Open Sauce: WordPress

Welcome to Open Sauce: WordPress. Let’s make with the blogging!

Things You’ll Need:

An email address. If you don’t have one, get a Gmail account. Use your email address to:

Sign Up for a WordPress.com Account!

If you don’t already have a WordPress.org installation or a WordPress.com account, you should sign up at WordPress.com. Make sure you choose the “Gimme a blog!” option.

They’ll send you a confirmation email, with a link to click and confirm your signup, so hopefully you have webmail access as well. Once that’s done, you’ll get another email with a link for you to log in to your new site.

Things which may be useful to have:

Flickr, Youtube or Vimeo, Twitter, accounts.

Computer, digital camera, internet connection, something to write about.

How this is going to work:

Blogging and making websites is a ridiculously broad topic. Two hours isn’t even enough to cover the tiniest section of “how to make websites”, so what I’m going to give you is the core knowledge required to do something real – get some posts up on the web – after this, everything else you need is available in a thousand places online. If you feel like you’re stuck, and need to ask me a question, try instead typing that question in to google. You’ll be surprised at how far it gets you, and how fast you learn at Google University.

Before You Begin

Running a website helps you understand how the web works on a much deeper level. If you’ve had to create content hierarchies, upload and crop images, embed videos, moderate comments, and figure out your mistakes, you begin to develop Web Kung Fu. As a creator, an administrator, you interact with the web differently to mere users.

To get that Web Fu happening, you need a couple of core computer concepts that many users don’t have. So before we actually start blogging, here’s a two minute course in not sucking at computers and the internet:

Multi Tasking – Use Tabs and Tile Windows

Most modern computers have big wide screens, and multi-core processors, yet most users tend to run things with a single maximized window. This is inefficient. If you’re working on two things at a time – maybe you’re researching (watching youtube) and writing a post (about your favorite youtube clips) – get both of those windows visible at the same time and you’ll be able to do everything more efficiently.

Use a Proper Browser

While we’re on browser windows, none of them should say “Internet Explorer” at the top. Explorer has a very bad history of breaking web standards and being full of security holes. Also, lots of more advanced websites just don’t work in Explorer, so do yourself a favour and install Firefox, Google Chrome, or even Opera if you’re feeling crazy.

If you’re stuck at work and not allowed to install anything, get a USB drive with Portable Firefox on PC or Mac OSX.

The URL

Or “address”of a website generally starts with http://, and does not, in any way, require the presence of a series of three double-yous.

www

Stop doing that. It’s wasting everyone’s time. If you’re signing up a free WordPress.com account today, it will be a “subdomain” of wordpress.com, so it will be something like “http://yoursubdomain.wordpress.com”

Right Click on Things and Learn Shortcuts

Even Macs can right click these days, so you might as well be doing it. Right clicking lets you copy URLs and images, and do lots of stuff you might have otherwise gone to the menu bar for. Shortcut keys are even faster than clicking. At the very least you should know Ctrl+C for Copy, and Ctrl+V for paste (⌘+C and ⌘+V on Mac). Blogging requires a lot of copying and pasting. Now that you’re starting to get more efficient, take a look at this New York Times blog post: Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User. There’s quite a bit of stuff there that even non-beginners don’t know about.

Rant Over (For Now). Let’s Get Started

There are two main “types” of WordPress. WordPress.org is open source software, which you can install on your own server, and spend years learning to customize and program. If you have your own WordPress.org installation, most of what we cover in this workshop should apply to you.

WordPress.com is a web service, provided by Automattic, the company founded by some of WordPress’ creators. It allows you to sign up for a free account and host your own blog or site, while a team of server monkeys make sure that everything is up to date and secure, work to prevent spam, and pay the bandwidth bills.

When you’re logged in to your WordPress Admin, it’s time for the Next Step: Customization.

Advertisements