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How the WordPress CMS Really Works

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The October Austin WordPress Beginner’s class goes back to basics. WPATX has seen membership climb and most of our new members are just that — Folks new to WordPress.

Those of us who teach and mentor can often forget the level of confusion that comes with learning a new language, and no, I’m not talking about PHP or JS. I have been remembering how difficult it was for me to envision and understand what was happening when I was following the “simple instructions” of setting up and using my first WordPress site.

This WPATX Beginner’s class will be devoted to learning the vocabulary of WordPress, understanding the industry nomenclature that describes just how WordPress does what it does when you tap your keyboard.

The goal of this class is to help our community of WordPress Beginners really understand what is going on behind the screen when you are entering text into your pages and posts and adding plugins.

This session will be lead by Nick and Sandi Batik and has been designed for new users of WordPress and those who have been using WordPress a while and would really like to know, 'How WordPress Works'.

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How the WordPress CMS Really Works

  1. 1. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik How the WordPress CMS Really Works January 16, 2017 Presented by Sandi & Nick Batik
  2. 2. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik How the WordPress CMS Really WorksTonight’s WordPress Beginner’s class is devoted to learning the vocabulary and structure of WordPress Content Management System. The goal of this class is to help our community of WordPress Beginners really understand how WordPress handles content and displays it in a web browser.
  3. 3. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik WordPress is a Content Management System A Content Management System gives non-technical folks the ability to publish their content on the Web
  4. 4. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik How the WordPress CMS WORKS Clicking the “Publish” button in your WordPress Dashboard isn’t JUST changing words from private to public. It’s putting those words into one or more “boxes” of organizational structure within the WordPress database.
  5. 5. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik What does WordPress Consider Content Content is more than text on a screen Content also includes: Images Audio Video
  6. 6. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Some Content Management System Basics A Content Management System (CMS) is a Database-driven software application The CMS runs on a computer (server) connected to the web Website content is stored in the database The software queries (Asks) the database for the content to present on
  7. 7. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Some Content Management System Basics The WordPress program communicates with the MySQL database to retrieve and display your content in a web browser
  8. 8. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik How Does It Retrieve? Your WordPress theme A theme is a collection of templates Each template contains the programming code to get specific content from the database e.g. display the 5 most recent posts
  9. 9. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Content vs. Appearance WordPress separates the content (database) from how it appears (theme) WordPress holds ALL Content in the Database How that Information is Presented on the Web is the Job of the Theme With WordPress You can Change the Theme without Affecting The Content
  10. 10. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik The WordPress Theme The Theme you choose determines the look of your site. The Theme consists of PHP files with HTML, CSS, and Javascript all working together to display your site in a unique way You can change your Theme without effecting the content of your site.
  11. 11. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Benefits of the WordPress CMSQuick and easy page management – Any approved user can quickly and easily publish online without complicated software or programming. Design is separate from content – You can manipulate content without fear of accidentally changing the design. Consistent site branding and navigation – Design templates provide a consistent branding and standard navigation across your websites.
  12. 12. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Benefits of the WordPress CMSDatabase-driven – You only need to change data once for it to be updated throughout your site. Shared resources – Website managers will have access to shared resources, such as modules, images, audio and video files, etc. Approval systems – You can give different levels of access to different users, and the CMS has mechanisms to ensure content is approved before going live.
  13. 13. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Benefits of the WordPress CMS Mobile ready – The WordPress CMS helps to scale your site’s content to fit tablets, mobile devices and smaller browser windows. Archive capabilities –display a list of historic or related content.
  14. 14. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Benefits of the WordPress CMSSearch engine-friendly – The WordPress CMS helps to optimize your website so that search engine users can easily find your information. Revisions – You can track who has made changes to your page and archive previous versions of your page.
  15. 15. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Some Content Management System Basics Your WordPress Site’s Dashboard is how you control the Words and Media (Content) that are part of your site
  16. 16. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Understanding the WordPress “Dashboard”There are Two Parts To WordPress: The Public Part, and The Private Part This is similar to the public area and back office of any business The front end of the site is what the site visitor sees in their Browser the private part is your Dashboard
  17. 17. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik How Content Gets Into Your Site so WordPress Can “Manage” It
  18. 18. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Who Gets To Do What— CMS Roles and Responsibilities The CMS allows users of various skill levels to be involved in managing a WordPress website. How you use the CMS will depend on your role
  19. 19. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik ContributorsContributors can create, post and update content, including Text and images. Contributors can only add or update their own content, but can’t publish the results. Multiple people in organization can be designated Contributors, allowing subject matter experts to create and update content in their own areas within the organization.
  20. 20. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Editors Editors have the ability to create, post and update content, including text and images. Editors also can approve content to be published on WordPress sites they are assigned to manage. As Editors have the ability and the authority to review and publish content―making it visible to the public―this role should be limited to individual responsible for the site’s content.
  21. 21. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Site Administrators Site Administrators are most closely aligned with the traditional role of webmaster. In addition to the ability to create, approve and publish content, they are responsible for the overall design and functionality of the site. Site Administrators can build and integrate modules, modify administrative features, authorize and set up user profiles for Contributors, Editors and peer Site Administrators.
  22. 22. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik WordPress CMS Structure PagesWordPress pages are called ‘Static Pages’ Static does NOT mean the Page can never change…but are less time- dependent than Posts Pages display content that isn’t time- sensitive, like the Home page, About Us, Services etc.
  23. 23. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik WordPress CMS Structure PagesPages are used to populate the site navigation (Menu) bar Many WordPress sites skip the blogging option and chose to have only static pages Pages do not normally allow comments
  24. 24. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik WordPress CMS Structure Pages Pages can be organized in a hierarchical fashion— arranged in order of rank Hierarchical Pages can act as a “Parent” to “Child” pages If your theme supports drop-down menus then the “Child” page will appear under the “Parent” page in the navigation bar
  25. 25. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik WordPress CMS Structure PagesPages can also be used to present a selected archive collection of blog posts Page Templates apply only to pages to change their look and feel A page template can be applied to a single page, a page section, or a class of page Think of Parent pages and Child pages as a site’s Tables of Contents
  26. 26. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik WordPress CMS Structure PostsWordPress was originally created for blogging, the writing and publishing chronological “Posts” Posts are time-sensitive articles normally listed on your Blog page Posts usually appear in reverse chronological order
  27. 27. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Sticky Posts Sticky Posts – sometimes called Featured Posts — override the reverse chronological order of the blog page and stay at the top of the blog
  28. 28. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Post Comments Posts allow comments Posts allow you to close or disable comments on individual posts
  29. 29. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik WordPress CMS Structure PostsPosts have categories You setup your post categories in the Posts > Categories menu If you create a post — but don’t assign a category, it automatically gets assigned to the ― “Uncategorized” category Post categories can show up on your sidebar
  30. 30. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Categories Categories tend to be pre-defined and broad ranging Like pages, categories are hierarchical A post can be added to more than one category. Try to keep categories “big picture” and to not have a category with less than 3 posts in it (unless your blog is brand new of course).
  31. 31. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Tags Tags are similar to Categories in that they’re also a “Taxonomy” — a system of classification — a way to group things together (https://codex.wordpress.org/Taxonomies) Tags are non-hierarchical — like posts, there are no parent and child tags, and you can have as many as is appropriate for your subject matter.
  32. 32. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik How to Use Categories and Tags Live Demonstration: Creating Categories Creating Tags Editing and Managing Categories and Tags
  33. 33. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Review—The Difference Between Pages and Posts When you’re writing a regular blog entry, you are writing a “POST” In the default WordPress set-up a POST will appear in reverse chronological order on your blog’s home page. PAGES are for content such as “About,” “Contact,” etc. PAGES are outside of the blog chronological structure, and are used to present timeless information about your site — information that is always applicable. PAGES can be used to organize and manage any content.
  34. 34. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Creating Content Live Demo Work in Progress, or ready to publish? Saving and publishing Pages and Posts Changing the display order of pages Using the publish date of Posts – publication schedules and building history
  35. 35. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Other Ways to Extend Content — Custom Post Types Custom Post Types A Custom Post Type (CPT) can be page-like or post-like in its usage CPT can be used solely for bundling content in a theme or plugin — not actually displayed individually on the front-end
  36. 36. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Other Ways to Extend Content — Custom Post Types Use Custom Post Types to separate types of content product listings real estate listings movie/music database testimonials or portfolio items
  37. 37. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Other Ways to Extend Content — Custom Post TypesCustom Post Type Plugins There are several CPT creator/manager Plugins that help you efficiently many-to-many connections between posts, pages, custom post types — A slider plugin may create its own post type. A directory or classifieds plugin will most likely create its own post type. Themes can include their own custom post types
  38. 38. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Other Ways to Extend Content — Custom Taxonomies Review —Taxonomies are a way to group things together Custom taxonomies are great for organizing custom post types. Custom post types are great for publishing similar items
  39. 39. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Other Ways to Extend Content — Custom FieldsCustom Fields are neither Post Types nor Taxonomies Custom Fields contain data about a Post, which is why they’re called “post meta” or “metadata” (i.e. data about data). A Custom Field for a WordPress / WooCommerce site post could be serial number, price, or warranty length. Unlike custom post types and custom taxonomies, WordPress, by default, provides a way to add custom fields and insert values for existing fields
  40. 40. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Other Ways to Extend Content — Widgets Widgets Widgets appear under the Appearance tab in the admin sidebar. The Developer writes the code to create the widget areas so the user can drag and drop widgets.
  41. 41. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Extending Content Dynamically Created PagesWordPress displays similar posts together in dynamically-generated pages. These pages are called Archives or Archive Pages or Archive Indexes Dynamically generating pages with like-kind content is one of the main benefits of using any content management system. Author pages are actually archives just like category and tag archives
  42. 42. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Extending Content Dynamically Created PagesWordPress has a lot of ways to display content dynamically. Some WordPress themes have distinct styling for every scenario, like category archives looking substantially different from tag archives, for whatever reason The archive for categories and tags would look the same but display different content.
  43. 43. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Review – Other Sources of ContentContent isn’t just text – The WordPress Media Library for: Images Video Audio and more
  44. 44. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Media — Another Source of Content Live Demonstration of the Media Library
  45. 45. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Looking Under The Hood of a WordPress
  46. 46. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik What Exactly is a MySQL Database? MySQL is The Database That Works With WordPress Functionally a database is way to organize information so you can find it when you need it It also connects related Information such as: Pictures with Captions Pictures with their Posts or Pages Related Posts or Pages People with Activities
  47. 47. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik What Exactly is a MySQL Database? All this Information can be Gathered Together and Formatted Into Reports
  48. 48. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik
  49. 49. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Presenter Sandi Batik WordPress evangelist, consultant, trainer, curricula developer, author, unapologetic geek, unrepentant capitalist, lucky enough to do what I love everyday. I’ve served as Austin WordPress Meetup co-organizer since 2010. With my husband Nick Batik, co-founded Pleiades Publishing Services in 1992 and Hands-On WordPress Training in 2010. Follow me @sandi_batik / @WPATX Contact me at: handsonwp.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/hsandrachevali erbatik
  50. 50. HandsOnWP.com @nick_batik@sandi_batik Presenter Nick Batik Started in web development in 1994 and have been a WordPress consultant, and web developer since 2007. A WordPress evangelist, I’ve served as Austin WordPress Meetup co-organizer since 2010. With my partner, co-founded Pleiades Publishing Services in 1992 and Hands-On WordPress Training in 2010. Follow me @nick_batik / @WPATX Contact me at: handsonwp.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholasbatik