WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that enables you to create a website or blog from scratch, or to improve an existing website. In order to use WordPress, you will need to purchase web hosting and a domain name.
Once you have set up your hosting account and registered your domain name, you can install WordPress with simple one-click installers, but then once you get into your WordPress dashboard there are all these menu items. WordPress is a great platform for getting started with building out a website for your ministry, but it can also be confusing until you get to know the basics.
When you log in to a new WordPress installation, you will see at the top of your dashboard a “Welcome to WordPress” widget that includes some basic tips for getting started. If you follow the guidance of that widget it will give you some guidance on writing a post and creating a page. Once you are finished with the widget, you can click the dismiss button.
What about everything else in the dashboard though? In a standard WordPress installation, you’ve got a menu down the left side of the screen with a bunch of items in it. This is where things can start to get overwhelming.
Let’s look at the key menu items you will use a lot.
This is where you will write the content for your blog posts. A fresh WordPress installation will have one sample post that you can edit or delete as you wish.
To create a new blog post, click the “Add New” button at the top of the posts section or from the “Posts” drop-down menu.
Under the “Posts” drop-down menu you will also see “Categories” and “Tags”. These are two ways that you can organize your blog posts.
Categories are like the main topics or sections of your blog. For example, if your ministry is writing Bible Study posts, you might have categories for overarching topics like “Family”, “Overcoming Challenges”, “Depression”, “End Times” and so on. Categories are often used in site navigation.
Tags are like keywords that help group together related blog posts outside of your main categories. Using our Bible Studies example, you might use tags for the books of the Bible that you refer to in the Bible Study. Tags typically don’t form part of your website navigation and many people don’t use them at all. It’s entirely up to you whether tags make sense to use on your faith-based ministry website or not.
The WordPress Media Library is where you will find images, videos, and other media files that you have uploaded to your posts and pages. You can edit or delete those files, and you can upload others.
This is where you will create the static pages for your website, such as an “About” page or a “Contact” page.
In contrast to posts, which are typically displayed in chronological order on your blog page, pages are static pieces of content that don’t form part of your blog but are typically part of your site navigation.
To create a new page, click the “Add New” button at the top of the pages section or from the “Pages” drop-down menu.
This is where you will moderate any comments that people have left on your blog posts. You can also turn off comments for individual posts or pages if you wish.
If you have a spam filter like Akismet installed, it will flag potential spam comments as spam and may also block or delete them automatically depending on the rules you set. Some spam comments will still get through, they always do.
Comments that aren’t picked up by your spam filter will be visible here for you to approve or reject.
You can also respond to comments here.
The “Appearance” menu is where you can change the look and feel of your website by installing new themes and widgets, and customizing the theme settings, menus and more. This is where we went to install a theme earlier in our WordPress guide.
Plugins are bits of software that add new features or functionality to your WordPress site. There are plugins for just about everything you can think of, from social media sharing to contact forms to eCommerce.
We’ll talk more about finding and installing plugins in a later guide, but this section is where it will all happen.
This is where you manage the users who have access to your WordPress site. By default, a new WordPress installation will have one user: the administrator you created during the set-up process.
As your ministry website grows, you may want to give other people access to help manage the site content or moderate comments. There are various levels of access you can grant based on what other users need access to.
The Users section is also where you change your own password and account settings.
The WordPress Tools section contains a number of helpful tools for managing your website, including the ability to import and export content from other sites, back up your database, see site health reports and more. In practice, you probably won’t come here much, if at all, unless there is a problem or unless you are bringing in content from another blog you own, perhaps on another platform.
The Settings area is where you can change the various settings for your WordPress site. This includes things like the site title and tagline, permalinks (the URL structure), and more in the sub-sections. These settings control much of how your site functions at the most basic level and we configured some of these settings in our basic WordPress configuration steps article.
The General settings area controls things like your site title, tagline, and URL structure.
The Writing settings area lets you control things related to writing and publishing content on your site, such as the default post category and format.
The Reading settings area allows you to control how your blog posts are displayed on your blog page as well as other options like the number of posts shown per page and whether or not to display the full text or just a summary.
The Discussion settings area is where you can control things related to comments, such as whether or not people must be registered and logged in to leave a comment, how comments are moderated, and whether or not you want WordPress to notify you of new comments.
The Media settings area lets you control the default image sizes that get generated when you upload photos as well as whether to organise them into year and month folders or not.
The Permalinks settings area allows you to control the URL structure of your WordPress site. This can be helpful for SEO purposes as well as making your URLs more readable and user friendly.
That’s it for the basics of WordPress. As you add a theme or plugins, they will add more dashboard menus and features as well as new options under “Settings”. Don’t be surprised to see more options as you build out your website.
If you have gone through our previous guides as well as this one, you should now be aware of the basics of how to use WordPress. We’ll delve into some of these areas in more detail in future guides, or you can check out https://easywpguide.com/ for a comprehensive guide that is kept up to date with each new release of WordPress.