In this episode of our WordPress Tutorial Series we’re going to take a look at several key components of WordPress. We’ll start by looking at the function of the WordPress Toolbar, which provides a fantastic navigation mechanism for the administrator of the website. Hopefully you are said administrator. We’ll get into various features of the toolbar, how it behaves from the public facing side vs the administrative side of your site, as well as the key links you’ll be using very frequently in your day to day work. After this, we’ll have a look at WordPress Posts as well as WordPress Pages. They are in fact different things, and we’ll need to know these differences in order to make the best use of each. Let’s jump in to more WordPress!
Once you have WordPress installed, you’ll notice that when you log in to your website, a toolbar is present in the upper portion of your web browser. This toolbar appears both from the public facing side of your website, as well as the private administrative area of your WordPress installation. This toolbar is a chameleon of sorts, as it will change it’s appearance and functionality depending on where you are currently browsing on your website. It is a fantastic tool for navigating your site, as it provides self explanatory links to common tasks and resources you’ll need to make use of.
The WordPress Toolbar Logo
In the far upper left of your browser window from the admin area of WordPress, you’ll see the familiar WordPress logo. When you hover over that logo, you’ll be provided several useful options.
- About This link takes you back to the Welcome Page which we covered in the last episode. You’ll find out information about the newest features, credits, and freedoms.
- WordPress.org This is where you can find the latest and greatest copy of the actual WordPress application for download.
- Documentation This will take you to the WordPress Codex, a literal treasure trove of information. Think of it as the ultimate WordPress knowledge base which has everything you need to learn about WordPress, work with themes, write a plugin, or if you’re feeling brave, contribute to development of WordPress itself.
- Support Forums This takes you to the official WordPress Forums. With millions of other WordPress users just like yourself, you are sure to find helpful information and interactions with other web developers.
- Feedback Want to leave some feedback for the developers? You can do it at this link.
The WordPress Toolbar House
Right next to the WordPress Logo Navigation you’ll find the icon that looks like a house. This is the the part of the navigation on the toolbar that you will be using constantly! This button allows you to quickly toggle between the public and private sections of your website. When visiting from the public side, it looks like the following.
- Dashboard Takes you to the Administrative Dashboard of your WordPress Website.
- Themes A Quick link to the themes control panel so you can install new themes if you like.
- Customize By visiting the Customize link, you can do some quick display changes to your website and watch them update in real time. Once you have an appearance you like, simply save it.
- Widgets Widgets are very powerful and allow you to customize the way in which you group together sections of information on your website.
- Menus This will take you to the back end menu editor which will allow you to build custom menu navigations for your site. You probably won’t need to use this until you have a fair number of blog posts published.
- Background Quickly change the background image of your website. This is a nice way to add a bit of flair to your overall design.
To the right of this area on the toolbar menu, you’ll see icons that represent Comments, a new post icon, and a graphic of your website statistics. Let’s review these now.
Anytime a visitor leave a comment on your blog, this icon will populate with a number. This is a helpful indicator to let you know that either a comment has been published, or that there are comments awaiting your moderation.
Make use of this icon as much as you can! By clicking this icon you get taken to, you guessed it, the new post editor. This is where you will use your imagination to make the magic happen.
One you start getting some visitors to your site, you’ll see this icon start taking different shapes. These are your visitors, thank them for stopping by.
Right Side Toolbar Options
On the right hand side you’ll see some additional information to help you navigate the site. When you hover over your user name, you are provided with a few options. You can view and edit your profile, as well as log out of the current session. Also notice the color options for the admin area. If you would like to change the appearance of the back end of your website you can do that here. Chose from Sunrise, Coffee, Ocean, Blue, Midnight, Light, or Ectoplasm. They all look pretty nice, so go ahead and try a few out yourself to see how you like them.
The WordPress Toolbar Edit Post Icon
As you browse your website while logged in, you’ll notice a new icon appear in the toolbar. This is only present when you are visiting a single post at a time, not the homepage. This icon allows you to quickly edit the post you are currently viewing. This is a really fantastic feature, since unless you have some type of editorial staff checking your work before it gets published, you’re going to find small tidbits you’d like to change once things are already live. With this handy icon, you can do just that. It’s actually a good practice to browse around your latest posts, and just double check that everything is the way you want it to be. If you do happen to find something that needs a quick correction, just hit that edit button, fix any typos, and re publish. Awesome!
The WordPress Toolbar is Dynamic
One thing to mention is that we are exploring the WordPress toolbar with a Plain Jane installation and very few plugins. In your case, if you begin to add more advanced features to your site via 3rd party plugins, the toolbar may in fact update to have additional features as well. This is because the developers can hook into the toolbar from within their code to customize the admin experience of the toolbar. Like we noted earlier, in most cases, you’re going to have everything you need with the base install of WordPress, especially with these later versions. The software really has come full circle and is very powerful right out of the box.
WordPress Posts and Pages
On the WordPress Toolbar where it says + New, if we hover over that text we actually get the option of creating various new things. By and large, you’ll use this to create new Posts. The other options to choose from are a New Media, New Page, or New User. WordPress Posts and Pages are the two most common types of content for your website. They have many similarities and several differences that we need to know about. Posts are certainly the most common thing you’ll be working with, but what about pages? Well, lets take a quick look at the difference between WordPress Posts and WordPress Pages, as they both serve an important role in your website.
When we think of a WordPress Post, we can think of an update or news item. Any website that has continually refreshing and new content will usually be using a WordPress Post to provide this content. Think online news site, web design blog, internet based magazine, you get the idea. By the very nature of the way WordPress is designed, a new Post gets displayed front and center on the very top of the home page of the website. It is the latest update and freshest content. This works very well for most types of websites. New Posts usually consist of things like a news update, media item like a picture or video, article, opinion articles, web tutorials and so on. WordPress Posts are displayed from top to bottom so to speak in a revers chronological order. Almost all the content you come across on a daily basis is in the form of a new Post.
- Post Organization WordPress Posts can be organized in a myriad of ways including by category, tag, author, and date. This helps users to navigate your website and easily drill down onto the content they are most interested in.
- Post Index Just because a Post is no longer new, does not mean that it is not valuable or useful. WordPress Posts will maintain a place in the site index to provide benefit to your visitors for long periods of time.
- Post Social Links WordPress Posts usually have some type of Social Links associated with them in order for visitors to share content to Social Media Networks like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and more.
WordPress Pages provide a slightly different means to provide content than your Posts will. When we think of a Page, it can be more associated with a Permanent type of content, not an update or news type item. Pages can often provide valuable information about the site, but are usually not used to serve content in and of themselves. Think Meta.
- Page Organization WordPress Pages follow a parent child organizational structure. For example, you may have a generalized about Parent page. Under that particular parent page can be several child pages with further about type information of increasing granularity.
- Found via Menus WordPress Pages do not appear in the normal stream of blog updates. They are created once, and then exist, however users will never find these pages unless you provide a direct link of some sort to those pages. These links usually come in the way of menu options. Menus typically appear in the upper navigation bar, the sidebar, or even the footer. If you have many pages to keep track of and provide links to, sometimes it makes sense to create a multi column layout of pages right in the footer of your site. Many large WordPress based websites take just this approach.
- No Social Links While it is common to have social links and comments on your WordPress Pages, these are not typically present on the Pages of the site. The Page is more of a one way direct link of communication to your visitors that conveys meta information, not content to be discussed and shared about.