPress runs within the highly popular system, Jetpack. Automatic, the company that maintains the development of WordPress, Jetpack, as well as the ever popular Akismet have stepped up their game and redesigned Vaultpress to compete with all of the other very popular WordPress backup systems, and if you are one of the many WordPress admins running a large and high volume site then you should definitely consider an equally sophisticated backup and recovery system to match the design of your WordPress site!

Like nearly every paid WordPress plugin or service, VaultPress lives up to its name providing state of the art backup and recovery software that is scaled to meet the needs of small entry level blog sites to large financial sites and storefronts where credit card security must be handled specifically to meet certain state, and country laws.

Personalizing WordPress to meet your design needs

The most common reason WordPress beginners seem to choose WordPress is the vast selection of visual theme designs. The most competitive area of WordPress is the vast selection of both free and paid or premium themes available for WordPress. Along with a large number of security and administration plugins are the even larger and highly competitive WordPress theme designers. There is a theme for every visual taste in the world. If you have thought of it, chances are there is already a WordPress designed theme.

There are so many different theme designers,  such as Woo Themes, Theme Country, and many others. If you enjoy themes like Pinterest then there are many versions to choose from, likewise, when choosing a theme, you should be primarily concerned that your intended theme is not only SEO ready, but it is also designed to meet the current WordPress coding standards. Before you settle on that perfect visual theme you should make sure it is well designed to meet not only WordPress standards but that will also meet XML standards so your RSS feed will be easily read and parsed by Feed crawling bots like the Google bot, MSN bot, and others.

If your blogs feed code is poorly written or has even minor errors within the structure then Google and the other SERP crawling bots will be unable to fully crawl your site and if your site consistently returns errors Google, MSN, and others will stop crawling your site making it next to impossible to get your blog ranked and placed correctly within the SERPs (search engine results pages), this alone is a prime reason to choose your blog’s theme as carefully as you chose the security and backup tools and plugins. There are so many variables that go into correctly deploying a WordPress blog that while it may seem like a daunting task the good news is that by using the WordPress Codex, even the first time WordPress user can access the same resources used by seasoned professionals and with some patience and research footwork you’ll be able to find answers to every potential error or issue that relates to WordPress. Chances are if you have experienced an issue or problem within your WordPress core code, theme, or plugin, then someone within the vast WordPress support network has too and they will have a proven solution to your problem!

There are so many variables that go into correctly deploying a WordPress blog that while it may seem like a daunting task to undertake, the good news is that by using the WordPress Codex, even the first time WordPress user can access the same resources seasoned professionals use and with some patience and research footwork you’ll be able to find answers to every potential error or issue that relates to WordPress. Chances are if you have experienced an issue or problem within your WordPress core code, theme, or plugin, then someone within the vast network of WordPress users has too and will have an answer for you. I recommend visiting the WordPress support site and creating a free user account. Using WordPress support is 100% free and opens a vast network of free resources such as support and discussion of every element of WordPress from beginner’s help to the in-depth discussion of a variety of WordPress related topics.

WordPress is without a doubt the most popular option in running and maintaining a professional blogging system, and whether you’re a first time newbie or a seasoned web developer WordPress offers something for everyone, and it doesn’t matter if you are working on the smallest budget or running a million dollar multisite network, WordPress has everything you need to turn an idea into a code driven reality!  Good luck and happy Blogging! 🙂