WordPress Training for Clients
An easy to follow WordPress guide for beginners.
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, powering roughly 25% of the web. People use it to create websites more quickly and manage the content more easily. This ease of use, intuitive interface, and open source nature all play a huge role in WordPress’ popularity and widespread adoption.
This document will serve as a WordPress manual and will cover just the basics to get beginners up and running: logging into and navigating around WordPress, where to find content, how to edit or create basic content, managing taxonomies, working with media (images, videos, PDFs, etc), how to change the navigation, adding or removing users, and a few more advanced things. We promise not to get too technical.
1.0 – Introduction
This document was created by the Visceral team to provide clients and new WordPress users with a better understanding of how to manage your site. It should be used as a general reference guide for day-to-day administration of your website. It is not an all-inclusive manual for WordPress nor is it meant to be a handbook for making extensive modifications to existing site design or structure.
If you have questions or need assistance with the general management of the CMS, please call or email your developer or point of contact at Visceral. If design or structural changes are needed to the site, we recommend contacting us to request a project consultation and estimate.
More information on WordPress is also available online at:
1.1 – Logging in
To log in to your website go to: [YOUR WEBSITE URL]/wp-admin
Enter your username and password. You can check the “remember me” box if you will be using the same (non-public) computer to return to the website later and want to be logged in automatically. If this box is checked, your browser keeps you logged in for 14 days. If unchecked, you will be logged out when you quit the browser or after two days.
If you don’t remember your password, click the “Lost your password?” link below the form. Enter your username or email address and you will receive a link to create a new password via email.
Once entered you will be taken to the WordPress Dashboard.
1.2 – Navigating WordPress
The WordPress interface is comprised of many useful tools and features:
The Dashboard is the first screen you see when you log into the administration area of your site. On the Dashboard you will find widgets that provide an at-a-glance overview of your site including recent activity, update notifications, and other useful information.
WordPress Sidebar Menu
The most common way of moving around in the WordPress backend is by using the left sidebar menu. Here you have access to all content types, including pages, posts, the media library, and plugin settings. The menu items in the sidebar will vary, depending on the role assigned to you as a user.
Hovering over a menu item will reveal a submenu. Typically you have access to:
- Add a new page or post
- Manage categories (unique to your site)
Clicking a menu item will take you to the list of pages, posts, or categories.
WordPress Admin Bar
The admin bar is the dark gray menu bar that appears across the top of the dashboard. It also appears across the top of the site itself when you are logged in. However, it is not visible to public visitors to the site. The admin bar includes:
- Home Icon: This is the icon that looks like a house with your organization’s name after it and works as a toggle. Clicking this link takes you to the public-facing home page of your site. Once you are there, the link takes you back to the dashboard.
- +New Link: Hovering over +New link brings up a submenu to create new items such as pages and posts.
- Other Icons & Notifications: Some plugins also add items to the admin bar and notifications about updates can be visible.
- User Name & Avatar: In the far right corner of the admin bar, you will see your user name and avatar. Clicking on either your name or “Edit My Profile” will take you to the Edit Profile page.
2.0 – Managing Content Types (Pages vs. Posts)
The two main content types in WordPress are pages and posts. While they share many similarities there are some key differences:
- Posts are custom to your website and are typically ordered chronologically by date (but not always). They often have pre-determined formats so that the information displays consistently on the front end. They can have categories and/or tags attributed to them or other custom criteria specific to the post type. We go into more detail your unique post types later in this document.
- Pages are not listed chronologically and they do not use categories and tags. Pages are often static content and are usually what appear in your sites main menu. Pages are hierarchical in nature.
2.1 – Pages & Post Lists
Clicking a page or post type in the menu bar will open a list of all pages or posts (according to the post type you selected). Here you will commonly see the following:
- Page or post title
- Date published
Clicking the title of a page or post will open in the editor. Hovering over a title will reveal the following options:
- Quick Edit: Allows you to change the meta information such as categories without opening it in the editor
- Trash: Moves the post to the trash folder. You can recover anything that you have put into the trash for up 30 days
- View: Will go to the publicly visible page or post
- Clone: This will duplicate the post or page and allow you to create a new post or page from that duplicate
You can use the checkboxes next to the titles to perform actions on multiple items. After checking one or more boxes, the Bulk Actions drop-down shows you the actions that can be performed including Edit and Move to Trash.
You can filter the list of pages and posts by dates (month and year) or categories. The pagination control allows you to step through the list of items one page at a time. Lastly, you can search for words or phrases that may be contained in your posts.
2.2 – Adding or Editing Pages & Posts
This section will cover the basics of adding or editing posts. More details about using the content editor and adding or editing post types that are unique to your site are described later in this documentation.
Adding a Page or Post
Pages or posts can be added by hovering over +New in admin bar and clicking your desired content type or by hovering over the desired content type in the sidebar nave and clicking Add New.
Editing a Page or Post
Pages or posts can be edited by navigating to the page or post you want to edit on the front end then clicking Edit in the admin bar or by selecting the page or post from the list and clicking Edit.
The content editor is visible when adding or editing a post or page. The editor uses a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) toolbar that is similar to word processing software and text editing applications. You’ll also be able to add copy, links, images, and other media to your pages and posts. Click here for more details on how to use the WYSIWYG editor.
Your site uses a page building plugin which can replace the content editor, allowing you to create dynamic layouts without needing to write any code. Visual Composer essentially overrides the basic functionality found in the WYSIWYG editor and provides a visual editing tool. For more information on how to use this plugin, please contact Visceral or visit Visual Composer Tutorial for Beginners.
Saving & Publishing
Once you’ve added or edited your content you have three options (blue button) found in the publishing panel in the upper right:
- Clicking the Publish button will make your page or post public
- Clicking the Save Draft button will save your page or post but it will not be visible to the public. This is handy if you would like to come back at later to edit it or if you’re simply not ready to publish yet
- Clicking the Preview button will show you a preview of the current page or post. This is helpful as you lay out your content, allowing you to get it right before making it public
There are also several other options available in the publish panel:
- Status: There are three statuses which can be changed by clicking the Edit link.
- Draft is the default status and will change to Published once you have published the page or post
- Published means the page or post is public facing
- Pending Review means the draft is waiting for review by an editor prior to publication
- Visibility: You can also change the visibility of the page or post by clicking the Edit link.
- Public is the default and means the page is viewable to all
- Password Protected allows you to assign a password to your page. Only people who have the password will be able to access the page
- Private hides the content from the public completely but be visible to anyone with a link to that page or post
- Published on: Allows you to change the date the page and post was published. You can also modify this timestamp to a future date if you would like the page or post to schedule the post to be published.
- Copy to a new draft: Is handy if you want to duplicate the page or post and all content because you want to reuse the content or layout.
2.4 – Other Content Elements
Some content sections are only visible on certain content types. Below are some of the other elements you may encounter when editing your site.
Page Attributes (Pages Only)
This box contains options which determine where the page is located on the site and how it is displayed. The “Parent” dropdown allows you to select which section or context a page should live in while the “Template” dropdown controls how the page is displayed. Most pages on the site use the “Default Template” option, but for certain specific scenarios, like landing pages, other templates may be more appropriate. When in doubt, refer to similar, existing pages.
Categories and Tags (Posts Only)
Categories and tags are a way of organizing content within a site or blog so that users can easily find related content. Categories are selected using checkboxes whereas tags are designed to be free-form. More information on categories and tags can be found in section 3.0 – Taxonomies.
WordPress has no built in functionality specifically for SEO, so once again plugins offer a great solution. The WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin adds additional fields that are used specifically for search engines and offer the following:
- Snippet Preview – This shows an example of how the page will appear in search engines such as Google.
- Focus Keyword – This field does not directly affect SEO, but it is a tool to measure the effectiveness of your content. It can be set with a single word or phrase that describes the page/post, and then provides analysis on how well the page will be received by search engines.
- SEO Title – This controls the title that will show up in search engine listings. If left blank, the page title will be used.
- Meta Description – Controls the text that shows up in the snippet in search engine listings. If left blank, content from the page itself will be used. Note that this field does not influence how your page ranks in search engines, only what text is displayed.
We would like to point out that SEO is a challenge for most businesses, especially those in competitive markets. for professional help with editorial strategy, keyword research, or search engine optimization, please contact the Visceral team.
2.5 – Custom Post Types
While WordPress’ standard content include “Posts” and “Pages” as the two main types, it is often necessary to add additional content types for things such as “Staff Bios”, “Job Openings”, “Events”, etc. For such scenarios, WordPress offers easy solutions for extending built in functionality with Custom Post Types (CPTs), another reason for it’s popularity.
As with the default post types, these additional content type are accessible through the left sidebar navigation and function in the same way as the built-in types. Depending on their use for your site however, they may or may not include some of the interface features as the other content types. Our goal is to make the publishing and content management experience as easy and intuitive as possible.
3.0 – Taxonomies
Taxonomies are simply a way of classifying content, making it easier for users to find similar or related content. They’re generally used in the blog section of a website but custom taxonomies can be added to other sections as needed. WordPress generally breaks taxonomies down into one of two types: “Categories” and “Tags“.
3.1 – Categories
Categories should be high-level buckets used to organize content. There tend to be few of these as they denote the most prominent types of content on the site. For example, on a sports blog you might have categories for Baseball, Football, and Hockey. Categories can also be hierarchical so in this example you could also have sub-categories for National League and American League under the main Baseball category.
Categories can play a major role in the structure and organization of your website so it is important to take special care when adding, editing, or removing them. The Visceral team puts a lot of time and thought into our Information Architecture (IA) process to create websites that flow and make sense. If you want to add new sections to your site and would like professional consulting beforehand, please reach out to the Visceral team.
3.2 – Tags
Tags tend to be more free-form than categories. As a result there are usually more tags and they often consist of content that spans multiple categories. Continuing with the sports blog analogy above, tags could be phrases like “sports history”, “all star players”, “world records”, etc.
The main rules to remember are consistency and repetition. Since the goal is for users to find related content, it makes little sense to have 100 tags that are all used only once. The more often you use a tag, the more valuable it becomes as long as it is still accurate and relevant.
3.3 – Managing Taxonomies
The initial creation of taxonomies is usually done during the Information Architecture phase, and assigning categories and tags to content will be done during the creation and editing of individual content items, such as posts. However, it is sometimes beneficial to see / edit the taxonomy as a whole. You can do this by selecting “Posts > Categories” or “Post > Tags” from the main administrative menu.
From here you can create or remove individual taxonomy items or rename them. Renaming a taxonomy item changes it for all pieces of content that use it. You can also change the “Slug” or URL of the taxonomy, but this may affect links within your site so only do this if you know what you are doing.
Also note that “Categories” and “Tags” are the default taxonomies for the default “Posts” content. It is possible to have custom taxonomies for custom post types. The names may vary but they function the same.
Creating and editing taxonomies may lead to unexpected, or unwanted results for functionality, SEO, or user experience. Therefore, please only do what you know is safe. If you need to make a change, please contact the Visceral team.
4.0 – Media Library
WordPress manages all media uploads like images and documents (PDFs, etc.) in the Media Library. The Media Library displays items in a grid view, as thumbnails only, or a list view.
Adding items to the Media Library can be done by dragging and dropping the files you want to upload. Alternatively, you can click Add New by hovering over Media Library in the sidebar menu or at the upper left of the Media Library itself.
Viewing Media Details
Clicking a media item will display the media details, including the URL which is helpful if you are hyperlinking text to a media item download.
Click on the media item you want to update in the Media Library to get the attachment details. On the right there will be a link to upload a new file. This works for any type of media including images, audio, video, pdfs, and other documents and will replace the media item anywhere it may already appear on the site.
5.0 – Modifying Structure
While much of the structure of the website will have already been defined by the design and development teams, there may be occasions where you wish to make modifications to the structure within the CMS.
5.1 – Menus
The menus for the website have been carefully pre-defined during the Information Architecture phase of the project and they are therefore unlikely to change often. However, in certain instances it may make sense to add/remove/rename items within a menu.
WordPress’ menu system can be found under “Appearance > Menus” (must have Admin privileges). There may be multiple menus for the website, such as “Header Nav” and “Footer Nav” so make sure the correct menu is selected from the dropdown menu at the top of the page.
Once the appropriate menu is selected, you can use the controls on the left side of the page to find specific content within the site to add to the menu. If you would like to add content that is not on the site, such as an external link to a partner website, you can do so via the “Links” panel.
Once links are added to the menu you can organize them using the “Menu Structure” panel on the right side of the page. Here you can drag and drop individual menu items to re-order them and/or nest them inside of other menu items to create menu hierarchies.
Clicking the arrow on the right side of an individual menu item will open the panel allowing you to remove it from the menu if necessary or edit the navigation label. The navigation label is how the page will appear in the navigation and is useful for converting long page names like “Services we provide” to shorter labels like “Services” that are better suited for navigation.
When you are satisfied, make sure to click the “Save Menu” button in the top right to commit your changes.
5.2 – Widgets
Widgets are a way to add functionality and interactivity to global elements of a site, like sidebars and footers, without having to write code. While the majority of the functionality and widget setup happens during the build of the site, it may occasionally be necessary to add additional widgets to the site.
Widgets can be found under “Appearance > Widgets” from the administrative navigation. Adding a widget is as simple as dragging it from the “Available Widgets” panel on the left into the appropriate region on the right.
Once in place, clicking on a widget will expand its panel showing any configurable options.
5.3 – Redirects
A redirect is simply a way to forward one webpage or URL to another. While there are many reasons for doing so the most common are:
When the URL of a page changes (often due to a website redesign) it is a best practice to make sure that old URLs redirect to their new counterparts so that search engine traffic, external website links, and user bookmarks continue to direct users to the proper content. This practice is commonly known as creating “301 redirects”.
It is sometimes advantageous to have short URLs that can be easily promoted on social media channels or in traditional media such as printed brochures or television ads. For example, a long URL such as www.company.com/blog/2014/03/31/findings-from-the-2014-impact-study/ could be shortened to a vanity URL of www.company.com/2014-impact/
Redirects are not a native part of WordPress, but once again we have plugin to solve this challenge. Now, creating a redirect is simple.
You can access the redirects management interface from the main navigation by going to “Tools > Redirection“. The top of the page is dedicated to managing existing redirects. To add a redirect, scroll to the “Add new redirection” form at the bottom of the page (shown below) then add the source URL and target URLs, click the “Add Redirection” button, and you’re done.
Clicking on an existing redirect will also give you the ability to edit it if you should ever need to.
Note that it is not necessary to enter the domain name, only the path is required. I.e. instead of using http://www.company.com/example/ you can simply use /example/.
6.0 – Users & Comments
Like most content management systems, WordPress has the ability to store multiple user accounts for logging into the CMS and managing the website.
6.1 – Managing Users
Often times it may be necessary to add or remove CMS user accounts if people join or leave the organization. WordPress allows you to easily accomplish this within the administrative interface. Start by choosing “Users” from the administrative sidebar. You will see a list of users, which you can then modify or delete.
By using the “Add New” button you can also easily create new user accounts on the website. The account creation screen includes a checkbox for alerting the user of their newly created account or you may choose to notify them manually.
When creating new accounts make sure to select the proper user role.
6.2 – User Roles
WordPress has six pre-defined user roles that control what users can and cannot do within the website. Each role is allowed to perform a specific set of tasks. These six roles are:
Has access to all the administration features within the site. This is the highest role and has access to manage and change everything so it is ideal to have the fewest Administrators as possible.
Can publish and manage content, including the posts of other users.
Can publish and manage his or her own content.
Can write and manage his or her own content but cannot publish.
Can only manage his or her profile.
More information about WordPress’ built in user roles and their capabilities can be found here: https://codex.wordpress.org/Roles_and_Capabilities
6.3 – Edit Your Account
You may customize your settings by visiting the profile page within WordPress. The profile page can be found via the left sidebar under “Users > Your Profile” or by selecting the “Edit My Profile” link from the top right dropdown menu on the administration bar.
Here you can select your administrative color scheme, change how your name is displayed on content you create such as blog posts, and update your WordPress password.
6.4 – Comments
Blogs are a great way to encourage users to interact with the site in the form of comments. Comments can be found under the “Comments” link in the main administration menu where they are held for moderation before they appear on the website.
You can browse through all site comments via the familiar WordPress interface. From this screen you can easily approve, unapprove, edit (not recommended), or delete comments from the website.
There isn’t much more to say about comments, except that they should be moderated on a regular basis for legitimacy. In some cases, comments may contain security threats or spam. For most projects it’s a good idea to turn comments off, or enable Anti-Spam protection. Based on the project requirements, Visceral sets up the most appropriate configuration.
Akismet is a great choice for an anti-spam solution. It is installed with WordPress by default, but to activate it you will need to register an account with WordPress.com (note the .com nor .org) in order to get an API key. You can use the API key on any number of sites, and once you have the plugin set up, it will block almost every instance of spam, and can even remove previous spam comments.
7.0 – Forms
We provide a WordPress plugin called Gravity Forms – http://www.gravityforms.com/. This is dedicated to form creation for site features like Contact Us page forms.
7.1 – Form Creation
Accessing the forms section of the site can be done through the “Forms” menu in the left side administrative menu. Here you will see a list of forms currently created for the site.
Clicking on a form will bring up the editing screen where you can change settings and add/remove fields from the form.
All of the forms currently on the website were thought through during the Information Architecture phase of the project and designed/built in later phases, so an extensive overview of creating new forms is not provided here as it is unlikely to be needed.
The Gravity Forms documentation site can be found at http://www.gravityhelp.com/documentation/ and contains an extremely comprehensive manual of how to use the plugin if additional forms or changes to forms are necessary.
7.2 – Embedding Forms
Once forms are created they can easily be inserted into pages or posts. Edit the page/post where you’d like the form to appear and use the “Add Form” button on top of the editor window. You can then select the form you’d like to appear and click “Insert Form”.
7.3 – Form Entries
From the administrative navigation you can select “Forms > Entries” to see a list of all form submissions from the website. These are likely also emailed to one or more individuals as they come in but this view is a good way to manage them all in one place.
The gear icon in the far right corner allows you to configure which fields are shown in this display. This can be useful, for example, if you wish to add an ‘Entry Date’ column, which you can use to sort the entries by.
Clicking on any entry will allow you to view it in its entirety.
From this view you can also add notes and easily generate printed versions of the form entry for offline use.
8.0 – Cache
Caching is a technique which lets the server or browser serve a pre-built version of the page rather than going through the whole page-building process each time a visitor comes to the site. You can learn more about caching by reading Visceral’s blog post on Demystifying Web caching, but what you need to know is that sometimes, after you make an update on your site, you may not see it reflected on the live site. Your change has been saved, but the server is still using the old version. All you have to do is tell the server that there’s a new version to use, and you do this by clearing or refreshing the cache.
9.0 – Updates
You may see notifications on updates to WordPress or plugins which appear at the top of the dashboard or in the admin bar. Updates can occur for several reasons including bug fixes, security patches, and general improvements. Therefore, it’s very important to keep you WordPress website up to date.
However, in some rare cases, updates can break a website visually or functionally so it is very important to handle updates properly. This usually means testing updates on a staging site first, then running the updates on the production site. It’s also important to keep regular backups of your site in case something does go wrong. For more information on properly updating WordPess, see this post.
For users that are not comfortable doing updates or want someone else to worry about it, Visceral offers be Success Plans (a maintenance agreement). Once signed up, these updates will be made on a routine basis; generally once a month for plugin updates and as soon as possible for critical update such as security patches.
If you have any questions, please contact the Visceral team.