If you take a few minutes to read and understand the basic concepts behind WordPress you’ll make faster progress in coming to grips with creating and editing your own content.
Pages and Posts
The basic units for presenting information in WordPress are Pages and Posts. A very simple website might only have 4 pages, say Home, About, Gallery and Contact. The top navigation menu would display links to these.
Imagine each Page as a card index card storing the information belonging to that page. Posts are almost identical, except they are displayed all together on one special sort of page, one after the other, usually in date order.
Posts are equivalent to entries in a diary, and if your WordPress site is a traditional Blog, this is where most of your content will be. To display this an additional and special type of page would be added to our website named Blog, News, or Diary – anything you like really. Each time you add a post it appears at the top of the special page, pushing the other posts down, and making one long stream of posts. This page itself cannot be edited as it’s just and empty receptacle, but you can edit or add to the individual posts that collect on it.
Just like a diary, posts can be added in an ever lengthening stream. Cleverly WordPress manages these and creates a series of linked pages automatically to avoid a single hugely long page. Every time you enter a Post it gets added to the top of the posts page. When your posts reach a set number they begin to spill over onto another page which becomes automatically linked, so you can always go back through all the posts that have ever been made.
Pages and posts are similar in that they can contain text and images in various arrangements.
All the content of a WordPress site is stored in a database, each page or post being a separate record – the computer equivalent of a card in a card index. The moment before you view a WordPress page there is just a blank framework, but as soon as your web browser ‘requests’ a certain page, the server loads the required content from the database into the framework and almost instantly the completed page is ‘served’. We call this a Dynamic or Database Driven page, and as we progress you’ll see why this brings enormous advantages.
The first advantage is that the content is separated from the framework or design. WordPress uses Themes to control the design of a website. A Theme imposes rules on typefaces, colours, sizes, layouts on every page of your website. Different themes can be tried out on a website largely without affecting the content. There are thousands of Themes available, many of which are free, some of which must be paid for.
Separating the content from the design is a vital part of making websites Responsive. That is, able to display nicely on many different devices.
If you compare the same website on a mobile phone and a laptop you should see quite a different arrangement of the components, rather than just a shrunken version. For a start phone screens tend to be viewed in portrait mode whereas most other devices use landscape format. Simply squashing the page to fit would make it very hard to read, so text and images have to be rearranged and type sizes and image sizes adjusted to produce a fully functional and attractive result.
Website layouts are not fixed, like printed pages, so it’s best to have a relaxed attitude to certain aspects of layout and design, and let the Theme do most of the work. Most modern Themes are built to handle responsiveness without you having to give it too much thought.
Hundreds of freely downloadable plugins can add extra functionality to your website. Calendars, slideshows, Google maps,search bars, shopping carts, input forms, table designers etc, etc.
Each WordPress installation comes with some native Widgets. These are used to populate the sidebar and footer. They provide things like a search facility, list of recent posts, list of links, a piece of feature text etc. Additional widgets are added by installing plugins, which can provide links to social media, what’s on list, mini calendar etc etc.