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How to get the most from your WordPress site

WordPress is the most popular CMS and it's used by many of our clients. Get to know a little more about your WordPress site with topics ranging from from creating posts, to customizing your UI, to upping your security.


A woman seated at a desk is facing her laptop. The laptop is open to the WordPress page editing screen.

The Basics

There are a few basic skills that an average WordPress user should know:

  • Creating a page or post
  • Adding content
  • Using media

Pages and Posts

The difference:

  • Posts are used for blog content and are organized by categories and tags
  • Pages are used for general site content and are organized by hierarchy

Classic Editor & The WYSIWYG

Wysiwyg is an acronym for “what you see is what you get”. Many of our clients are using the Classic Editor which primarily relies on the wysiwyg for adding content. The wysiwyg is a very powerful field for adding content, you can create and style your content similar to how you would in a document editor such as Microsoft Word or Pages.

Featured Image

One thing that is often overlooked when adding content to pages and posts is the featured image. This image is frequently overlooked because it will not appear in the body content and it is located on the sidebar of the editing screen. It will appear in search results & social sharing, along with the page or post excerpt. Having a featured image will make your website link stand out among basic text results.

Media Library

If you’re adding any content to your site other than text, you will need to be familiar with the Media Library. The Media Library allows you to add, store, and access all of your files. You can store and use images, videos, audio, and documents of many types. Most users are primarily storing and using images. The Media Library provides some powerful image attributes that allow you to add a title, caption, description and alt text directly from the library, rather than having to edit these within the code. These attributes will be automatically pulled into the site whenever the image is used. This is especially helpful for alt text, which should be provided for all images on your site.

Gutenberg

Gutenberg is wordpress's latest editor that was launched in December of 2018. It's the largest update to wordpress we have had in a while. Everything is a block–paragraphs, images, lists, etc.–which makes Gutenberg a more intuitive experience where what you see in the editor is more or less what you will see on the frontend. It benefits both developers and everyday WordPress users making it great for beginners.

Previously if you wanted to do more than just simple text or alignment editing you would need to know some basic html/css or a third party plugin to get what you wanted. Now Gutenberg offers these blocks and functionality right out of the box. Within Gutenberg, you can drag & drop elements, create custom layouts, reusable blocks, and crop, rotate, and zoom right in the editor.

ACF - Custom Blocks

Advanced Custom Fields is a plugin that allows you to add extra content to the WordPress edit screen. This plugin is primarily used by developers to add custom content to your site with an easily editable user interface.

ACF Blocks

  • These are essentially custom Gutenberg blocks
  • They allow you more control over content at the post level
  • We are able to add a variety of fields onto a specific custom block
  • The fields are chosen based on the needs of the client
  • From here developers are able to attach code to the selected fields for a truly custom solution

The possibilities here are endless. We can create blocks that are unique to your situation and are easily editable when need be. We are able to add a variety of fields onto a specific custom block, and the fields can be chosen based on your needs. Once the fields are selected, we're able to attach code to the field for a variety of custom solutions.

Plugin Tips

The WordPress plugin ecosystem can be confusing - but there are some simple tips you can follow that apply well to any plugin. There are over 40,000 plugins on wordpress.org (not all plugins are available on wordpress.org). There is a mix of free, paid, subscription plugins from many plugin contributors - from large companies, to single developers.

When looking to use a plugin solution, it is important to research before installing anything – examine your needs first. Make sure to check:

  • Does it have good reviews?
  • Bad reviews?
  • Lots of installs?
  • Compatible with your version of WordPress?
  • Recently updated?

A plugin with lots of installs is a good sign, but doesn't necessarily mean it's 100% safe.

Keep in mind that every plugin you add to your site increases the complexity and can potentially impact the performance and security of your site. A plugin may do one or two things you need, but also have a dozen features you don't need. If your needs are simple, sometimes a custom solution or plugin makes more sense than installing a bloated plugin that does more than you need.

It is a good idea to disable and remove any old or unused plugins. Disabled plugins won't affect your site, however the files are still on the server, if you aren’t going to use the plugin you should alway uninstall it.

Security

Security best practices

Upgrade from PHP 5.6

  • 5.6 is not getting security Updates (as of 2018)
  • Current version is 7.4 - Any version over 7.0 is recommended.
    Update WordPress
  • Current version of WordPress is 5.8 (8/23/2021)
  • Various plugins receive regular updates

Login Security

  • Change your default login path (the default path is [your-site]/wp-login.php, using this path can leave you open to brute force attacks)
  • Avoid Common login names (i.e.: "admin")
  • Use complex passwords
  • Install the plugin, All In One WordPress Security and Firewall

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