In WordPress Web Design for Dummies Part I we discussed how WP sites can be used easily by anyone – even people with no prior knowledge of this program. Please see Part I of the series to learn about the actual WP installation, the GUI (Graphic User Interface) or dashboard, and the theme or “skin” of the website. In this second article in the series we’ll discuss the additional functions of WordPress sites as well as the content management feature of the WP platform.
The primary navigation of a WP-based website is often based on a default menu that simply pulls from the pages or posts that have been published on the site. This is a lazy way to build a menu; most people use the menu feature in the Appearance section of the dashboard.
The great thing about web design with WordPress is that your menu can consist of more than just pages – it can consist of posts, categories and tags. This allows for an awesome diversity in your ability to allow visitors to find and consume the content on your site.
Custom menus can also be created using widgets in the sidebar, which is discussed below in the widgets section.
Plugins give WordPress web designers and users extended capabilities and functionalities for their sites. A plugin can allow you to install Google Analytics to track website traffic, advertising programs to run ads on your site, video, music and game players, SEO-related plugins and much more. There are thousands of free plugins available and many paid premium types as well.
Widgets are displayed in the header, footer, sidebars and other areas of your site and serve to significantly expand the look, feel and functionality of the site. Many widget functions actually pull from plugins that have been setup on the site. This includes featuring ads in the sidebars such as Google Adsense, or creating custom menus using a text editor to lead visitors to supplemental areas of your site.
Widgets can be complicated and involve complex forms, or they can be simple such as date, time and weather displays. And because of the ease of use of the built in WP dashboard, you can easily manipulate widgets to your liking.
The pages of your website are generally static and completely distinct from posts. Many people setup their WP site to showcase posts on the home page, but many also put the posts page in another area and use the home page as a static landing or welcome page.
The pages of your site should be just as content rich as your posts and other content when possible, as they will play a pivotal role in the rankings your site achieves with various search engines. In order to aid in this effort, many web masters and site owners use SEO plugins to help the search engines index and rank the site properly.
Pages can be listed as part of a hierarchy or they can be stand alone, and you can setup the site’s menus to show all pages, or you can hide as many as you want and only make them available through other sections of the site, or from private links if you’d like.
Pages allow the inclusion of a dynamic range of media-rich content, including videos, text, images, graphics, flash displays, music, charts and graphs, forms, games and pretty much anything you can think of.
In the next and final installment in this series, we’ll talk about the heart and soul of most WordPress websites: posts, tags and categories. But if you need to get a WP site published right now, then you need expert help to ensure that your site is published exactly as you want it. In fact, some WordPress designers can get your site up and running faster and cheaper than you probably think. Call one now to find out for yourself.
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