People are more likely to look at a site, explore it, maybe even buy something from it, if there is evidence that the site has recently been updated with something new. If someone looks at a page and notices a bit of text somewhere that is dated three or five or fifteen years ago, their attention disintegrates. This has only been encouraged by the constant instant gratification that people have increasingly taken for granted. It’s not enough for it to be from this year, or this month.
If the newest thing on your site is older than that expired milk still sitting in your fridge, then your site may give the impression that your business is also expired. So it’s important to come back to your site at least every couple weeks, and add some information about the latest promotion, a new featured item, or even just a blog post about how your dog helps out around the office. But a lot of sites tend to get dusty and dated because their owners aren’t comfortable with changing anything, or don’t understand how to add new content. That’s why we build just about all of our sites with the WordPress content management system. We don’t just want a customer to have a pretty snazzy site; we want them to be able to easily add new stuff without having to get a web developer to do it for you. Otherwise, it would be a bit like having to have a mechanic drive your car anytime you wanted to get around.
So, let’s take a look at how to create new pages and posts for your WordPress site. If you have a WordPress site, then this should give you a bit of confidence, by showing just how simple the process is. If you don’t have a WordPress site, then perhaps this article will help you understand why updating to WordPress or another CMS isn’t just a matter of matter of making it look prettier; you might say, “Yeah, it’s a few years old, but our customers can still use it just fine.” But it’s not enough for customers to be able to use a site–they need to want to use a site, to be curious about what’s on it. For this to happen, you have to grow and develop your site, and constantly add new things to it.
So, this post is targeted exactly at those of you who have been nervous about adding a new page to their site, or who have yet to start their blog up. It might be a bit intimidating, but it’s important. That’s why we’re going to walk you through how to use that danged WordPress thing, step by step.
First off, what’s the difference between a post and a page on WordPress?
While creating posts and pages is very, very similar in WordPress, they tend to play different roles. When you are creating a piece of content that discusses a major facet of your business–for example, you build swimming pools, and so you want to have three pages or so that discuss each of the different types of pools you build–then you want to create pages. Pages will usually be linked to directly from your site’s main menu. They are meant to be the visible face of your business. If you look at the pages on our site–basically, anything not in our blog–just about all of it is fairly formal in tone. It’s not necessarily the textual equivalent of a suit, tie, and freshly shined shoes, but… it’s at least wearing a polo shirt and fresh jeans. We keep the joshing around to a minimum.
On the other hand, things that are more fun, casual, or tightly focused, are usually appropriate for WordPress posts. Posts usually have a more conversational, casual tone. They may be a “how to” article (like this blog post), details on the next lunch special your restaurant is offering, or a recounting of your office’s epic Nerf battle last Friday between the engineers and the marketing department. Your blog posts are still part of the public face of your business, so you certainly don’t want to offend anyone. But your blog might be where you let yourself wear shorts and flip-flops and have some small talk with your customers.
The other difference between these two types of content is that posts will automatically show up in the blog section of your WordPress site, while pages require you to create a menu link to them, or a link from other pages or posts. Otherwise, nobody will be able to find your new page. Okay, so that brings us to actually creating posts and pages.
How do you start a new blog post or page in WordPress?
First of all, you have to have logged into your site so that you can edit it–the login page is usually www.mybizsite.com/wp-admin (insert your site before that last wp-admin bit). You’ll know you’re logged in when you see a black bar at the top. with a little WordPress logo in the top left corner.
Now, let’s get to business. Creating blog posts and site pages are extremely similar processes in WordPress. And WordPress makes it pretty easy to create either of those. In fact, there are a few different ways to start off, but let’s just cover two of them. The first method assumes that you’re already looking at the ‘Dashboard,’ which is where you can access most of the bells and whistles in your site. Now, see the below.
There is another way of doing this, which is a bit of a shortcut, because you can do it from any page on your site as long as you’re logged in. That black bar at the top of each page gives you quick access to a few different commonly used features in WordPress–two of those being for creating new pages, and new posts. Take a look below for that shortcut. I’ll catch up with you in a second.
Either way you do it, you’re going to end up on one of the two screens seen above. As you can probably tell, the setup for writing a webpage or a blog post look pretty much identical to one another. The only differences you’ll see are going to be in the sidebar on the right side, and the menu on the left side will differ very slightly. If your web person added plugins to WordPress that add extra features to the post/page editor, then you might see some other minor differences. But the meat of the thing is exactly the same. See below to look at what you’ll spend 95% of your time looking at while waiting for your brain to cough up some words.
There it is, in all of its magnificence. Well, almost. The first thing you’ll want to do right from the get-go is hit the toolbar toggle button highlighted above. That gives you access to a few more options that’ll come in handy. Once you’ve engaged that, WordPress should remember to have that showing by default, so you won’t have to mess with it again. Anyways, now your toolbar will have another row of buttons to play with, and you’ll be ready to get down to business.
Creating a title for your WordPress page or post
Okay. Now we’re ready to go. The first thing you’re going to want to do is give your post or page a title, where it says oh-so-helpfully, “Enter title here.” Now, whatever you title the page is what’s going to show up as the title of the page in a visitor’s browser, and if the post shows up in a search result on Google or another search engine, that’s the title that will be displayed. For instance, a previous blog that I titled “What Bad SEO Looks Like – Content Spinning,” shows up on Google like this:
The takeaway is, you’ll want to give your post a title that summarizes your content well. If you’re targeting specific keywords, you’ll definitely want the main one or two keywords incorporated in the title somewhere. (A bit of technical stuff that you don’t need to know–in the HTML file that WordPress generates for your posts and pages, whatever you’ve set as the title will be given “h1” tags–it’ll be the “Heading 1” title that search engines and browsers will use.) Search engines will look very closely at H1 text in particular to figure out what your page is about). You can always go back and edit your title later, even years after you’ve posted it on your page, if you really want (though I don’t know that I’d recommend that), so don’t sweat it too much.
Now that you’ve given the post a name (in my case, “My First Post”), go ahead and click in that big blank white text box beneath what kinda looks like the Microsoft Word toolbar. Type some words in, but before you go on, hold up. Scoot your eyes back up a bit, and look at the area below your post’s title.
Out of nowhere, that “Permalink” thing just popped up. What’s happening is that WordPress will automatically generate a URL for each page that you write. Nowadays, it’s considered proper form for the words in the URL to reflect what a page is about (it used to be sites would have URLs that looked like www.mysite.com/ihork/wat332mh.html…), and it’s another bit of assistance for search engines. Now, if you happen to change the title of your post later, or just want to change it, you can edit the URL. Just click the “Edit” button between the URL and the “View Post” button. The end of the URL (everything after the .com or .net or .whatever bit) will turn into a little text box with a cursor. Go ahead and delete or type whatever you want. Don’t use spaces between words. Use dashes (the key to the right of the number keys).
Once you’re done, hit the “OK” button to the right. It’ll spin its wheels for a second, and then the white box will go away, and your new URL will show up and you’re good to go.
The formatting toolbar
Okay. NOW we can get down to business. If you’ve used any sort of word processor, such as Microsoft Word, a lot of the buttons in the toolbar should be familiar. Bold, italics,
- bullet points,
- numbered lists,
…And a lot of other things like text alignment work just the same as they do in other programs. (In fact, most keyboard shortcuts, like Ctrl+I, Ctrl+B, Ctrl+Z, etc. work just fine.) The only pain, of course, is that the buttons are probably in different spots than you’re used to. If you’re really unsure as to what a button does, just hover your mouse over it. A little bit of explanatory text will pop up over the button, telling you what it is. For instance:
There are a lot of things you can figure out by experimenting, but I will take a moment to explain a few toolbar items that you’ll be using a lot, and aren’t necessarily all that obvious. For instance…
What if you want to make a heading or subheading in WordPress (like this line)?
There are a number of different heading sizes available for you to choose from. Just click on the little dropdown box on the left side of the toolbar that currently says “Paragraph,” and you’ll see a number of options drop down:
“Paragraph” is what you’ll use by default when you’re writing posts. That’s your normal font. Now, for headings, you won’t want to use “Heading 1” (also referred to as “H1”) because there should only be one H1 heading on any page, and your page’s title is already set as the “Heading 1” (remember those H1 tags we talked about in the “making a title” section?). Normally, for headings within posts, you’ll want to use “Heading 2.” All of the bits of big text in this blog post are Heading 2s. If you’ve got a really convoluted article with a lot of structured content that necessitates lots of headings, subheadings, and sub-sub-sub-sub-headings to keep it all straight, then you might make use of the other, smaller headings just to keep track of the hierarchy of topics in your post. But for the most part, H2 is it.
The other thing I want to highlight in the main toolbar is the “Paste as text” option. If you’re copying over some text from a Microsoft Word document, or another website, you won’t want to just paste it straight into whatever you’re writing. You’ll end up getting a lot of weird formatting issues (font sizes, bolding, alignment, etc.) and other garbage that may mess up how your page looks. Before you paste something in, click on the small dark clipboard with the “T” on it:
The first time you do this, you’ll get a big pop-up box that will explain what the option does. Basically, when you have that option enabled, anything that you copy and paste into your post will be pasted as plain text, meaning that things like italics, bolding, underlining, fonts, etc., will be stripped out of it. Then you can go and use the WordPress toolbar options to format the text however you like. It can be a pain if you’re pasting in a bullet point list or something with a lot of formatting, because you’ll have to go back and redo all of it, but this will most likely save you from other headaches in the long run.
Time to add some pictures to your WordPress post!
Everyone likes pictures on their pages. Especially if they’re pictures of cats. Or food. All right, so if you want to add a picture to your page, first take your mouse and put the text cursor where you want your image to end up being. Now, click on the big “Add Media” button in the top left of the toolbar:
That’ll bring up a really big pop-up screen. Initially, it will display all the images that you have uploaded to your site for other pages. If it’s one of those images you want to use, just select the one you want and hit the “Insert into post” button in the bottom right corner. But chances are, you want to add a new photo. In that case, click on the tab towards the top that says “Upload Files.”
That’ll bring up a huge white box that looks like this:
Now you have a couple options. If you’ve got the image file you want sitting on your desktop or in a folder somewhere, and you can get your browser window out of the way, you can just click and hold on the file, and drag it onto your browser screen. The entire “Drop files…” screen will turn blue. Release the mouse, and in a few seconds, your image will be uploaded. If instead you choose click the “Select Files” button, you’ll be given a little dialog box in which you can navigate through the folders on your computer. Find the find the file you want, hit OK, and it will upload.
You’ll then be brought back to the “Insert Media” popup you were looking at a minute ago, except that the picture that you just uploaded will be outlined in red. Go ahead and hit “Insert into post,” and your image will now be on the page! If you want, you can make some additional tweaks now that you’ve placed your image. If you click on the image, a little menu bar will pop out of the very top of it:
The first four buttons will change the image’s alignment: (1) align left with text wraparound, (2) align center, with no text wraparound, (3) align right with no text wraparound, and (4) no alignment, which just slams the image against the left side, with no text wrapping around it. Experiment with the options, and you’ll get the hang of it.
Now, the fifth option, the one that looks like a pencil, can do a few things. What I use it for, 99% of the time, is to add a caption. If you look at some of the earlier images in this post, they have small text immediately under the image. This is image caption text, which is usually meant as an aside that gives a bit of additional explanation about the image, or that gives credit to whomever the image was borrowed from (or just to add stupid comments in order to entertain myself). If you click the pencil, a big dialog box will pop up. What you want is the white text box at the top labeled “Caption.” Type whatever you want in there, and then hit the blue “Update” button on the bottom right. The caption will be added to your image.
The last option all the way to the right of the image toolbar, the “X,” does what you might think it does–it deletes the image from the page. That’s all. Okay, one last thing regarding toolbar stuff…
Making (Hyper)Links to Things
Awwww yes. This is the good stuff. All right, so the first thing you want to do is to highlight the text that you want to turn into a link: click your mouse at one end of the text, drag to the other end, and release. When you do so, you should see the button that looks like a picture of a link in a chain go from being grayed out to, um… saturated? Anyway, it gets darker.
Now you can actually click the link button. Go ahead and click on it. In the box that pops up, paste the link you want to use into the line titled “URL.” In the “Title” box, you can create a title that will pop up if someone hovers their mouse over your link. This can be helpful if it’s not super obvious to the reader as to where your link is going to take them. If you want the link to open in a new browser tab, rather than take them away from your page, check the box below that.
Alternatively, if you want to link to a page on your own site, use the search box down below. You can search for all the pages and blog posts that exist on your site, even ones that you’ve never linked to before. If you select one of those, the URL and Title boxes will both be filled in automatically. Hit “Add Link,” and boom, you’ve got a link.
If you want to edit your link, just place your text cursor anywhere in the bit of text that you’ve linkified, and hit that chain link button again. The link dialog box will pop up with all the information you previously entered, and you can make your changes. Also, if you look at that the above, you’ll notice that to the right of the link button, there’s a button that looks like a chain link blowing up. That’s the “Remove Link” button. If you want to get rid of a link, click anywhere in a link you’ve created, and then click that button to remove it.
Okay, so let’s get to the last couple really important things…
Saving posts and pages, and publishing them on your WordPress site
Just like when you’re typing up a document in Word, it’s always a good idea to save your progress occasionally. To do so, look all the way to the top right of your browser window. There’s a box labeled “Publish” (not the blue button, the title at the top of that box). In order to save your progress without actually making the post visible, just hit the “Save Draft” button. Notice that below the “Save Draft” button, there’s a line that says “Status: Draft.” As long as your page is in draft mode, that means it isn’t visible to site visitors. But it is saved so you can leave the page and come back to it later.
If you want to see what your post will look like on your site, hitting the “Preview” button will pop open a new tab with a finished preview of your post. The preview mode is a good way to catch formatting errors. Also, after you’ve finished a post, go ahead and save a draft of it, and then hit the preview button again. Occasionally, you’ll get an extra empty line between images and the text above or below them. Why? Dunno. It’s just a quirk of WordPress, for whatever reason. The preview mode makes these sneaky extra spaces a lot easier to see. Then you can go back and delete those blank lines.
Now, if you want to publish your post or page, meaning that you want to make it so that visitors (and search engines) can see the page, go ahead and hit that big blue “Publish” button that’s a little ways below the “Save Draft” and “Preview” buttons.
Boom. It’s live. If it’s a blog post, it should show up in your blog feed. If it’s a page, you can now link to it from other pages, or add a link to it in your site’s menu (more on that another day).
If you need to unpublish the page (you didn’t mean to publish it, you’re getting rid of the page, etc), just go back to the page in edit mode and look at the Publish box in the top right. Look for a line where it says, “Status: Published.” Hit the blue “Edit” link to the right of it. This will show a little dropdown selection box thingy. Click on it, then click on “Draft.” Then press the “OK” button to confirm it. Now it’ll be back to draft mode, where nobody can see it (and FYI, any links you’ve created to it on other pages or blog posts will now be broken).
Congratulations! You’ve now made a blog post, or even a new page for your site! Now… keep doing it! Over and over and over and…
Okay, I think I’ve worn out everybody’s patience on this topic, including mine. If you have any questions about anything in this post, please feel free to post a comment, or contact us using our contact form. Now go start adding new content to your site!