WordPress Tip #1 for the complete ignoramus: Learn how Widgets work. Widgets are one of the most powerful tools in WordPress, even though they seem buried halfway down the menu on the left side of your Dashboard screen.
Once you have selected a WordPress Theme and have your blog running, open Dashboard and go to Appearance and then to Widgets.
Click the down arrow on one of your “Widget Areas” on the right side Doesn’t matter which one, but make it “Primary Widget Area.” Now click and drag one of the widgets displayed in the center of the screen — doesn’t matter which one, but for now grab “Text” — drag it to the Primary Widget Area. A rectangle outlined with a dotted line will magically appear. Drop the Widget in the Widget Area. Now type something in it, either in the title or the text box.
Now look at the change in your blog’s appearance by clicking on the very top of the page, your web site name.
Do you see the text you typed? You have just fooled with a widget.
Remember: widgets are good, widgets are dear.
Now Go Back to Dashboard -> Appearance -> Widgets (you can’t change widgets from anywhere else as far as I know, which is not much). To see the widget you made, click on the arrow on the Primary Widget Area, then grab your Text widget and drop it in the Inactive Widgets area. Experiment like this with other widgets. Nothing can go wrong unless you delete or remove a useful widget from your theme.
Are you an experienced WordPress user, and have I insulted your intelligence? Good.
Are you an inexperienced WordPress user who has read something you don’t understand? Bad. Send me a comment. I’m not asking for questions. I’m asking if you read something you didn’t understand.
WordPress Tips for the Bewildered
I’m starting this page because I just started to use WordPress and once you learn something “obvious,” it becomes more difficult to explain. Most of my math teachers had this problem. “See? See?,” they asked, pointing at an equation. Well, no, I didn’t. That was why I was in a math class rather than joyfully outside, playing with a stick. And because what was complicated for me had become obvious to them, they could no longer see through my eyes.
So I am setting out to spell out my most simpleminded, most obvious, most idiotically simple discoveries in the use of WordPress. My purpose is not to impress you with my knowledge, but to take advantage of my ignorance.
Once you have installed WordPress from your WebHost (I use Blue Host (which supports WordPress with one click installation) and have been extremely happy with them — I’m not saying they like idiots, but their support staff have been very patient and always there for me, 24/7). For those of you following along, I am using the default WordPress Theme “Twenty Ten,” but it shouldn’t be too critical which Theme you pick.
WordPress is not perfect, although capable of perfection. And it’s worth the time of the neophyte to get a working, nice looking page, with many options for future expansion and improvements.
Blogging has never been easier, or more challenging, thanks to WordPress. “Consumer” pre-packaged sites are easy, but kind of difficult to customize. WordPress offers a DIY approach that is simple enough to get your blog up and running, but allows powerful modification if you are willing to do a little homework on features like Plug-ins and settings.
For the new blogger, WordPress is doable. You can 1) avoid the coding and make a great site using what is at hand, or 2) learn a little coding and get fussy with the exact layout. WordPress gives you the power to lay out a nice looking site, and start blogging content.
Rocket Science? Or Prairie Dog persistence?
Rocket science has one of two outcomes: 1) the rocket flies, 2) the rocket blows up. Last time we checked, no half blown-up rockets were completing their missions. But web sites are not rocket science; they are prairie dog towns. You can make a site work, and then make a site better, and then grind away toward a more optimized outcome, even when perfection isn’t achieved. A prairie dog, if it keeps digging away, can make a very long tunnel. The trick is to get started.
The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good
WordPress is not perfect, although capable of perfection. And it’s worth the time of the neophyte to get a working, nice looking page, with many options for future expansion and improvements. WordPress works as long as you do. And some of its key features — tags, connectivity, comments, multiple users– are geared for massive monetization. WordPress is as good as you are, and maybe just a little bit better! That’s my conclusion anyway, after working with it for two days.