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10 WordPress Terms All Authors Should Know

wordpress-logoWordPress has become the content management system of choice for a large majority of author websites. But WordPress also comes with a language all its own. If you’re just getting started on this journey, here are 10 terms you may hear or see in regards to your site – in alphabetical order — and what each one means.

1. Dashboard
Your dashboard is the first page that you see when you log into WordPress. It’s kind of like your own homepage. It generally includes essential information about your work on your site (number of posts, etc…), recent comments and activity, as well as general WordPress news.

2. Media
Ah, the media library. This is where all of your photos, videos, illustrations or downloadable PDFs would be housed. So, for example, if you want to add a downloadable PDF (a press kit, for example) to a page on your site, you would upload it to the media section and then set up a link to that form of media from the appropriate page. You would also go to media to find any previous photos that you may have uploaded.

3. Pages
These are pretty much what they sound like. WordPress “Pages” refers to the actual pages on your site –your home page, your about page, your book page, etc… Simply go into the pages section to make changes to any page on your site. What’s important to note, though is that pages are different from posts (below).

4. Plug-ins

WordPress is, in many ways, a compilation of plug-ins. Each plug-in is a feature that does something to the site. Do you have a contact form? That’s a plug-in. How about a photo gallery, a calendar, an email sign-up box, or something that is supposed to help with SEO? Those are all plug-ins. In other words, any features on your site beyond simple design and text is the result of a plug-in, and there are thousands and thousands of them available in WordPress. They can do practically anything you need.

5. Posts
This is a source of confusion. People often don’t know the difference between pages and posts. And that’s understandable. So, to clarify, a post is a specific blog entry. Almost everything else on your site is a page. So your “pages” might be Home, About, Contact and Blog. That blog page would be a compilation of your blog posts. So you’d go to pages to update, say, your About page; you’d go to posts to add or update individual blog posts. Make sense?

6. Settings
The bread and butter of your author website sits in “settings.” This is where your site title lives, the URL is set, and the primary email address associated with your account resides. If you ever want to make administrative changes to your site, this is where you do it. But be forewarned: a simple change – like a one character adjustment to the URL in settings – could completely break your site. So use settings wisely.

7. Themes
WordPress designs are based on themes. Each of those themes includes a basic structure and color scheme. You can then adjust those themes to incorporate your own images, adjust the colors, create a menu, and (of course) enter your own content. There are hundreds of WordPress themes currently available, and your design will probably be based on one of them.

8. Updates
Ah, updates. If you’ve had a WordPress site before, you’ve probably gotten notifications on your dashboard that there are updates that need to be run. This happens frequently in WordPress. Ultimately, these updates need to be run to keep your site current and to keep it protected. However, we’ve had instances in which updates can cause problems on a site. So make sure to have a tech person on call whenever you run them.

9. Users
Did you know that you can set up multiple users on your WordPress site? Yup, that’s what the “users” tab in WordPress is for. So if, for example, you want to have guest bloggers posting on your site, you can set them up as additional users with blogging rights. They would then have their own login into WordPress and would be allowed to do as much or as little as you give them the rights to do. If you have a technical person who you turn to for WordPress help, they should be a user on your site with administrative rights.

10. Widgets
Have you ever noticed that in the right hand column of your site, or across the footer, there are various boxes? Those boxes might include blog feeds, a newsletter sign-up area, or a picture of your book cover and a “buy” link. Those are all considered “widgets,” short for “widgetized areas.” In other words, those are like “plug and play” boxes that offer special features in their own segments of the page.

There you go! Enjoy the new and exciting world of WordPress!

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