WordPress - what it is

WordPress is an [excellent] tool for managing content. If you need to add a page to your site, write a new post about the latest news, upload new photos, or update an ever-changing event calendar, WordPress is a solid and simple way to do all the above, without fiddling with code, and with a variety of ways to organize and present your content built-in.

If you're completely new to WordPress, the place to start is the WordPress crew's First Steps with WordPress. Below, you'll find introductions and links to detailed documentation for major tasks in managing your site.

Admin Panel - manage site

The admin panel controls your site and your blog, giving you point-and-click access to every WordPress feature: change the appearance of your pages, configure plugin features, and, most importantly, easily write and upload text and pictures. Your site's admin panel is available at your URL, followed by /wp-admin/. So if your site is example.com, the admin panel can be found at:

http://example.com/wp-admin/

The WordPress team and community have provided extensive documentation for the base WordPress admin panel. It's one of the first places to look if you're fairly new to the blogging process, or to managing your site with a content management tool like WordPress.

Themes - control site appearance

You can find lots of looks for your WordPress-based site by visiting the official theme repository at the WordPress project, and at several other places around the net. Try a google search for wordpress themes to get an idea of the choices, which range from free themes you can download and use or modify, to services that provide theme design and/or integration.

To use a new theme, first download it from the theme site. Themes are usually packaged as a .zip file. When the download completes, open the zip file to expand its contents. This will typically result in a folder with the same name as the theme file you downloaded. Use FTP to upload the decompressed theme folder to your site, at the location:

public_html/wp-content/themes/yourthemefolder

Once it's uploaded, you should be able to choose the theme in the admin panel under Design | Themes and immediately see the new look on your site. If you need more information on uploading external files to your WordPress site with FTP, or on FTP client options, the FTP documentation in the WordPress Codex is a good place to go from here.

WordPress is not a web design tool. Switching from one existing theme to another and back again is one-click easy. However, creating and modifying themes is more involved, and WordPress is equipped with only very basic tools for theme editing.

If you need a custom theme design that doesn't already exist somewhere in the world, your visual design must be programmed into the code of a WordPress theme. There is lots of documentation available about how to modify and create themes. If you're not a programmer, Utopian.net Leitmotif translates visual designs into WordPress themes.

Plugins - add site features

The process for adding WordPress plugins is similar to that described above for installing a new theme, except new plugin folders should be uploaded via FTP to your site at the location:

public_html/wp-content/plugins/yourpluginfolder

The WordPress project's official plugin repository has hundreds of useful community-developed plugins available to extend and customize WordPress. Common plugins provide search engine optimization, integration with popular social networking sites like flickr, facebook, twitter, and others, and tools for things like podcasting, or showing your instant messaging presence. There is a wide selection.

URL Choices - control site location

Anyone on the internet can visit your site by going to either of http://example.com or http://www.example.com. You can choose whether your site prefers the optional "www" part of your URL. If you want the "www" to be visible, add it to both the WordPress address and Blog address URL settings In the admin panel under Settings | General. By default, your site will prefer the name http://example.com, without the www.

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