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5 Helpful Tips for WordPress Beginners

Person editing a WordPress site.

Below are a few beginner tips to get new users started in WordPress. The focus of this post is to provide short answers, rather than exhaustive details. Additionally, this post is focused on website owners who have independently hosted WordPress sites (also called “wordpress.org” sites). Some of these tips will still apply to sites hosted on wordpress.com, but that’s not the focus of this post.

While this is a little too basic to be a tip, I’ll go ahead and mention it because it’s critical. To login to your WordPress site, you can usually append “/admin” to your site’s domain — i.e. www.mydomain.com/admin — and WordPress will direct you to the login URL. If that does not work for you, reach out to your site’s developer to get the correct admin login URL.

We also have tips on other WordPress features and processes, like updating plugins. Click the search bar above to search our posts for more tips. If you need assistance with developing, updating, or maintaining a WordPress website, we would also be happy to help. A few of our services are described on our WordPress Development page. We also have a post that lays out our design process.

1. Pages vs. Posts

WordPress has two primary types of content: pages and posts. While both can be customized to serve a variety of purposes, by default posts are used for creating content in a series, like a blog. Pages are typically used for more general and permanent content, “about” and “contact” pages for example. By default, posts have options to add categories and tags. These allow users to filter posts to content they are interested in. You can also add categories and tags to pages but that requires overriding the default settings, which we’ll cover in a future post.

In a default site, you’ll see pages and posts listed on the left side menu of the admin area. If you don’t see those options or see additional ones, then you likely have a customized site where the developers have repurposed posts to serve other purposes. It’s possible for developers to create multiple versions of posts, with each one designed to house a specific type of content. As an example, a cooking website might have a post series dedicated to recipes and a separate one devoted to equipment reviews. You can ask your developer if you are curious about how posts are used in a custom WordPress site.

2. Create and Edit a Page

The options that pages and posts have vary, but the basic steps for creating both content types remain similar. So, most of what is laid out here also applies to posts.

To create a page:

  • Log in to the admin area of your website.
  • In the admin area, hover over “Pages” and click “Add New.”screenshot showing how to add a new WordPress page
  • See the steps in the next section (“to edit a page”) for how to add content to the page you created.

To edit a page:

  • From the admin area, click “Pages.”
  • Click the page you want to edit from the list of pages shown. Note: If you just added a new page using the steps in the prior section, you can skip this step because you should already be on the edit area of the page you created.
  • The title should be the first piece of content at the top of the page. Click the title to edit it.
  • To edit existing sections (or “blocks,” as WordPress calls them) of content, place your cursor where you want to edit and start typing.
  • When you click into a content block, you’ll see a popup with options. The screenshot below briefly lays out the basic options available in the popup. These options include changing the block’s content type — i.e. if you wanted to change a paragraph to a heading; moving the block relative to other blocks; aligning text (left, right, or center); bolding and italicizing text; and adding links to text. For more details on how to use blocks, check out this helpful post.screenshot with WordPress block options
  • In the right-hand sidebar, you’ll see more options. The options include how to change the page’s featured image (see Tip #4 below); publishing, unpublishing, saving, and deleting the page; the URL slug, and more. If you’re interested in more details, take a look at this post.
  • Before closing the browser or tab you’re working in, make sure to click the “save draft” (for new pages) or “publish” (to make edits live) buttons at the top of the page to save your changes. For new pages, your page won’t be visible to visitors until you click the “publish” button.

3. Add Photos

WordPress offers a few ways to add photos. You can add them from the content you are working on or to your Media library. In addition to images, you can also upload videos, PDFs, spreadsheets, Word documents, and more. This tip focuses on uploading and using photos.

To add photos through the Media library:

screenshot showing how to upload files to wordpress

This screenshot shows the where to add files when uploading through WordPress‘ Media menu. Note that you can either drag and drop into the dotted box or click the “Select Files” button to choose files from your computer.

  • Log in to your website.
  • From the admin area, hover over the “Media” menu option and click “Add New.”
  • On the “Add New” / “Upload New Media” screen (screenshot above), drag and drop photo files into the dotted box or click “Select Files” to upload them from your computer.
  • After you upload an image, click it to open up the image options. You’ll see several blank fields, including one for “Alternative Text.” Make sure to fill this field out. It’s used by screen readers and Google considers it when ranking sites in its search results. Note: WordPress also automatically saves edits you make to the image fields, like the “alternative text” field. To make sure the changes are saved, click out of the field you edited and look for the icon in the upper right to stop spinning and say “saved.”

    screenshot showing how to add alt text to WordPress image

    This shows the alternative text or alt text field. Make sure to give all your images alt text.

  • Text you enter in the caption field will show right below the image, similar to the text above that starts with “This shows the … .”
  • WordPress automatically saves your images as you upload them, so you don’t need to do anything to save the images you upload.
  • The photos you upload via the Media menu will be available in your “Media Library,” when you click “Add Media” to a page or post.

To add photos while editing a page or post:

screenshot showing add media button in WordPress Classic Editor

This screenshot shows how to add images using the Classic Editor. Below is a screenshot with the current WordPress editor, Gutenberg.

  • If you’re using the Classic Editor, place your cursor where you want the image to show. (For more on the difference between the Classic Editor and the newer Gutenberg Editor, check out this post.)
  • Click the “Add Media” button at the top of the text box.
  • Click the “Upload Files” tab.
  • Drag and drop your image to the area or click the “Select Files” button to upload them from your computer.
  • As noted and screenshotted in the previous section, make sure to fill in the “Alternative Text ” field.
Screenshot of how to add an image in WordPress Gutenberg Editor.

This screenshot shows how to add an image using the Gutenberg Editor. The screenshot above shows how to do so with the Classic Editor.

  • If you’re using the Gutenberg Editor, hover over the area where you want to add an image and click the plus icon that appears (screenshot above).
  • In the popup, select “Image.” (If you don’t see the Image option, search for it in the search bar.)
  • In the white box that appears, click the “Upload” button (not shown in screenshot).
  • Select the file from your computer.
  • The image should appear in your content. Click the image to select it. This will bring up additional options in the right sidebar. Add alternative text in the appropriate field. (If you don’t see the field, make sure you’ve selected the “block” tab in the sidebar.)
  • Your image will be saved automatically to your Media library. To save it to the page or post you added it to click “save draft” (for new pages) or “publish.”

4. Update or Add a Featured Image

The WordPress theme you’re using will determine where your featured image shows to visitors. Usually, it will show at the top of the page and, in the case of posts, as a preview in areas that list your posts. However, your featured image typically won’t display in the content you’re editing as an admin user. Instead, it will only show as a thumbnail in the right-hand sidebar.

To change the featured image:

screenshot of how to change a WordPress Featured Image.

This screenshot illustrates several of the steps listed below.

  • Click the “Replace Image” button that shows in the sidebar under the featured image thumbnail. Not seeing the button? First, make sure you’ve selected the “Post” tab at the top of the right-hand sidebar (screenshot above). Second, in the right-hand sidebar, make sure that you click the “Featured Image” section so that it expands to reveal the button (also shown in screenshot). If this is the first time the page or post has had a featured image, click the box with “Set featured image.” 
  • In the popup, you can (a) click an existing image or (b) click the “Upload files” tab in the upper right.
  • If you go with option b, drag your images to the box or click “Select Files” to choose them from your computer. Note: Make sure to add alternative text — process discussed above in the section on uploading images.
  • Your image will be saved automatically to your Media library. To save it to the page or post you added it to click “save draft” (for new pages) or “publish.”

5. Add a Favicon

Screenshot of favicon in browser tab.

This screenshot shows the favicon for our site. It’s the stylized “Z” the arrow points to.

A favicon is the tiny icon that appears in the browser tab (screenshot above). By default, WordPress will leave this blank and the browser will insert something, or WordPress will add its own icon. You can make your site look much more polished and professional if you add your own favicon. It’s easy to do and really adds a level of polish and professionalism to your website.

To add a favicon:

Screenshot showing how to add a favicon to WordPress.To add or change your 

  • Hover over the “Appearance” menu in the admin area and click “Customize.”
  • In the next screen, click “Site Identity.”
  • Click “Select site icon” and add your favicon as shown in the screenshot below (see Tip 3: “Add Photos” for more on how to upload the favicon).
  • If you already have a favicon, click the “Change Image” button to add a new one.
  • Click “Publish” to save your changes.

Hopefully you found these tips helpful! Please let us know if you have a question, see something we’ve missed, or would like help with your WordPress site. We are happy to help.

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