WordPress Walkthrough

Update: Dec 3rd, 2009

Before You Start This Walkthrough

Plan!Take a little time and decide things like:

  • What is the purpose of your site? Is it a professional site? A personal site? A Blog? A gallery of your works? A place for you and your colleagues to share ideas and information? (The list is endless…)
  • Who is your target “audience”? The World? The College? The United States? Your Family?
  • What do you want to put on your site? Collected art work? Stories? Poetry? Musings? Photography? Videos? Music?
  • Do you want your site to be exciting or calming? Bright, brash colors? Soothing earth tones? Happy colors? Sad?
  • Do you want your site to organized or free-fall? Hierarchical? Stream of Consciousness? Organic?

More than almost anywhere else, “form follows function” on a the Web. WordPress provides numerous opportunities to select preferences for display: there are a number of themes to choose from; there are color schemes to consider; there are one, two and three column displays; there are photo/image centric displays and text-centric displays. Each choice you make in these areas sends a message to your reader. Because WordPress is so easy to use and customize, it doesn’t take much to get lost in a forest of functionality and lose the guiding purpose of your site.

The web is predominantly a visual environment. It works best when your goals and your visual design choices are all sending the same message.

So. Please take some time and plan out what you want to do and how you want it to look. Make list. Make a sketch. Make an outline of how you want your pages and posts to relate to each other.

It will be much easier to do this work before you start creating content rather than after you have twenty or thirty-something pages created that all need to be changed, one at a time.

Are you going for this:
Or this?
Or this? 


Getting Started

Accessing Your Site

Go to Colby’s WordPress System 
upfingerLog in using your Colby username and password
Your placeolder site will be displayed
Don’t be dismayed that the placeholder title is called a “Blog”. Remember that WordPress was initially designed as blogging software – so the default is to name every site created a “Blog”. You can change this as one of the first things you do.
upfinger Click on
“Site Admin”


The Administration Panel

The Administration Panel has three sections that you will be working with:


  • The Header
    The Header is the shaded strip at the top of the page. On the left, you will see the name of your blog and a “View Site” button that will take you back to your site. On the right, you will see a Favorites Menu of common tasks, your name (When clicked takes you to your profile settings page.), and the Log Out button. (Ignore the “Turbo” button, it is not installed on Colby WordPress MU.)
  • The Navigation Menu
    The left side of the screen holds the Navigation Menu. This is a listing of functions and features you will be using. At the very top, you will see the “Dashboard”. This view is currently displayed in the image above. The “My Blogs” link takes you to a listing of your blogs. The following menu items can be expanded or collapsed by clicking on the down-arrow that is to the right of each menu item. This arrow is hidden until you hover your mouse pointer over the title of the item.

    Expanded Collapsed Icons
    WP-WT-4 WP-WT-3  icons
  • The Work Area
    The Work Area is in the center of your screen. When you click on any Navigation Menu item, the features and functions available to you related to that item will display in this area. In the current image, the Work Area for the Dashboard is displayed.

The Dashboard

The Dashboard displays information about your site. It tells you howmany pages and posts and comments you have.  It tells you what Widgets you have installed and what version of WordPress your are running. From here, you jump into the functional areas of the WordPress Administrative Panel.

The Order of Things…

This is a “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” type of question. We could start talking about posts and pages and then move on to themes and widgets; or we could first talk about themes and widgets and then move on to posts and pages. It probably is a matter of personal preference. We have chosen to talk about themes and widgets first because many themes predetermine how your posts and pages will be displayed. It would be possible to get all your posts and pages created and then choose a theme or widget that would force you to re-design.

(The following section of tutorial content is based heavily on the WordPress Codex at http://codex.wordpress.org/Administration_Panels#Settings_-_Configuration_Settings)

Defining Your General Settings

Let us start at the bottom. settingsWay at the very bottom of the Navigation Menu, is the “Settings Menu”. 

Here you will find all the settings that define your blog as a whole. They effect how your site behaves, how you interact with your site, and how the rest of the world interacts with your site.


The General subpanel defines the most basic configuration settings for your site: the title and location, who may register on your blog, and how dates and times are calculated and displayed.


This subpanel controls your interface for writing new posts. They control such things as the size of the ‘post box’, the default Category, the default Link Category, default image sizes, and the optional Post-via email feature.


The settings in the Settings Reading SubPanel are few in number, but still important. You can decide if you want posts, or a “static” Page, displayed as your blog’s front (main) page. You can also adjust how many posts are displayed on that main page. In addition, you can adjust syndication feed features to determine how the information from your site is sent to a reader’s web browser or other applications.


The Settings Discussion SubPanel allows you to control settings concerning incoming and outgoing comments, pingbacks and trackbacks. You can also control from this SubPanel the circumstances under which your blog sends you e-mail notifying you about the goings on at your site, and you can decide if your blog should show Avatars and their ratings.


The Settings Media SubPanel allows you to determine where images, documents, and other media files will be linked to when inserted into the body of a post and to specify the maximum dimensions in pixels to use when inserting an image into the body of a post.


The Settings Privacy SubPanel controls your blog visibility to search engines such as Google and Technorati. You can decide if you would like your blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers. If you don’t want your blog available to the search engines you can block search engines, but allow normal visitors to see your site.


For a nice introduction to Permalinks, check out the Pretty Permalinks section of Introduction to Blogging. But briefly, and to quote the Settings Permalinks SubPanel itself:

By default WordPress uses web URLs which have question marks and lots of numbers in them, however WordPress offers you the ability to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives. This can improve the aesthetics, usability, and forward-compatibility of your links.

This Settings Permalinks SubPanel controls how that custom URI structure is defined. For a more in depth description of the way this structure is specified, see the Using Permalinks article.


WordPress has so many features, that some of them defy categorization. Features like file uploads, link tracking and support for custom “hacks” can be controlled from the Settings Miscellaneous SubPanel.

Selecting a Theme for Your Site


Choosing and Displaying Widgets


Creating and Editing Posts


Creating and Editing Pages


Advanced Features

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