I try to keep the habit of giving myself photography related ‘homework’ each week, and in that sense, this week was no different. However, this week, I wanted to create galleries on my site, so there was more than just the blog aspect. I also wanted to do it myself, with as little help as possible, which meant navigating new territory in WordPress for me.

This was my first real foray in creating more than a simple blog post, so I was a bit nervous to attempt it. However, after working with it a lot this past week, I can say I definitely think WordPress is really easy to use and intuitive when it comes to building pages. I felt like a wizard when I was able to create several new photo galleries and pages all on my own. I even tweaked the menus and created my own layouts how I wanted. They sound like little things, but having the freedom to tweak my website when the mood strikes me, without needing much help.

 

That being said, I am also lucky enough to have an ‘in’ contact to help me with WordPress when I come across difficulties: my wonderful mother (although I did try not to harass her too much this week). She is the one who introduced me to WordPress and taught me the basics in order to work on my own site. Since she has way more knowledge when it comes to WordPress and the interweb world, I went ahead and did a little Q&A with her about WordPress and why she uses it for most of her sites, so I could pass the info along to anyone who might be interested.

What are the advantages of using WordPress?

There are so many advantages to creating a site with WordPress. It’s super popular, well supported in a huge online community, and it’s open source. All of this to say, there are a ton of resources available to make the most out of WordPress. This includes themes that give your site a unique look and feel and plugins that expand, secure, and enhance features on your website. In addition to what WordPress offers, it can be installed on the server of your choice. This last bit is important because many website builders have to stay where they’re built. With WordPress, you can install or move it to any server. I’ve talked about some of this here and here.

But people say there is a steep learning curve with WordPress. Is that true?

I really don’t think so. I’ve created sites for clients that have never worked on a website before and after giving them a bit of training they take it over. In fact, I build websites so that my clients can make changes themselves to keep their site more relevant for their website visitors. There are themes out there that make creating custom pages, galleries and more, super easy with drag-and-drop page layouts. I’ve found that if you can get around on something like Facebook, you can use WordPress. Again, the right theme can do wonders.

Can I create a WordPress site myself??

Yes, absolutely. When it comes to setting up WordPress, a lot of web hosting services offer a one-click type of installation. From there, it’s a question of choosing a theme, and installing a couple of plugins that will help your website. Also, some themes offer demo content that will layout all of the pages for you so that all you need to do is replace the demo content with your website content.

What is your favorite easy theme with a demo layout?

As we talked about, a theme gives WordPress websites the look and feel, the framework, for the site. Some themes have additional features like built-in forms, portfolios, galleries, maps, and more. My favorite easy-to-use theme is Enfold. It’s a premium theme so there’s a cost, but it’s well worth it. It allows you to create unique page layouts for pages, posts or portfolio items. It also has a number of demos that you can import and replace with your content. You can create and move sections around by pointing and clicking. And the newest version is optimized for better performance and faster page loading.

What plugins should I install?

Well, the plugins I install on every site I work on are Wordfence and Yoast SEO.

Wordfence is an outstanding security plugin that protects websites. It scans your site to let you know if you have any security issues, blocks malicious traffic, and lets you know when you need to update plugins to keep your site safe. The free version of Wordfence also includes a spam filter for comments.

Yoast SEO is a search engine optimization plugin that helps you to optimize your site for  search engines like Google. It has a stepped setup process to help configure it for individual websites. Yoast SEO has so many features. You can set custom titles and descriptions for each page (these titles and descriptions are what come up in search engine results). This plugin also lets you check your web pages to see how they’re ranking for keyword terms. There’s so much more to the plugins I’ve listed, but they are the must installs for me.

Is there anything else I should know about WordPress?

Hmm. There’s so much, really. I guess the main thing is that WordPress give you tons of flexibility and control. You can install it wherever you want and be able to expand it in whatever way you want. While website builders have come a long way, the one thing that keeps me working with WordPress is that it’s on the server of my choice and I am not limited in how it looks, or what I add on. And if I outgrow my web hosting server, I can move it or upgrade. I’m not limited or boxed into anything.