WordPress Tutorial: The Definitive Guide for Beginners (May 2018)

(Last Updated On: May 17, 2018)

A few years ago, while I was interested to learn WordPress, I could not find the right WordPress Tutorial for me. I think you also may have encountered the situation like me. Because there are no great WordPress Tutorials for free.   After spending more time on WordPress, I have been able to learn WordPress and today I can say that I am WordPress Theme developer and Plugin developer.

I want to share my WordPress knowledge to a lot of newbies who want to work in WordPress field in future so that they would understand WordPress very easily because I don’t want them to spend a lot of time to learn like me.

The very first step who want to make their career in WordPress is to understand WordPress and it’s architecture. If you can’t understand the basic WordPress, then how do you become the developer like me? So from this WordPress Tutorial article, you will understand about WordPress and will able to install WordPress on your computer and play with all of the features of WordPress easily.

Let me start this WordPress Tutorial article:

What is WordPress?

For the newbies, when they search the term ‘WordPress’, they are likely to go to WordPress.com. And they start to think that WordPress means WordPress.com. I think you also may have gone to WordPress.com when you first searched the term’WordPress’ on Google and other search engines.

But did you feel that WordPress means WordPress.com?

In the beginning, there is no doubt about it. Because everyone gets confused in the beginning. I also have thought WordPress means WordPress.com at first.

But in fact, WordPress does not mean WordPress.com. If you still think WordPress indicates WordPress.com, I would like to request you to remove that from your mind. But we can say that WordPress.com uses WordPress.  

Then What WordPress is:

WordPress is the most popular web-based content management system. And It is open source software, this means you are free to download, install, use and modify it. You can use it to create any kind of website. It is based on PHP and MySql. Since WordPress is the web-based system, It needs a web server to function properly and has to be installed on a web server. [For more info: Go -> Wikipedia]

WordPress is so popular that it is used by 29.3% website in the world. It has 60% market share in the content management system. [For more info: Go -> w3techs]

How does WordPress work?

I believe that you have probably understood few thing about WordPress. You have already understood that WordPress should be installed on the server to function properly.

Besides web server, you need few items with WordPress.

They are:

  • Themes and
  • Plugins

What is Theme in WordPress?

A Theme is one of the very important parts of WordPress architecture. It can be said that no Theme, no website.  Fundamentally, the WordPress Theme system is a way to “skin” your website. Yet, it is more than just a “skin.”

When you install WordPress on the live server or on your computer, you will see 2 or 3 themes as default themes under Appearance – > Themes menu.

A WordPress Theme is a collection of files (PHP, Javascript, CSS etc,) that work together to produce a graphical user interface with an underlying unifying design for a website. These files are called template files.

A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the WordPress. So, WordPress Themes can provide much more control over the look and presentation of the material on your website. A WordPress theme changes the design of your website, often including its layout.

Your theme can have different layouts, such as static or responsive, using one column or two. Your theme can display content anywhere you want it to be displayed. Your theme can specify which devices or actions make your content visible. Your theme can customize its typography and design elements using CSS.

So, WordPress themes are incredibly powerful. But, as with every web design project, a theme is more than color and layout. Good themes improve engagement with your website’s content in addition to being beautiful. For More Details [Go -> WordPress Codex].

What is Plugin in WordPress?

After understanding the Theme in WordPress architecture, the next important part to understand is Plugin in WordPress. If you don’t know what WordPress plugin is and what plugins do in WordPress, you can’t say that you know WordPress. So it is essential to know about the plugin.

In the WordPress community, there is a saying that goes around: “there’s a plugin for that”. For example, If you want to integrate social media sharing button on your WordPress website/blog, there are a lot of plugins for that functionality. Similarly, if you want to secure your WordPress website/blog, there are a lot of plugins for that. That’s why there’s a plugin to add any new functionality to WordPress website. Plugins make it easy for users to add features to their website without any coding knowledge.

So, a plugin is a piece of software that contains a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. And the Plugins are written in the PHP programing language. So, they are used to extend functionality or add new features to WordPress websites.

There are thousands of thousand plugins available for free to download at the official WordPress plugin directory. Most of the WordPress sites need 4 or 5 plugins but some have 20 or more. These small applications allow you to add interactive features like contact forms, maps, newsletter signups, blog subscriptions, slideshows, photo galleries, social media links and much more.

After the brief description of WordPress, Theme, and Plugin, the next step to understand WordPress is to install WordPress on your computer so that you will be able to play with a lot of WordPress features directly.

How to install WordPress on Your Computer?

Since WordPress is open source CMS, you can get WordPress for free from WordPress.org’s official website.

Since WordPress is based on PHP and MySql. For WordPress, we need Apache server and MySQL database to work.

Before details guides on WordPress installation, let me discuss about Apache server and MySQL database.

What is Apache server?

The Apache HTTP Server is a project of The Apache Software Foundation. The goal of this project is to provide a secure, efficient and extensible server that provides HTTP services in sync with the current HTTP standards. The Apache HTTP Server was launched in 1995 and it has been the most popular web server on the Internet since April 1996.

Apache Server is the most widely used web server software developed and maintained by Apache Software Foundation. It is an open source software available for free. It runs on 67% of all web servers in the world. It is fast, reliable, and secure. [For more info: Go -> Apache Official Website]

Most of the Web hosting providers use Apache as their web server software for WordPress.

What is MySQL?

MySQL is an open source relational database management system (RDBMS) based on Structured Query Language (SQL) and it runs on virtually all platforms, including Linux, UNIX, and Windows. Although it can be used in a wide range of applications, MySQL is most often associated with web-based applications and online publishing and is an important component of an open source enterprise stack called LAMP. LAMP is a Web development platform that uses Linux as the operating system, Apache as the Web server, MySQL as the relational database management system and PHP as the object-oriented scripting language. [ For more info: Go – > MySQL.com]


After the brief description of Apache server and MySQL database, you may have probably understood about the necessity of those softwares for WordPress. Since WordPress is written in PHP, it needs Apache server to run the codes on the server which is provided by Apache server for WordPress. And MySQL plays an important role for WordPress to store data which are in the form of text, video, image etc.

Here’s step by step guide to install WordPress on your computer:

  • The first step to install WordPress: install Apache server and MySQL database software on your computer. 

This is the first step to install WordPress on your computer. You have already understood what Apache and MySQL are. Without this two software, you can’t install WordPress on your computer.

But do you think to install these two software separately on your computer? No, you don’t need to install these softwares separately.

For Apache server and MySQL database, there is package software call XAMPP.

What is XAMPP?

XAMPP stands for Cross-Platform (X), Apache (A), MariaDB (M), PHP (P) and Perl (P).

It is a free and open source cross-platform web server solution stack package developed by Apache Friends, consisting mainly of the Apache HTTP Server, MariaDB database, and interpreters for scripts written in the PHP and Perl programming languages.

It is a simple, lightweight Apache distribution that makes it extremely easy for developers to create a local web server for testing and deployment purposes. Everything needed to set up a web server – server application (Apache), database (MariaDB), and scripting language (PHP) – is included in an extractable file. [For more info: Go -> Apache Friends]

As the first step to install WordPress, you can get the latest version of XAMPP for you from Sourceforge or from Apache Friends.

Download XAMPP from – > Sourceforge or Apache Friends

And install XAMMP on your computer.

After installation of XAMPP software, you need to run XAMPP and you will see the XAMPP control panel from where you need to start the Apache and MySQL as shown in fig. below.WordPress Tutorial: XAMPP control panel for WordPress installation

  • After XAMPP installation on your computer, the next step is to download WordPress software. To download WordPress, Go to official website of WordPress.org -> Download WordPress Now.

From the official website of WordPress, you will get WordPress in zip format. And it should be extracted first. Then go to C: Drive on your computer, you will see xampp folder and inside this folder, there is htdocs folder. At htdocs folder, place the downloaded WordPress.

You can give any name to the folder. Let it be ‘wordpress’ folder.

  • Now go to your web browser and type localhost/phpmyadmin in the address bar.

Then, you will be directed to phpMyAdmin dashboard as shown below. From this, you need to create a database. Go to Database and create a database. My database name is ‘wordpress‘. You can give your own name.

  • After creating a database, Go to Web browser address bar and enter http://localhost/wordpress/ on the address bar. You will see the following interface. 
  • Click on ‘Continue‘ button. And then on ‘Let’s go!‘ button. Then you will see the following interface. 
  • Enter details: Database Name -> wordpress, Username -> root, Password -> it should be blank and other as it is. Then click on ‘Submit‘ button. If all the details you enter are correct, you will see the ok message as shown below. Then click on ‘Run the installation‘ button. 
  • After that, you will be directed to in such an interface where you need to enter all the details about your blog such as Site Title, Username, Password and Email as shown below. Then, click on ‘Install WordPress‘ button. After a few seconds, WordPress will be installed on your local computer and you will see the congrats message. 

Here’s the congrats message. 

Now you can log in with your username and password.

In this way, you can install WordPress on your computer easily.

After complete installation of WordPress on your computer, you can log in to access admin dashboard on your blog. In the admin dashboard, you will see many different things on left sides such as Posts, Media, Pages, Comments, Appearance, Plugins, Users, Tools, and Setting as shown in fig below.

And I will be explaining you everything about them in this WordPress Tutorial article so that you could learn WordPress in a few minutes after reading this article.

What is Post in WordPress?

If you use WordPress as a content management system for your blog, then you will be using posts for the majority of your blog’s content. Posts in WordPress are the entries listed in reverse chronological order on the blog home page. Due to their reverse chronological order, your posts are meant to be timely. Older posts are archived based on month and year.

If you create any sticky posts, those will appear before the other posts. Posts can be found in the Archives, Categories, Recent Posts, and other widgets. Posts are also displayed in the RSS feed of the blog. [For more info about post – > WordPress ]

How to create posts in WordPress?

After understanding the post in WordPress, the next important thing to understand is to create posts in WordPress. Everything you want to publish as blog contents should be published under the post.

To create any post in WordPress is very easy and simple to understand.

Go to Posts -> Add New. Then you will see an interface from where you can create a blog post for your blog. Add the title to your blog post and content. At the right side, you can see format, category, tags, featured image and publish button.

Either choose any category if you have already created or create and add the new category at the time of blog post writing. Similarly, you can add tags to your blog post or add any tags for the blog post at the time of blog post writing.

And set a related image as featured image for your blog post. And finally hit the ‘Publish’ button to publish your blog post.

In this way, you can create any post easily.

What is a category and how to create categories in WordPress?

If you have visited news or magazine website, you may have probably seen many sections such as technology, sports, social media, business, politics etc. And these are categories of the website.

So the category is one of the pre-defined taxonomies. It is used to sort and group content into different sections. A website publishing content on a variety of topics can divide their website into sections using categories.

In WordPress based site, you can easily create categories for your blog. Under Posts, you can see Categories. To create categories, Go to Posts -> Categories.

From this interface, you can create as many categories as you need for your blog.

Similar case for Tags. Under Posts, there is Tags. To create Tags for your blog, Go to Posts -> Tags and create tags that you need for you.

What is Page in WordPress?

Pages are static and are not listed by date. Pages do not use tags or categories instead it uses the page template such as sidebar template, full-width template etc.

An About page is one of the best examples of a page in WordPress.

If you use WordPress as CMS for your blog, you will be creating the pages such as about, contact, privacy policy, advertise etc.

[For more info about page- > WordPress ]

Posts vs. Pages (Key Differences)

For a newbie, the posts and pages create confusion. So you need to understand the main difference between them if you want to learn WordPress.

Here’s the key difference between them:

  • Posts can be categorized vs. Pages are hierarchical.
  • Posts are timely vs. Pages are timeless.
  • Pages have custom template feature vs. Posts do not.
  • Posts are included in RSS feed vs. Pages are not. etc.

What is Media in WordPress?

Images, audio and video etc. files are very important for any website. You may have probably seen such files on any website.

In WordPress based website, all these files are found under the name Media.

So, media in WordPress is used to manage all the user uploads files such as images, audio, video, and other files.

Under the Media menu, there are two screens. The first is screen is Library and the second is  Add New. The first one lists all the files in the media library and can be edited and deleted from the library. The second one which allows users to upload files. But remember users can also upload media while writing a post or page.

What is Comments in WordPress?

Comment system allows you to interact with your visitor. That’s good for every blogger.

In WordPress based site, there is Comment tab in admin dashboard to manage all the comments. From this tab, you can edit or delete comments easily.

What is Widget in WordPress?

After installing WordPress on your computer, you will see widgets under the appearance menu.

i.e. Appearance -> Widgets

WordPress Widgets add content and features to your Sidebars. Examples: Categories, Tag cloud, Search, etc. Plugins will often add their own widgets.

WordPress widgets were originally created to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress theme to the user. Widgets can be easily dragged and dropped into a specific widget area. You can find the list of available widgets and widget areas by going to the Appearance -> Widgets in your WordPress dashboard. [For more info: Go -> WordPress Official Page]

How to add a menu to your WordPress blog?

While you start your own blog, you need to create some of the categories for your blog and all these categories must be displayed in a better way in your blog.

To do so, there is navigation system in WordPress.

Without navigation, your blog does not look pretty good.

To create a menu:

  • Go to Appearance -> Menus
  • Create a new menu with any name you like.
  • Drag and drop categories, page etc. that you need for your menu.

After adding categories and pages to the menu, select the location where you want to display the menu and click on the ‘Save Menu’ button.

In this way, you can easily add a menu to your blog.

User:

While installing WordPress, you will be assigned to the admin role by WordPress. So this user tab allows you to manage the users for your blog such as adding new users, assigning the role for them etc.

Tools: 

The WordPress has provided such tools that can be used to import and export all the data from other blogging platforms.

By default, there are two tools available. They are import and export.

The import tool is used to import data from many platforms such as Blogger, Tumblr etc.

The export tool is used to export all the data from your blog.

Setting:

There are many different settings available for your blog. This section is one of the important parts to know while learning WordPress.

There are five different settings and when you add new plugins, there will increase the setting.

Setting – > General

The general setting allows you to manage some of the basic settings for your blog. The blog title, taglines, web address, email address etc. are the few sets you can configure from this general setting tab.

The membership tab is very important. According to your blog’s nature, you need to play carefully with this setting. If you want your visitor to register with your site, you need to enable register and decide to grant the role as a subscriber. Otherwise, it is better not to touch this membership setting.

Setting – > Writing

There is nothing to do in this writing setting. Keep it as it is.

Setting – > Reading

At the top of the reading setting, you have options to choose whether to Your latest posts or a static page. The selection depends upon your theme design.

Some theme will not need to select any page as a front page. They are designed to display the latest posts on the homepage. But some themes need to select any page as a front page.

So , according to the theme requirements, you can choose anything.

Another setting is to show blog post and syndication post upto 15. But 10 can’t be bad practice.

And there is another important setting to show the article in a feed. It is advised to choose the Summary instead of Full.

  • Blog pages show at most – 15 posts
  • Syndication feeds show the most recent – 10 items
  • For each article in a feed, show – Summary

There is no value to Discourage search engines from indexing your site. So it should be as it is.

Setting – > Discussion

The discussion menu is about the setting for communication and notification. There are no advance things to understand and you will be understood easily once you visit this setting.

It is better to keep it as it is.

Setting – > Media

There is nothing to do with this setting. It is better to keep it as it is.

Setting – > Permalink

This permalink setting is one of the very important settings for your blog. It has unbelievable value to search engine optimization. So If you set the permalink for your blog post in a right way, you will get the advantage in Google and other search engines for your blog posts.

There are many different ways but the great way to set the permalink is ‘Post Name’ as shown in the figure below.

 

That’s it!

This is all about WordPress. I think you have probably understood basic WordPress.

WordPress is very easy to understand. And you don’t need to be a technical background guy to understand it. Once you install WordPress on your computer and play with the feature, it takes a few hour to understand WordPress. This WordPress Tutorial article will not be sufficient for you if don’t implement yourself. Because you may forget what I have explained in this article if don’t practice yourself by installing WordPress on your computer.

So after understanding WordPress, the next step is to go forward with WordPress. With this WordPress, millions of people have earned six-figure from their own home doing online business from blogging, making tutorials and developer.

WordPress opens the great opportunity for anyone in the World. Once you set up your own blog with WordPress, there is great life ahead for you. If you want to start a blog, you will be joining with millions of bloggers in the world. It’s like a family where bloggers exchange the knowledge to the world.

So you don’t need to delay to enter into Blogging world and developers world and setting up your own blog.

But what things are necessary to start a blog with WordPress? 

The essential things to start the blog requires two things: one is the domain name and other is the web server to run the WordPress blog.

The first step to start a blog is to register your own .com domain. Why .com domain? Because the search engines give huge priority to .com domain. Before registering any domain name, you need to think the right domain name and check whether it is available or not.

Bluehost offers free domain name registration for their new hosting customers. If you want to host your new blog with Bluehost, please go to Bluehost – > Bluehost (60% discount )

Where to find the Themes for your blog/website?

I have already mentioned in this WordPress Tutorial article that Theme is one of the important parts in WordPress architecture. No theme, no website.

There are a lot of free themes available in WordPress.org’s theme directory but they have limited features. If you want the beautiful theme that suits for your blog, you need to visit ThemeForest for blogging themes.

For free Themes: Go to WordPress.org’s theme directory.

It is very easy to install the theme for your WordPress based site/blog. Just go to Appearance – > Themes and install the theme in Zip format.

How many plugins do you need to install for your blog?

The number of plugins you need for your blog depends upon the nature of blog and theme. In most of the premium themes, there are huge features that reduce the requirement of plugins.

But generally, you need the following plugins for your blog.

  1. Yoast (for SEO): For a newbie, the understanding level of SEO is very poor. Actually, there are a lot of factor in SEO. And on-page is the foundation of SEO. For new, it is difficult to understand about on-page SEO. This Yoast plugin will teach you everything about on-page SEO for your blog. It is the favorite tool of millions of users, ranging from the bakery around the corner to some of the most popular sites on the planet. With Yoast SEO, you get a solid toolset that helps you aim for that number one spot in the search results. Yoast: SEO for everyone.Yoast SEO does everything in its power to please both visitors and search engine spiders.
  2. Social Share Buttons ( for Social Sharing): Add highly customizable social share buttons to your website to increase the interaction on your website. Place the social sharing buttons before and after the post content or have them follow your readers as they scroll up and down the page, in the form of a social media floating sidebar.
  3. Wordfence Security (for Security):

    Wordfence includes an endpoint firewall and malware scanner that were built from the ground up to protect WordPress. Threat Defense Feed arms Wordfence with the newest firewall rules, malware signatures and malicious IP addresses it needs to keep your website safe. Rounded out by a suite of additional features, Wordfence is the most comprehensive WordPress security solution available.

  4. Smush Image Compression and Optimization:

    Image plays an important in SEO. The higher size image will slow down the site resulting higher page load time. The higher page load time posts get less priority on Google. So you need to optimize your image of your blog. To do so, this Smush plugin is the best for everyone. You can optimize and compress all of your images with the incredibly powerful tool.

  5. Akismet Anti-Spam: 

    Comment enable your visitors to comment on your blog post. But there are a lot of tools that generate automatic comments. Sometime your blog may get huge comments but they will not be from the human. So this Akismet plugin checks your comments and contact form submissions against their global database of spam to prevent your site from publishing malicious content.

  6. Contact Form 7:

    How do you plan to receive your visitor’s query from your blog? For this, you don’t need to worry about it. This Contact Form 7 can manage multiple contact forms, plus you can customize the form and the mail contents flexibly with simple markup. The form supports Ajax-powered submitting, CAPTCHA, Akismet spam filtering and so on.

  7. MailChimp for WordPress (for Email subscriber): 

    MailChimp is an email marketing service provider, founded in 2001. It has 7 million users that collectively send over 10 billion emails through the service each month. It is a web-based application.
    MailChimp is one of the best for email marketing and this plugin helps you add more subscribers to your MailChimp lists using various methods. You can create good looking opt-in forms or integrate with any other form on your site, like your comment, contact or checkout form.

These seven plugins are the most important and valuable plugins for you and your blog. As the site grows, you may add more plugins for you. But at the beginning, these are sufficient.

After reading this WordPress tutorial article, I think you are happy by understanding the WordPress. So, my advice for you is to install WordPress on your computer and play with its features. And after learning WordPress, I always encourage to newbies to start own blog so that there will continue learning process.

What do you about this WordPress tutorial article?

Did you understand the WordPress? Are you thinking to install WordPress on your computer and play with features? Please share your feeling after reading this article in the comment section below. 

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About the Author: Kamal Tamang

Web developer and web designer specialized in free and premium WordPress theme development. Started to learn to code since 2014 and now I am familiar with WordPress/PHP/CSS/HTML and JavaScript (jQuery).

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