WordPress and Plugins: What You Need To Know BEFORE You Move To WordPress
WordPress is by far one of the most powerful website/blogging platforms that I’ve ever used. After a brief and delusional resistance I realize that, resistance was futile and that it IS THE best way to be effective in creation of a website and or blog.
As we’ve moved into a much more social oriented world we have grown past old school websites that just do not fit our needs anymore. These websites that were primarily driven by the older HTML and PHP formats were not quite as user friendly as WordPress. Also more importantly these sites did not allow for the ease of use that WordPress offers for all, including seasoned web designers AND novices alike.
The most important thing is, first knowing the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is hosted by WordPress; you have a few limitations in comparison to WordPress.org. You cannot use banner ads on your posts/pages, you have some limits to the template, which allows you to change to look of your site, and you have limits on the plugins that you can add. However, if you need a very basic blogging platform with limited bells & whistles and you are new to blogging, WordPress.com may be perfect initially. WordPress.com also allows you become familiar with the functionality of WordPress and will help when and if you plan to venture over to WordPress.org.
IF you need something a little bit more powerful with almost unlimited ability for expansion WordPress.org may be the best selection for you. If you are willing to invest some time, purchase your own domain, utilize your own hosting through the many host providers and become familiar with how powerful WordPress is, you can jump right to WordPress.org.
One of the things that I immediately loved about WordPress.org, in comparison to the old school PHP and HTML driven websites, was that the platform was contained in one space. The older websites could have a million pages spread out over so many areas that it could drive you to drink trying to keep track of them. With WordPress.org ALL pages are in an area called PAGES. Oh wow, that was easy. With all pages, posts, content and images contained within one area that makes it so much easy to update, delete and maintain the content. This is huge because it allows entrepreneurs and small business owners to create and maintain their own websites.
WordPress is essentially a platform with a very powerful database running it and as users of this platform we have almost unlimited options in what we can allow this database to do for us. WordPress allows us to keep it basic or add unlimited functionality to move our website or blog to amazing potential. For instance if we want to use it as just a traditional blog and just to post content we can do that with very little changes to the basic platform.
If we want to increase our functionality of a WordPress site we will have to use Plugins to do so. What exactly is a plugin you ask? Well, the easiest way to describe it is to compare it to a TV remote. You can manually turn your TV on and it will work perfectly fine without the remote but the remote allows you the opportunity to CHANGE channels. The keyword here is CHANGE. Without the remote it is a little challenging to change the channel but with the remote it easily opens the door to many more possibilities. Plugins could be compared to the TV remote; because it gives your WordPress site the ability the CHANGE it’s functionality.
Plugins can CHANGE your website from the most basic, blogging platform to whatever you want it to be. The possibilities are literally almost endless. If you’d like to add SEO, there’s a plugin for that. If you’d like to add a slideshow to your site there’s a plugin for that. If you’d like to add an online catalog to sell products, there is a plugin for that which would allow you to use a payment gateway or even Paypal as payment options. Plugins are the little pieces of magic that will allow you to create the most amazing WordPress site ever.
Below is a super quick image driven walk through of adding plugins to your site. This will prepare you before you jump into WordPress or walk you through if you are new to the platform.
One of my absolute favorite plugins is TinyMCEAdvanced because it allows you easily to add HTML functionality to your posts and pages. Whenever I do a NEW installation of WordPress, this is the FIRST plugin that I add. So I suggest that you do the same, because it is just super awesome. YES, I just said Super Awesome, so sue me. J Ok, lets get to it.
WordPress.org just like WordPress.com is driven on a Dashboard, mostly everything that you do to your site will be done from this area. So you will start at your Dashboard to add your first plugin. There will be a left navigation menu with a list of options of things that can be done on to your WordPress site. You will want to scroll down to Plugins and select from the submenu Add New. This is where you will search for your first plugin.
After searching for your plugin and finding it successfully, you will see two options from every plugin listed and that will be DETAILS and INSTALL. Make sure you CHECK DETAILS before you INSTALL because this will give you more details about that plugin. It will let you know if it’s compatible with your version of WordPress, how many times it’s been downloaded, the ratings, the last time it was updated and more. I cannot stress the importance of checking out DETAILS enough. A bad plugin can crash your site so it’s imperative that you check Details before going right for install.
In the Details box check the tabs there to find out more information on how to install it, screen shots and further instructions. After you install the plugin you will have to activate the plugin. You will get a note about the success of your activation.
Depending on your plugin, you may or may not have to adjust your settings. We are adding the Plugin TinyMCE Advanced, so we will have to adjust settings. Now go back to the left navigation menu, select settings and then submenu TinyMCE Advanced. That will allow you to customize this plugin to meet your needs.
NOW your plugin is ready to use! Go create an amazing HTML filled post or page!
Whew! We got through installing your first plugin! How cool was that? I would love to know your what you think, was this hard, or was it easy? If you have any questions, feel free to jump on my Facebook page and ask.
Until next time, Happy Blogging!