In this lesson you will begin to add content to your totally empty website. This is where you start to get familiar with the look and feel of WordPress and how it operates.
Before we begin this lesson, let me just give a brief outline of how you should use ‘Pages’ as opposed to ‘Posts’, which we will get into in Lesson 6.
Pages are intended to be the ‘static’ elements of your website, containing content that you always want to be available to your visitors and which, typically, are accessible via a tab on the menu bar. Think of this as the ‘backbone’ information. You would typically have an ‘About Us’ page, possibly a ‘Welcome’ page, preferably a ‘Contact Us’ page and, along with that, a ‘Privacy’ page. Pages do not change very much and you may only need one or two pages on your website if you are building a blog.
In the Twenty Fourteen theme (and many others), pages do not display the date they were published. So this is a good way of recording information that you wish to appear current and up-to-date.
Most serious websites will have an ‘About’ page and I recommend that you, too, put up an ‘About’ page, because it will enhance the credibility of your site.
Add An ‘About’ Page
Log in to your WordPress website and from the dashboard, click on ‘Pages’, ‘Add New’.
This shows the Text Editor where you can add or edit the text content of your WordPress website. This lesson will show you around the features of this page.
Enter ‘About Us’ (or something equivalent) in the top blank box where you can see the cursor flashing. Then, in the blank box headed by the ‘Visual’ tab, type some text that describes you or your website or your business. Don’t copy and paste the text from somewhere else just yet (I’ll tell you why later in this lesson) – just manually type in some text so that you can see how this all hangs together.
As you type you’ll see that the words wrap round, just like a word processor. If you hit the enter key, you’ll get a new paragraph. Just keep typing until you’ve got enough text to play around with. Don’t worry about how perfect it is, you can edit the page later.
Now look at the icons on the toolbar above the text. You’ll probably recognize them from other regular text-processing software that you use.
You can see bold, italic, strikeout, bullets, etc. If two rows of icons don’t show, click on the far right icon on the top row and the second row will toggle into view.
The best way to find out what functions these icons represent is to hover your mouse over each of them and then experiment with them. If you hover your mouse over an icon you’ll see an explanation of what its purpose is.
The way these (mostly) work is that you select some text, click on an icon and you’ll see that change take place. In most cases the operation of these icons is self-explanatory and so I won’t include a lot of unnecessary detail here but will let you play around and explore them for yourself. No changes will be made to your website until you click on ‘Save Draft’ or ‘Publish’.
I encourage you to try out the blockquote, indents and links. And if you have a long page of text, say 500 words or more, then it is a good idea to insert subheadings. This will break up the text and make it easier for humans (and robots) to read.
To insert a subheading, interrupt the text by typing a short phrase on a separate line, then select it and from the ‘Paragraph’ drop-down box choose ‘Heading 2’ or ‘Heading3’. This will change the font to a larger, bolder one that will break up the page.
To add a link to text in a web page, select a few words in your text where you want the link to appear. You will notice that the little ‘chain’ icon becomes live and, when you click on that, a small pop-up dialogue will appear prompting you to enter the target URL of the link.
If you want to link to another page in your website then you can click on the drop-box labelled ‘Or link to existing content’. This will display all the pages and posts in your website and when you click on one WordPress will automatically add the URL to your link. Otherwise you can manually add a URL which might link to a page outside your website. Then click ‘Add Link’ and the text you selected will become a ‘hot link’ which, when the user clicks on it, will take them to the linked page.
After you’ve entered a bit of text it’s a good idea to click on ‘Save Draft’. This is handy when you are setting up a complicated page because it enables you to save your work when you get something right and return to the last draft if (when!) you foul it up at a later stage. I encourage you to use this feature, especially while you are learning. A page saved only in draft is not yet visible to anyone except you.
And if you want to see what your page looks like so far, just hit ‘Preview’. Your website will open up in new tab and you’ll be able to see the page as is. Close this tab and you will return to the page where you can continue with your writing.
When the page is complete and formatted as you want it, you can click ‘Publish’ and the page will be added to your site. And you will see that the page has been automatically added to the menu at the top of the page. This happens by default in WordPress: every page gets added to the menu in the order in which you publish it. You can change this by using a ‘Custom Menu’, which we’ll get to in Lesson 11.
Set The Front Page
The Twenty Fourteen theme is set up to assume that blog posts will become the front page of your website but it doesn’t have to be like this. On my site I want my ‘About Me’ page to come up first. We’ll discuss front pages in further detail in Lesson 10 but just for now let’s quickly make this the front page.
From the dashboard, go to ‘Settings’, ‘Reading’ and click on ‘A static page’. Then select your page from the drop-down box and click on ‘Save Changes’ at the bottom of the page.
OK, you’ve still got a way to go with your website but I hope you can see that you’ve made a good start.
And now here’s the useful tip I promised you to help when copying and pasting text.
How To Copy And Paste Text The Right Way
As you can imagine, it is often easier and quicker to type up your website text off-line, in a word-processor such as Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. But, be aware, just copying and pasting right into the text box on the WordPress page can have unintended consequences.
This is because, when you copy text from a word processor to your clipboard, your operating system will often copy not only the text but also the formatting (including fonts) as well. Word processors can contain a lot of complicated formatting behind the scenes and this can confuse WordPress because it wants to format the text according to the theme you have chosen and copying unwanted formatting can make it appear all screwy.
So, type up your text off-line in the word processor of your choice and copy the text to your clipboard as usual. Then, when you get into your WordPress page, click on the little ‘T’ icon in the toolbar (‘Paste as text’) and a pop-up window will appear:
(OK, you can see that it says you can paste formatted text from Microsoft Word if you turn this option off. I don’t recommend that you do this. Always paste text as ‘text’ and format it yourself when it’s pasted into WordPress.)
Now you can paste the text directly into your page because WordPress will strip out any superfluous formatting. You can then format the text as you wish using the icons explained above.
This feature applies both to both Pages and Posts.
That’s about it for Pages – you’ll find out all about Posts in the next lesson.
What if I want to change something on a page after I’ve published it?
Simple. From the dashboard, go to ‘Pages’, ‘All Pages’, and you’ll see all the pages you’ve already published, listed out in date order. Hover your mouse over the page you want to edit and click on the ‘Edit’ command that pops up. This will take you back to the original page where you can make whatever changes what you want. Then click ‘Update’. That’s all you have to do. You can edit a page as often as you like.
My website is just going to be a simple blog. Do I really need to have any pages?
No – if you’ve got nothing to say in any pages you don’t have to have any. Your website could just consist of a series of posts. But, for the benefit of your visitors, do think about including a page introducing yourself and describing your blog. And it might be a good idea to have a ‘Contact Me’ page. This might just help to retain their attention!
In the Twenty Fourteen theme (and many others) there is an option to select ‘Full Width Page’ under ‘Page Attributes’, ‘Template’. This actually still shows the left sidebar but the right sidebar is blank. I use this option if the right sidebar would be a distraction from the content of the required page.
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