Blog Basics Tutorial
After deciding to use a blog for this page, quite a bit of work has gone into it. I basically blew the whole weekend on it. Here’s how I did it.
Design Your Basic Structure
Figure out what pages and post categories you want. For this blog, I decided I needed the following structure:
- Meeting Notes
- Source Code
- Basic Programming
- Programming Technologies
- Advanced Programming
- Unweb Programming
- About Me
- Site Map
About the WordPress Structure
In order to plan properly, you need to understand a little about the WordPress structure. In WordPress, you can create the following items:
- Posts – These are your blog posts. These are searchable. These will appear on your default homepage. These will show up in your “Recent Posts” and “Archives”
- Media – This is how you manage your images, video, audio clips, etc.
- Links – This is known as a “Blogroll”. If you’re going to use a link in more than one page or want them to be able to be listed on your site, this is where you create your links.
- Pages – These are like web pages. They will have a link at the top of your page, depending on your theme. These are static and easily accessible by your readers.
- Comments – These are comments that are made by your users. Remember, if someone comments on one of your posts, you can go to that post and comment back. You are a user as well.
Login and Make Changes
Once you have your basic layout down, it’s time to log in to your blog and look at some basic settings.
From your email, you should know the web address of your blog. For example, this blog is located in the /WebProg folder of my domain. To get to the administrative login page, type your blog web address + “wp-admin”. For example, mine is “www.lexclab.info/WebProg/wp-admin”. You will need to use the username and login that you set up during the installation process. You will then be on your dashboard.
I recommend that you now create your blogging user if you choose to. On the Tolly-Ho blog, I wanted to be an administrator, but I’m not going to be blogging and such. I’m just the handy moderator. So I created another user for “Moma”. I made her an administrator as well. The rest of it is pretty self-explanatory.
Next, I recommend you go through your settings.
- General: A lot of this was set in your initial installation. I recommend you change:
- Tagline – change the default
- Membership – decide if you want to allow just anyone to register. I did. 😉
- Timezone – I had some problems just choosing UTC -5. I had to go in and choose Louisville. There seemed to be some Daylight Savings issues.
- Writing: I recommend you change:
- Size of Post Box – I needed more space. I set mine for 25 lines. 30 was too tall for my browser.
- Privacy: You decide. (I’m doing these settings out of order for a reason – stay with me here.)
- Permalinks: I recommend you change:
- Common Settings: Change this to one of the selections that uses the title of the page.
- Note: I’m using a Custom Structure because I wanted named paths to my posts:
You can read more about this and see different tags HERE.
- Reading: I recommend you change:
- Front Page Displays – I changed this because I didn’t want my blog listings on my homepage. I wanted a “Welcome” to users and instructions on how to use my blog. It’s up to you, but if you’re interested, check out the [cref blog-static-homepage-tutorial] Post.
- Note that there is an option missing here – You can set whether you want a FEED (like an RSS Feed) to show the entire article or a summary, but you can’t choose whether your posts can do this. By default, it will display a summary. If you want to display the entire post, see my [cref blog-post-full-content-tutorial] Post.
- Discussion: I just recommend you read and consider these carefully based on the type of blog you plan to have.
- Media, Privacy and Miscellaneous: I left these at the default.
Now that you have your settings ready and may or may not have made a couple of pages to change your homepage, I recommend you use your design structure to create a few categories. You can make Post Categories and Link Categories. Go to Posts>Categories and Links>Link Categories to do this. Categories can have the following attributes:
- Name – The name of your category will show up in the lists on your sidebars, and in the site map if you create one. Make it short, but descriptive.
- Slug – The slug is the shortened web name that will show up in your Permalink if you choose to use the category. Make this short and all lowercase.
- Parent – You can have a heirarchy of categories if you choose. If not, choose “none”
- Description – Depending on your theme, you might not need this, but enter a brief description just in case.
Create a Few Posts
I recommend you create a few posts before choosing a Theme. To do this, in your Admin Panel, go to Posts>Add New. You will have several things to choose from. You can edit or delete posts later.
- Title – The bar at the top is for your title. Choose something short and Descriptive. If you choose “Why I Decided To Learn To Program Web Pages” as your title and you elected to have your Permalinks to display your post name, your Permalink will be “http://www.mysite.com/myblog/mycategory/why-i-decided-to-learn-to-program-web-pages”. So keep it short and watch your punctuation. You don’t want slashes in them. If you put a date in the title, make it 1-1-2011 instead of 1/1/2011.
- Main Text Entry– In the main area, you will enter the content of your blog post. There is a tab to the right that allows you to choose Visual or HTML entry. I’ve had to use HTML to do a few tricky things, but the Visual Editor works great. It also limits you on purpose. Different themes will support different HTML tags, but all of them will support the default items in Visual. Fill in your data.
- Excerpts, Trackbacks, and Custom Fields– I personally am not using these.
- Discussion– You’ll need to make a choice here. You may not want to allow comments on some pages, but allow them on others. I am not educated on the use of Trackbacks and Pingbacks.
- Categories – Select a category for your post. You can place a post in more than one category.
- Post Tags – If you want to help people do a Google search of your blog, I recommend you use these tags. I am not certain whether they help with the internal search or not.
When you’re done, you can Preview and/or Publish your Post. Note that the system does Autosave to Draft if you haven’t published yet. If you have published, it still Autosaves for you.
You can make WordPress more interesting if you change the theme. I suggest that you pick out your favorite 4 or 5 and install them. Don’t activate them until you have some content so you can see what you like. You may want a 2 column design, or even a 3 column design. Give yourself options.
Check out the [cref blog-themes-tutorial] Post for links to download themes and instructions for installing and using them.
Once you get the basics covered, you may want to get more complicated. For example, I wanted to be able to easily link to other posts and links. I wanted to be able to display formatted code examples. I wanted a sitemap. To do more advanced things like this you will need to install Plugins. Please read the [cref blog-plugins-tutorial] Post for information on how to find, install, and activate plugins.
Here’s a list of the plugins I used:
- Blogroll Autolinker – turns names from your blogroll into links in your posts.
- Code Snippet – syntax highlighting engine for WordPress. A large number of languages are supported and it can be easily extended.
- Cross-references – manually set a reference to another post or page in posts und pages and you get all backward references automatically listed for every post and page.
- Sitemap Generator – creates a sitemap for your WordPress powered site. Features include: support for multi-level categories and pages, category/page exclusion, multiple-page generation with navigation, permalink support, choose what to display, what order to list items in, show comment counts and/or post dates, and much more.
- Last Updated Posts Widget – creates a sidebar box with a list of posts you’ve recently updated/modified. You can choose to display the date of the update beside the page title in the format you prefer.
- List Category Posts – uses a widget to allow you to create lists of posts for individual categories. You’re supposed to be able to sort them but that functionality is not working right for me. You can use more than one.
There are a few basic built-in widgets. I use:
- Recent Comments
In addition, most of the Plugins I have downloaded have Widgets associated with them to make them easier to use.