You’re ready. You have a mind full of ideas ready to create a sweet piece of content. What to do? Hit that new +New Post button and get cracking! When inspiration strikes, you probably want to create a piece of content that will get pushed right to the top of the queue so to speak, or in other words, to the top of the front page for all of your visitors to see, consume, and share on social media. The WordPress Post is the means to make this happen. Let’s learn all about WordPress Posts, and how to create them in this episode of our WordPress Series.
The Core of the Application
The Post was once the only feature available in the early stages of WordPress. It is still the main core of what WordPress is all about. You’ll spend the most amount of time creating, reviewing, updating, editing, and organizing your posts while creating with WordPress. Thankfully the developers of WordPress have made this process as easy as possible, not to mention quite powerful. Once you’ve spent time with the application, you’ll surely agree.
Creating a New Post from the Dashboard
The quickest way to get going is to navigate to the WordPress Toolbar, hover over New, then select Post. You’ll be led to the Add New Post Window where you can begin the process of creating a new piece of content.
- Create a Title The first thing you want to do is to assign a title to your post. There are a few ways to go about this actually. Much has been written about the importance of choosing and creating appealing titles for your content, and the full discussion is beyond the scope of this tutorial. When coming back to view all of your posts in the Dashboard, the only thing that you’ll see in the list of posts is their titles, so whether you choose the worlds best title or something very simple, just make sure this is populated. Often times, you’ll circle back around once you have finished the entire article and rewrite the title to better fit the direction your article took. You can of course choose any approach you like.
- Add Body Content Once you’ve got a title, you can click into the body area and start creating your content. There are a million different ways to start creating here. You might want to simply share a picture and maybe a five word description of it, and that’s great. On the other side of the coin, maybe you’re ready to hammer out a twenty five hundred word post replete with images, rich content, snippets, and assorted links and resources. Go for it! Typically, the more the better (within reason).
- Autosave You’ll be glad that the developers of WordPress have implemented a fantastic autosave feature into WordPress. As you are creating your post, WordPress will periodically save the post for you. This saves you one thing you don’t have to constantly remind yourself to do, and you’ll be safe from various mishaps that can happen. If you’ve ever lost a large body of work after putting hours and hours into it’s creation, you’ll know it is beyond disheartening. Fear not, you’re posts will be safe in WordPress.
Two Options for Content Creation
There are a couple of ways to write up your content in WordPress. The Editor provided with WordPress is excellent, however some times it helps to just write text in a bare bones style. WordPress gives you a choice between these two by way of the Visual Editor as well as the Text Editor.
The visual editor is a way to create content and be able to view it in a quasi realistic view as it might appear in a web browser. It is not entirely accurate, but there are some advantages to using the visual editor in terms of speed and workflow.
The purists among us might be better served via the Text Editor. You see, when you use the Visual Editor, the software does a lot for you and on your behalf. There needs to be a certain amount of willingness to delegate this control over to the software. Some people have no problem with this, others might not be so quick to approach things this way. By using the Text Editor you have very fine grained control over your content. In addition, if you have taken the time to learn html, you can happily use your own html markup in your posts. It’s a great way to really control exactly the way you want things to be presented in your content.
Styling Your Content
You’re a stylish individual, and you want your content to reflect that. WordPress gives you a plethora of options for styling your content right in the Add New Post Toolbar. Here are some of the things you can do.
- Bold Add boldface to your text.
- Italics Give some of your text that sense of action.
- Strikethrough This little trick is awesome for those times when you want to say something bold, but need to be politically correct. For example, you wouldn’t believe the
shitstuff kids say!
- Unordered List A fantastic tool to outline your thoughts or points in the article. This information is part of an unordered list right here.
- Ordered List Great for outlining a series of step by step instructions, or a top 10 list.
- Blockquote This handy tool is perfect for quoting text from another source that you might like to include in your article. The blockquote is able to do this for you, and presents the quote in a nice, stylish way.
- Horizontal Line The Horizontal Line has been with us since the beginning of word processing itself many moons ago. It’s not a design element you’d think of as particularly useful, however don’t underestimate the power of the horizontal line! It’s a fantastic way to divide sections of content into smaller, more focused sub sections.
- Alignment Functions There are buttons for left, center, and right align in the visual editor. These are helpful for creating a good sense of organization in your posts as well.
- Link Functions You can insert, edit, and remove links easily from the visual editor. This is one of those cases where the visual editor is far and away the preferred option over the text editor for speed and accuracy. You can link out to other sites, or easily link to other posts within your own site using this handy tool.
- Proofread WordPress has a nice way to proofread your entire article for you. Make sure to do this before hitting that Publish button! This will save you a lot of time in having to come back to your post at a later time to fix spelling errors.
- Underline Add importance to a really key piece of content with the underline.
- Text Color You can add color to your text with the visual editor easily.
- Special Characters The visual editor allows you to enter all kinds of special characters if you like. Here are some of them! ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦
- Miscellaneous Finally, there are options to increase indent, decrease indent, undo, redo, quote, and more.
The Publish Widget
To the right hand side of the Add New Post window is a very handy widget that you will make use of frequently. The Publish widget gives you options to save your work, preview the post so far, browse revisions, and ultimately Publish the post so it goes live on the website. You will be tempted to hit that Publish button as soon as you think you’ve finished your work. Resist! It’s better to use the
Save Draft and especially the
Preview buttons very frequently. You want to make sure you get things to as close as where you want them to be as possible before sending that content out into the wild. Measure twice, cut once is the wisdom that comes to mind. In reality, it might be, measure constantly, cut only when you’re sure your ready! When ready,
In the Add New Post page, there are many more widgets for you to be aware of and make use of beyond the Publish widget. Some of the other areas include Format, Categories, Tags, Featured Image, Revisions, Excerpt, and more. You can determine if you would like to display these or not via the Screen Options tab at the very top of the page. In addition to this, if you hover over any widget with your mouse, you’ll notice you are provided with the four way arrow indicating that you can drag and drop the widget to any location you like. This is very helpful to customize your workflow in order to make things as smooth and fast as possible when creating new content.
Categories and Tags
WordPress Posts are fully organized via Categories and Tags. When first starting out with WordPress, it might be a little confusing on how best to make use of categories and tags since it will seem like there is some overlap between the two. Let’s have a look at how to best use both Categories and Tags.
The main organizing tool within WordPress is the Category. Every single post in your website must be assigned to at least one category. A WordPress Post can be assigned to as many categories as needed, and your WordPress site can have many many categories. It is required however like we just mentioned, that each post have a least one category. This is because it is by categories that WordPress maintains the order of your website. You can think of Categories as a Broad Topic which can act as a larger umbrella under which your Posts will fall. Categories are used to group like things together.
Tags are also very useful for organizing your Posts. In general, tags are used to assign more granular organization to your posts than you may have with categories. You’ll typically always have more tags than categories in your WordPress site. These tags provide a more loose association of your Posts, yet they are really powerful for the overall schema of the site. They are also excellent in helping the search engines to crawl information in your posts and relate them to other posts. Tags follow a Many to Many relationship pattern which we described in a Laravel Tutorial earlier. This means that a Blog Post can have one or more tags. Each tag can also in turn belong to one or more Blog Posts. WordPress has its own implementation of the many to many relationship pattern, and it works like a charm.
Managing Categories and Tags in WordPress
By navigating to Posts->Categories in the WordPress Dashboard, you’ll be able to create and name new categories as well as make any edits to existing categories that may be needed. The first field you want to fill out when creating a category is the name. This is how it will appear on your site, and depending on the theme in use, will be displayed with each and every post in that particular category. For example, if you have a Web Development category like we do here at vegibit, if you click on that category name in the public facing side of the site, WordPress will display all articles in that category. Next up is the slug, a great descriptor if there was one. The slug is always lower case and hyphenated in the url of your site. You’ll want to use pretty urls if you’d like to have your Posts display in the format of
http://coolsite.com/this-is-a-slug. If you like, you can create Parent Child relationships of your categories. Truthfully, unless you are running a rather large site, you likely won’t need to implement this. Lastly, you can provide a description of the category. In addition to this method of category creation, you can just as easily use the +Add New Category link from the Add New Post page of WordPress when you are creating the post. Both methods will work just fine.
Quick Edit of Categories and Tags
Once you have a few posts created in your site, you’ll be getting a better feel for how categories and tags are acting as the glue that hold things together and organize your data. What happens if you feel that things are not so well organized after all? Maybe a certain article would fit better in a different category, or you want to add 3 additional tags to a different post that would benefit the organization. You can do this very quickly by simply visiting Posts->All Posts and then selecting
Quick Edit from one of your entries. Then, you can simply check and uncheck the categories that apply, in addition to adding or removing tags that may be appropriate for the article. Once you’re done with your update, just click Update, and you’re done. Very easy!
Parent Child vs Free Flowing Text
Like we mentioned earlier, your categories can follow a parent / child relationship and are typically managed within WordPress by using checkboxes. Tags on the other hand are based on free flowing text. You can type out our tags as needed and click add. Once you have a substantial number of posts in your website, the tags widget will now start performing and auto lookup and auto suggest tags based on tags that may already match in the database. It’s quite slick, and works in a similar way to the Google Suggest feature when you start to type a search query into the form of Google.
The Art of Creating a WordPress Post Conclusion
We covered a lot of ground in this episode of our WordPress Tutorial Series. Creating a new Post in WordPress really is an art form. This article focused more on the mechanics and technical aspects of creating your article. There are a million and one ways to come up with the actual content that you’ll include in the body of your posts, however with this tutorial you are now armed with the knowledge of how to correctly categorize and apply tags to your post, in addition to Styling, Saving of Drafts, and quick edits to your posts.