“Simply put, WordPress can work any way you want it to. It all comes down to your own coding skills, the theme you choose and plugins you install. You can add as much or as little functionality as you choose. With WordPress, the world wide web is your oyster!”
If you’re unfamiliar with how WordPress works, then it may help to imagine it as an empty iPad. Depending on the apps you install, you can use your iPad as a book, a gaming device, a movie player, or a notepad.
Just like an iPad, WordPress is a platform to house your content, website theme design, and plugins.
Depending on the theme and plugins you are using, your WordPress website can be an ecommerce website, a business website, a forum, a membership portal and much more.
WordPress isn’t held back by any platform-specific limitations and this flexibility is one of its key selling points. Instead, with WordPress, it’s the themes and the plugins you choose that determines which features will be available on your website.
WordPress gives website owners like you a lot of control and flexibility because you can use themes and plugins to control the features on your website. You’re not limited by the platform as you are in the example above.
Now that you have an idea of how WordPress works, I better show you how to add content in WordPress’s editing mode, yes?
How do you manage your content on WordPress?
If you’ve ever used a drag-and-drop website builder, you’ll be familiar with a content control panel (or editor) that looks something like this:
This is what we call a ‘What You See Is What You Get’ website builder (or WYSIWYG) and it’s a really user-friendly system that means that your website will look exactly the same in the editor as it will when published online.
It’s quick and easy to move content around with a click and a drag, and this makes it very simple to imagine how your website will look once it’s live.
On the other hand, WordPress has a very different content control panel that looks like this:
I know it looks intimidating – but don’t be afraid!
With WordPress, you insert your content into the content-entry box, just as you would with any data entry software. You’ll also notice that you’ve got two choices in the upper-right of this box: visual and text. What do these mean? Well:
- Visual: The visual editor is like using Microsoft Word. You can add formatting and see it reflected in your content, so it gives you an indication of how it will look when published. Even in visual mode, WordPress isn’t close to being a WYSIWYG editor.
- Text: The text editor is like using Notepad. You have to type out all the formatting and styling that you want to add (e.g. bold, italics, inserting images, etc) using HTML code (a styling language used on webpages). You will not see how your content actually look like in a live website until you click “preview” or “publish”.
You may also find that after clicking ‘preview’ or ‘publish’ that your webpage looks weird or not quite as expected. If so, then you better be prepared to reread every line of text in order to find and fix the broken code!
If you’re a WordPress newbie and haven’t had to use HTML code to define how your website looks before, then this can be real source of frustration. Thankfully, WordPress does try to make it a little easier for you with ‘shortcodes’, which are like HTML code shortcuts created specifically for WordPress.
But even with shortcodes, it took me a fair few sleepless nights fixing on-page errors before I finally felt comfortable saying that I knew exactly what I was doing.
You may also notice that you can’t move your content around on your page as easily as you can with a drag-and-drop website builder, such as Wix.
This is true even in ‘visual mode’ because it’s your WordPress theme that controls where specific types of content go. You can only use the WordPress content control panel to insert content but you have no access to the page layout design. Changing the design can only be done by changing the theme code.
For example, if you want to add an image slideshow to your content but the template you’re using doesn’t have an image slideshow shortcode, then you need to code in the option of adding one to your page in the theme code. You could also browse around to find a plugin that adds the code for you. Either way – it’s additional time and effort on your part.
Now, compare this to a drag-and-drop website builder where you can simply click, drag, and drop an image slideshow wherever you want on the page directly from your elements toolbox.
Content management and layout design management are two areas where I feel WordPress is not the easiest to use – especially if you aren’t familiar with coding.
However, where WordPress shines is if you have a very large amount of information on your website. This is because WordPress is the king of data management.
It’s much easier to manage hundreds of posts or product pages using WordPress’s data entry style of content management system than a drag-and-drop website builder.
Not sold? Let’s look at an example:
Say you have a website that talks about the latest tech products. On your site you have lots of news articles and hundreds of product reviews. Making and managing all those pages would be unthinkable in a drag-and drop website builder. However, WordPress can make it easy for you to manage a content-heavy website in three key ways:
(1) You get automatic content consistency
WordPress theme templates come with pre-set layout designs for post and pages, so everything you publish will automatically display in the same way. This allows you to quickly create new posts with a consistent layout design.
So for your product reviews, you’d simply insert the content, click publish and each one will will automatically have the same design and layout every time! It’s a huge time-saver.
Whereas, if you were using a drag-and-drop website creator, you would need to re-make your layout design every time you started a new page. This would mean either duplicating and editing existing pages, or recreating the layout from scratch using drag-and-drop tools!
I bet you can already imagine how quickly that would become annoying – especially if you have hundreds or thousands of product reviews to add to your website.
(2) You can quickly make site-wide content changes
Since the content layout of your product reviews is controlled by a central, pre-set theme design, it’s very simple for you to quickly make design changes across your whole site – but only as long as you know how to code.
Say you want to move your featured image (most likely a product photo) below the post summary box in your product reviews. In WordPress, you can make this layout change by editing the theme design code and it will be automatically applied to all of your posts at the same time.
This means that all your review posts will automatically move the featured image below the post summary box once you activate the new design change. It doesn’t matter if you have one post or a thousand posts, you just make one change to the theme design code and your new layout will be used by all of them – it’s like using a cutter to create the same shape biscuit.
If you were using a drag-and-drop website builder, you would need to go into every single review post and manually move the featured image below the post summary. This means if you have a hundred review posts, you need to make this change a hundred times!
You’ve got better ways to spend your time than that, right?
(3)You can easily manage individual pieces of content
WordPress started life as a content management system, so it should come as no surprise that it makes it easy for you to…well…manage your content! The posts management page in your user dashboard gives you a top-level overview of everything you’ve posted on your website.
For each post, you can see the title, author, category, tags, last modified date, and more, all in one screen. You can also filter posts and search them for key words or phrases. It’s like having your own private library, which you can sort and search any way you like.
Say you wanted to update the price of a product from $10.99 to $12.99 across a number of reviews. With WordPress this is easily done. You simply type $10.99 into the search bar and press ‘search posts’. This will bring up every post in which $10.99 occurs and you can quickly make the amends you need to. You’ll find this a real time-saver if you need to update a few individual reviews, rather than make wholesale layout changes.
On the other hand, with a drag-and-drop website builder, you just don’t have the ability to drill down into your individual content pieces. You’d need to either keep your own off-site record to search through, or comb over each and every page in order to update the prices across your whole site.
When it comes to content-heavy websites, WordPress makes it much easier for you stay on top of things than a drag-and-drop website builder does.
How do you add, use and manage features on WordPress?
“Your WordPress website’s features and tools are only restricted by the themes and plugins you’re using. This is the what makes WordPress pretty awesome. And thankfully, once you’ve found the plugin you want, it’s pretty straightforward to add to your site.”
Since WordPress has such a huge community of users and professionals, more often than not you can find what you need from pre-made themes and plugins.
If you can’t find what you need through pre-made themes and plugins, you can always hire one from a huge pool of WordPress developers to build you a custom theme or plugin.
Installing plugins and themes on WordPress is pretty simple.
For plugins, you can actually find and select the plugin you want to use directly from your WordPress control panel, which you can see below:
For free themes, you can find and select the free theme you want to use directly in your WordPress as well.
For paid pre-made themes, you will need to install your theme through FTP (which I’ll explain shortly), or through WordPress’s theme upload function.
You may find that after WordPress issues an update, your theme doesn’t work like it used to. This is a common issue and means you simply need to update your theme too.