It’s Time To Get Back To Basics
The October Austin WordPress Beginner’s class went back to basics. WPATX has seen membership climb and most of our new members are just that — folks new to WordPress.
Those of us who teach WordPress and mentor new users can often forget the level of confusion that comes with learning a new language, and no, I’m not talking about PHP or JS… I have been remembering how difficult it was for me to envision and understand what was happening when I was following the “simple instructions” of setting up and using my first WordPress site.
This WPATX Beginner’s class was devoted to learning the vocabulary of WordPress, understanding the industry nomenclature that describes just how WordPress does what it does when you tap your keyboard.
The goal of this class is to help our community of WordPress Beginners really understand what is going on behind the screen when you are entering text into your pages and posts and adding plugins.
This session was lead by Nick and Sandi Batik and was been designed for new users of WordPress and those who have been using WordPress a while and would really like to know, ‘How WordPress Works’.
WordPress is a Content Management System
A content management system (CMS) is just a computer application that supports the creation and modification of digital content in the form of web-based publishing.The main purpose of a Content Management System is to provide the capability for multiple users with different permission levels to manage a website or a section of the site’s content, without needing HTML knowledge. Managing content refers to creating, editing, archiving, publishing, collaborating on, reporting, distributing website content.
The WordPress content management systems support the separation of content and presentation. That means that when you change your theme (the appearance of your WordPress site) you don’t loose your content. The WordPress CMS content includes text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, maps, and program code (e.g., for applications) that displays content or interacts with the user.
The WordPress content management system (CMS) has two major components:
- A content management application (CMA) is the front-end user interface that allows a user, even with limited expertise, to add, modify, and remove content from a website without the intervention of a webmaster.
- A content delivery application (CDA) compiles that information and updates the website.
Simply put, the WordPress content management system gives non-technical folks the ability to publish their content on the Web.
Understanding Some Content Management System Basics
A Content Management System (CMS) is a database-driven software application The CMS runs on a computer (server) connected to the web. Website content is stored in the database. The software queries (Asks) the database for the content to present on a web page.
How Does It Ask?
Your WordPress theme is a collection of templates. Each of these templates contains the programming code to get specific content from the WordPress database. An example of this would be your blog’s archive page that displays the five most recent posts.
Content vs. Appearance
Remember, the WordPress CMS separates the content in the database from how it appears in the theme. WordPress holds ALL content in the MySQL database — how that Information is presented on the web is the job of the theme. The WordPress CMS allows you to change the theme without affecting the site’s content.
In order for your site to be viewed or visited on the web, your site has to be “Hosted” on a Server. The Hosting companies that manage these website servers charge a monthly fee. The Internet as you know it is simply a network of interconnected servers which share information with each other This interconnectivity gives us the ability to call up and view websites.
How The Internet Finds Your Site
Your website is identified by your web address — https://yoursitename.com/ — This web address is referred to as an URL, which stands for Universal Resource Locator. Buying and registering your URL is very much like registering your business name with The Secretary of State. Some Hosting companies offer both Domain Registration and Hosting. Some companies just sell and manage domain name registration and management. Your Hosting company provides your site with an IP Address and the domain registrar connects your domain name to your IP address.
WordPress.Com vs WordPress.org — What Are The Differences?
Although it is embarrassing to admit this, I was using WordPress for over a year before I even knew about WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a commercial site where you can host your site for free. Various site upgrades and additional features are available for a modest fee. WordPress.com offers what is called ‘managed’ hosting. That means that your site will be maintained and protected by the top of the line spam-fighting tools and be protected by automatic security updates. The company that manages WordPress.com is Automattic. It was founded by Matt Mullenweg, the co-creator of WordPress. Starting at WordPress.com is simple, just sign up and choose your blog name, and ‘theme’ your site. You won’t have to worry about installing the software since it’s all managed for you Automattically.
WordPress is ‘open source’ software – you can download it for free at WordPress.org, With the WordPress software download comes the responsibility of finding your own hosting company to hold your WordPress site along with purchasing your own domain name (URL) to point visitors to your site. You control the WordPress software and your site. That means, you are not only responsible for choosing the Hosting service, you are also in charge of maintaining and securing your WordPress site. The good news is that WordPress.org also includes extensive documentation at https://codex.wordpress.org/. The WordPress Codex will be your go-to source for all your questions. There is also a community forum where you can ask questions if you get stuck. Another great resource for WordPress users is https://wordpress.tv/ the videos are a great learning tool.
Every WordPress Site Is Unique
Each of the millions of WordPress sites has Its own address and password and it’s own install of WordPress files. Your site’s dashboard is how you control the words and pictures that are part of your site. These days most Hosting companies offer what is referred to as an “ Automated Install’. The following things happen during the automated install: A MySQL database is created WordPress files are copied to the web hosting server directory. A configuration file connects WordPress to your database. The installer prompts you for a site title, username, and password and the installer adds starter information to the database.
What Exactly is a MySQL Database?
MySQL is the database that works with WordPress. Functionally, a database is a way to organize information so you can find it when you need it. The database also connects related information such as pictures with captions; pictures with their Posts or Pages; Related Posts or Pages.
This Is What the WordPress Software Does
The WordPress program is written in a language called PHP. WordPress communicates with the MySQL database to retrieve and display your content in a web browser.
Understanding the WordPress “Dashboard”
You reach your WordPress Dashboard by adding the /wp-admin to your site URL (https://yoursitename.com/wp-admin) When your working from your site’s Dashboard it is referred to as working in the “Back- End” of your site. There are two parts to WordPress: The Public Part, and The Private Part. This is similar to the public area and back office of any business. The front end of the site is what the site visitor sees in their Browser, the backend is where you add and manage content.
The WordPress Theme
WordPress Plugins are bits of code that extend the functionality of your WordPress site. WordPress Plugins add functionality such as e-commerce, scheduling calendars, and site visitor analytics. Plugins help you upload, manage or manipulate images, documents, audio, video and much more.
We closed the How WordPress Works with a WordPress File Structure Demo. I hope these class notes helped. I have included a link to my Slidedeck below. I’m sorry if the transfer from Keynote to PowerPoint format sometimes does odd things to the headers and some images. We look forward to seeing you at an Austin WordPress Meetup soon. Drop by https://www.meetup.com/austinwordpress/ for the class schedule.
Follow me @sandi_batik / @WPATX / https://www.linkedin.com/in/hsandrachevalierbatik