wordpress-tips-for-beginnersWhen you get started using the WordPress content management system it may seem a bit confusing for beginners, or you may even be wondering what the big deal is and why it is so popular. Well, that’s because there are many layers to this CMS and many complex features to discover. This short guide will go through a few of the basics that many new users ignore.


Categories and Tags

New users are often tempted to create too many categories, when they should actually be using more tags instead. Most sites should have less than 10 categories, but could have hundreds of tags. As a rough example, if you are creating a news blog your categories could include: politics, sports, entertainment, etc. These are very general topics. When you have something more specific that your readers may want to focus on, use tags such as NFL, NCAA, and similar terms that will allow people to narrow their search.

If your theme is not displaying the list of tags in your sidebar menu (or elsewhere if desired) you can enable the tag cloud in the Appearance > Widgets section of your dashboard.

Don’t Go Crazy with Plugins

Using plugins is definitely a good thing; they can save you time, make your site run more efficiently, or just add extra functionality that the default WordPress installation does not have. You should not go overboard when installing plugins though, and be particularly careful about installing a whole bunch of them at the same time.

Every plugin that you install will place stress on your server, by using more memory and CPU, and some plugins just don’t work well with each other. Try to use well-known and popular plugins (as indicated by their ratings and number of installations, which you can see in the plugins list) because these are more likely to be optimized to run efficiently without using too much of your server resources.

Finding an Appropriate Theme

The default theme that comes with a new WordPress installation is boring, and it is not recommended for use as is. It is basically a blank canvas that allows you to edit and build around the basic structure that it provides, but editing your own theme can be rough for a beginner. You should keep a WordPress cheat sheet handy if you plan on making modifications or creating a whole new theme yourself.

Take some time to browse through the thousands of free themes available and install a few that you like (you may want to start with the most popular WordPress themes list). Try your favorites by installing and enabling them to see how they work.

Back Up Your Site Regularly

If you write all of your posts directly in the WordPress admin, you will have no other copy to restore your work from if anything goes wrong. You can either manually back up your database whenever you like, or search the available plugins for a backup solution. Some can back up your work to services such as Dropbox or even email a copy to you according to a schedule.

The last tip to remember for now is that there is always help available online. WordPress is so popular that there are thousands of websites and tutorials available to help you accomplish just about anything you can think of.