WordPress First Time User Course

Scott Winterroth, Instructor

Welcome to the WordPress First Time User (FTU) Course!

In this online course, I’ll introduce to you WordPress with a series of core learning modules designed for the first-time user of WordPress.

If you have any questions at any time, be sure to contact me with the contact form below.

Part 1: FTU Introduction

Course overview and introduction to key concepts of WordPress and content management. 

1. Overview of Key Concepts

 

We will cover these terms throughout this course but here’s an initial introduction:

Content Management System (CMS)
A platform for managing your site content in the form of a special administrative dashboard. WordPress is our CMS.

Domain Names (or simply domain)
The address of your website and how others find you.

Web Hosting (or simply hosting)
Purchased space to store your website’s files and database

2. Getting Started – WordPress Example

In this lesson, we review a live sample of a WordPress site created by your instructor, Scott Winterroth. Watch the video and feel free to view the live site by visiting Scott Winterroth.

Please note, I’ve changed the URL since recording this URL.

3. Getting Started – What is WordPress?

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Let’s learn about what WordPress really does and how it became the dominant player in the Content Management System space. 

Lesson Notes

What is WordPress?

It is software used by more than 30% of websites*, worldwide. Which is huge if you think of all of the websites out there. Why is it so popular? WordPress is the engine, or an efficient content management system (CMS) and offers a flexible framework from which to build a website or a blog. WordPress is also more than just software, it’s an ideal and a community of web developers, programmers, and content creators.

*This number is constantly increasing…

History Lesson

In order to begin your journey of learning the basics, let’s begin with a very quick history lesson. In 2003, WordPress was built by Matt Mullenweg and David Little who wanted to improve on an existing blogging software. They improved the software and developed it into what we know today as WordPress As its name implies, it is the ideal way to ‘press’ words to create content for a website or a blog. You could say WordPress is your own printing press for publishing and sharing information via the World Wide Web. WordPress was revolutionary at the time it was created in 2003 because it was one of the first content management platforms that allowed web developers to not have to create a content admin from scratch for every new project

4. Getting Started – Web Mechanics

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Lesson Notes

Before you dive into managing your own blog or website it is important to understand:

  • The web is written in a computer language called HTML or hypertext markup language
  • You may even have some familiarity with HTML already
  • This is the language of web browsers and WordPress takes your content and turns it into HTML to operate on the web.

A web browser is what you use to interact with the internet, you’re probably familiar with one or any of the following:  Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

WordPress is software, but it operates a bit differently over what you might think of as traditional software.

For a website to operate it must have a web host

  • WordPress does not operate on your computer.
  • It is software that runs on a web server.
  • You access a WordPress website through a hosting service.

In the example in the video, you will see a graphic representation of where your website sits in relation to your computer and the WorldWideWeb.  The WWW, as represented in the center of this graphic, is a network of computers and servers where we use our Internet-enabled devices to retrieve information. WordPress is software, but not software that is installed on a personal computer but rather on a dedicated computer called a Web Host Server as represented on the right.

Self Hosting with WordPress

When “Self Hosting” WordPress, both you and your visitors access your website through the WWW.  Because your website is not stored locally on your personal computer but rather from a Web Host Server of your choice. You will often hear the term Self Hosting within the WordPress community which is a “made up word” that we refer to installing WordPress on a hosting server.

  • Further instructions for how to install WordPress can be found on the project’s website, WordPress.org.  But we’re going to walk you through this process in this course. Self-hosted means you have registered your own your domain name, and pay a monthly fee for a Web Hosting Server to maintain your own WordPress “Install”
  • Alternatively, one can use a hosted version of WordPress on WordPress.com which is a limited use version of WordPress. Designed for simplicity, not scalability.  We explain WordPress.com further in the next lesson.

5. Getting Started – WordPress VS WordPress

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Lesson Notes
There are two type of WordPress,  WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  In this lesson, let’s first examine WordPress.com so we can compare.

WordPress.com is essentially a 3rd-party service for those who don’t want to fuss with the hosting or maintaining WordPress and signup for a service that is limited and costly.  

    • WordPress.com has a reputation as a free blog service or used to create a simple limited website using a standardized template.
    • It’s really not an ideal place to start a scalable online business platform.
    • The fact that it is free means there are limitations for using the platform.

 

  • FREE, fast and easy is NOT the way to build a foundation for your blog, website or brand!

 

If you’re going to spend the time to build and manage a blog or website, then you should use a platform that will drive the best results.

The basic free WordPress.com package includes a subdomain site like travelblog.wordpress.com.  In my opinion, not really ideal way to build a personal brand in an era where you can really build a sharp, professional website with relatively little resources. We’re going to provide you with the know-how so you can skip WordPress.com and go straight to the big leagues where the pros play.

You have very little opportunity to make an impression, don’t waste it with fast and easy blog site.   Best thing is, I’m going to show you how to install WordPress on your own hosting so you can build a highly scalable website that is used by professional marketers and bloggers.

So, long story short, skip the WordPress.com.  Basically, in order to do anything remotely outside of something that is equivalent to a children’s building play block you have to pay massive amounts of money.  Not worth if you have the skills and knowledge that we’re sharing with you in this course.

WordPress.com:

  • Predefined building blocks that sort of have a limited use purpose.

WordPress.org

  • A platform that you can use to build almost anything imaginable.   WordPress .org, much like lego bricks and requires two things, determination to want to build something and creativity.

Building your growth platform:

Self-Hosting with WordPress is the ultimate creative platform for building dynamic websites and growing your business online. I want to show you how to get started building the web presence of your dreams and share with you my recipe for success.  You will need three ingredients to get started.

  • First you will need to register a domain name
  • Then we will need to find some hosting to install WordPress on.
  • With WordPress, you’re building a serious marketing
  • Growth Platform that has worked well for many and now can work for you.

Part 2: FTU Domain Names

7. Domain Names

Lesson Notes

A domain is essentially the name of your website

  • If you think of how the dictionary defines domain, you find something like the area or territory owned or controlled by you. For a domain name, it’s the name associated with your online website or blog.
  • In this lesson, we’re going to examine
    • Internet Domain Names and how they uniquely identify your website or blog.
    • How to register a domain name
    • An overview of the Domain Name System or commonly referred to as the DNS

When you own website or a blog and you need something for others to find your online domain.  This is where domain names come in, you can see in the example, which is a screenshot of my personal blog.  In the url bar is the address to my site.  https://swinterroth.com This may seem familiar to you as Internet domain names and URLs have become ubiquitous in modern day culture but do you know how they work? Let’s dissect the url so you have a solid understanding of how domain names work and how it will apply to your WordPress site.

A domain name is a sequence of letters or numbers

  • The World Wide Web is a network of websites, similar to how the telephone system works.
  • Each endpoint – or in our case website – needs a unique identifier so a user knows how to reach it.
  • This is where domain names come in so other users can find your web “domain” whether it is a website, blog, or web app.
  • Let’s review my example to identify the different aspects of the URL.
    • Http or Hypertext Transfer Protocol is essentially a command is telling the web browser a user is trying to fetch a url
    • The “S” denotes the web page is secure, meaning the data between the server and the browser is encrypted.
    • Www mean it’s on the “worldwideweb” but this is often optional, not all sites use the www.
    • swinterroth this is my domain’s unique identifier
    • .com – the domain extension – more on this next

Identifiers and Extensions

Examples If you were to compare a domain name to a telephone number, the extension, for example the .com, would be the region code and prefix. Sort of similar to an area code.

Domain names come with various extensions. Popular extensions in the United States are: .com, .net and .org – TLD Where you might find regional cc – or country codes like: .us, co.uk, .mx  and many more Not-coms examples: .club, .blog, .attorney  which have no specific region associated to them.

How to pick a Domain Name

Domain names commonly describe what the website or blog is about or a can be a catchy brandable term. You can register any domain name you prefer for your website or blog, as long as the name is available for registration. Examples include Content Academy, which is a website that is about content strategy and marketing or Amazon, which is an e-commerce business that has coined Amazon their brand.

  • A domain name may not be available for registration if someone else has already registered it or it contains characters that are not valid. Only one person can register a domain name at a time as they are unique identifiers.
  • Most special characters are not allowed in domain names. Hyphens are allowed, but I recommend avoiding them.

8. Domain Registrars

Lesson Notes
It is necessary to register a domain name with a Domain Name Registrar or a commercial entity that manages the reservation of internet domain names and works as your agent with the global consortium known as ICANN or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is responsible for monitoring the domain registry and holds hearings for any international trademark disputes as well as oversee the adoption of new extensions. Learn more about ICANN at icann.org.

What you need to know before you register a domain

  • Individuals and Organizations may register domain names
  • Both must have a valid address and contact information
  • Some international domain extensions require registrants to have a physical address within the country or some type of registering agent.
  • Registering a domain name begins with a search

Domain Registration Fees

  • To register a domain, you “lease” the domain on an annual basis.
  • It’s generally about $12 – $15 a year for a .com registration.
  • Make sure to keep your credit card/debit card on file up to date as payment failure can lead to losing your domain.
  • If you’re paying more than $15 a year for a .com domain registration, you’re probably paying too much.

WHOIS Privacy Filter

ICANN maintains a publicly accessible database of domain registrant contact information called WHOIS.  The purpose of the WHOIS database is to provide a way to find out the registered domain holder. Some registrars provide a way to hide your personal contact information with what is often referred to as a “Privacy” filter.  The registrar will then use a generic address and contact information in place of where your personal contact information would be publically listed. I highly recommend using this service to avoid receiving spam emails and aggressive telemarketing phone calls and texts. It usually is about another $7 to $10 dollars a year for this service and it will avoid exposing your personal contact information on the web.

9. Domain Name Servers (DNS)

Lesson Notes
  • The DNS serves as a “backend directory”.
  • Website hosting servers are identified with a serial of numbers referred to as an IP Address.
  • In order for your domain name to connect to the correct server and load your website, it must point to the correct server.
  • Most DNS configurations vary depending on your hosting company and domain registrar.
  • Your hosting company will provide you with your server’s IP address and any specific configuration instructions.
  • Refer to your provider for specific technical information, or contact us and we’ll do our best to help you navigate this process.
  • For example, my domain name configuration panel will ask me for my servers’ IP address.
  • My web hosting company will provide me with the server IP address to point my domain name to. Once I enter the correct IP address to my domain name, it will route HTTP browser traffic to my website stored on my hosting account.
  • Just to clarify, while this DNS process does apply to all websites, your hosting and domain provider may not require you to configure your DNS this as it may happen in the background upon setup.

You will need to do this if your domain is registered with one company but your website is hosted with a different company. Working with the DNS It’s important to note: changes to the DNS system can take several hours to propagate over the internet. Expect a delay after you make any changes to your DNS configurations. You may also need to refresh your internet browser’s cache to clear out any old connections. Most DNS changes are infrequent and you may never have to touch this depending on your hosting provider Refer to your domain or hosting provider for further technical questions or contact me if you need any help.

Part 3: FTU Hosting

10. Website Hosting

Lesson Notes

What is hosting?

  • As we have explained, the internet is a network of computers that talk to each other to serve web content. We use or devices to pull information to our computer from these servers.
  • You can technically host a website from your computer but it’s not ideal.
  • To operate a website, one must have a computer dedicated to serving a website. For most, this requires renting space from a web host. It’s ideal to rent space from a web host rather than conjure up a way for you to host the website from your own computer.  A hosting company provides one key service, they know exactly what they need to do to host your website in an efficient and scalable manner.  Essentially, you’re paying them for the space to host your website and their expertise in managing the cloud environment. And believe me, server management is complex.
  • There are many hosting companies that offer a myriad of services and packages and do it efficiently and cost-effective.

How do you choose the best one for your website

  • Golden Rule applies: You get what you pay for
  • Quality support and customer service are key qualities to a web hosting company as you may need to rely on them if your website goes down.
  • It’s also good to identify hosts that offer robust hosting features for a speedy and secure website
  • Not to mention, it’s good to find a host that is familiar and can support WordPress

11. Installation Process

Part 1

Instructor’s Note: Before you play this episode, please open up SiteGround in a new tab to follow along.  Disclosure:  If you use this link and make a purchase with SiteGround during a 30-day window, Content Academy will receive an affiliate commission. We use these proceeds to create and market new instructional content.
Lesson Notes

Roll up your sleeves

Make yourself comfortable In this lesson, we’re going to walk through the process of selecting a hosting package and installing WordPress onto the host.  It’s good to do the next couple of lessons in one sitting but feel free to watch once, then come back to start the actual installation process. Note: If you already have a website hosting company or experience with this, the following may not apply to you, but I encourage you to give it a listen as the steps and concepts may be similar.

Why we recommend SiteGround

SiteGround.com is a website hosting company and is currently our hosting company of recommendation. We make this recommendation seriously. It comes with many years of working on other hosts, and we based this decision on a certain set of criteria. Our recommendation includes:

  • A has to be a host that we personally use, in fact, this site is being served from a SiteGround server.
  • They must offer quick and friendly customer support and
  • They must do a stellar job of hosting WordPress

SiteGround does all of that plus they contribute back to the WordPress project making them our top pick for users at all stages.

12. Install Process for First Website

Part 2

To follow along with this lesson, please have a credit card handy to purchase hosting on SiteGround.

13. Logging into your WordPress site

Use the following URL in your browser window:

yourdomainname.com/wp-admin

Please replace yourdomainname.com with the domain name of your website.

Enter the login and password you created during the SiteGround setup and install process in the previous lesson.

Part 4: FTU Wrapup

14. Additional Resources + Help

Where can you find additional resources for your WordPress site:

 

Free resources by Scott Winterroth

15. Bonus: Gutenberg Introduction

 

Read my full post on the Gutenberg Editor.
 

 

Special Thank You to Joan at RealTime Paradigm for the assistance in creating this online course.

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