Maine WordPress Meet-up

A newly established Meet-up group Southern Maine WordPress Meetup is having regular meetings on the third Tuesday of the month at 6pm. Meetings held at the Casco Bay Technology Hub suite 206, 30 Danforth Street, Portland, ME

Most of the meetup is geared toward developers and designers who build websites using WordPress, although there is usually a segment at the beginning where users, such as students from wpstudent.net can new things to apply to their website. From tips to best practices it will be a good chance to pick the brains of people who have had many years experience with WordPress.

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Test your theme’s style settings

When you are trying out a new theme and you want to see how it will style all the elements that you could possibly put into a post, from headings, to images… there is an easy way to do this with some sample content.

We will be creating a post called Theme Tester and then we will be going to a Content Generator that will provide us with content that has most of the commonly used HTML tags that format your text and images.

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What do Plugins do?

Time to do the do

Plugins do just about anything you’d want to do with your WordPress site. If you want your site to perform a task or change in appearance which your theme or the default WordPress platform cannot accomplish, chances are there is a plugin that will do the deed. And chances are there will be several to choose from.

Your website is a kitchen.

Think of how we do things in a kitchen.  A kitchen is a place where we prepare food and while there is plenty we can do by hand, if we want to do something more efficiently or some specialized food preparation we utilize tools that plugin. If you want toast, your kitchen can’t just make toast on its own, you need to plug in a toaster. The toaster is a plugin. A toaster, blender, refrigerator, microwave, etc. all have one thing in common (besides plugging in), they add functionality to your kitchen. Likewise, WordPress plugins provide needed, sometimes essential, functionality to your website.

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Visual Editor

The Visual Editor is the name of the Post/Page editing window with all those square buttons above. It  functions similar to most word processor programs, so if you are familiar with writing in MS Word for instance, then you should be able to easily navigate this area. All the same, there are  several buttons and settings unique to WordPress so in the classroom I will describe in detail this important WordPress interface.

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Creating a Navigation Menu – part 1

The second most important thing.

If the most important thing about a website is its content, then the second most important thing is the ability to maneuver around the content. The ability to move from page to page of a website is called navigation and we navigate though a menu, a list of choices to click onto. It’s funny to spell this out like this, after all, this is something that’s almost always set up so intuitively that even those sitting down to a computer for the first time will be able to quickly figure out how to navigate. My purpose in describing it in a basic manner is because now we will not only be using navigation but creating the navigation, and if we understand its importance on a fundamental level, we can then create the best.

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I need a text editor?

Well, hopefully you won’t need a text editor but, if you want to install WordPress onto your host site and the automatic installations are not available you will have to edit your database information in one of the  installation files to get it to work.

Luckily both Macs and Windows PC come with  simple plain text editors, NotePad (Windows) and TextEdit (Mac). You will be opening the the wp-config-sample.php file (Of course, requiring you to first downloaded the WordPress package and unzipped it to reveal the installation  files.)

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Theme Shopping

Where to start your quest for your perfect WordPress theme.

There are thousands of WordPress themes to choose from. How to find and decide which one is right for you is one of the basic challenges of WordPress. Here are some resources of where you get started looking at themes.

Our first stop will be at the Themes Directory at WordPress.org. These are all free themes. For this class we will be sticking with using free themes to install and try out to see it we find the right fit, which is the only real way to find out if a theme is going to work with your given content. If a student wishes to pursue a premium theme option I have listed some of the better sites below.

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Find-a-Host

In the process of helping out other folks with their preexisting websites I’ve had the opportunity to sample a variety of web hosts. I was not overly impresses by the most hosts that I worked with but I did come up with three that I can recommend from experience. Disclosure: the below links are affiliate links of my recommended hosting services.

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What’s a Widget?

Widget is simply the name for the sections of your sidebar. The default wordpress theme Twenty-Eleven comes with several items already installed.

Looking at the sidebar and the headings for the links listed there we can find corresponding widgets activated when we look at the widget-admin area. Activating a widget  is simply a matter of dragging and dropping. Once a module is dropped into its widget area there are also settings that can customize each individual. Keep in mind that there is no ‘save’ button, once in place a widget is active and viewable on your site.

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Posts n’ Pages

What’s the difference between Posts and Pages and how can I use them effectively?

The two basic ways that you will be adding content to your site is by adding new posts and adding new pages. Just how you use your posts and pages  will depend upon the type of site you are building (simple layout, eCommerce, gallery, blog, etc…) and the structure of your theme. But, in all likelihood, you will be using some combination of Posts and Pages. Our owl website is a good example of effective use of both Pages and Posts. I’ve also used a combination of posts and pages to create WpStudent.net, which we can dissect in class as we further examine these powerful “content containers”.

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FTP to manually interface with your site files

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is the the way to move files and folders from your computer to your website server.  While you can have and run a WordPress site without ever having to FTP any files it is a very powerful tool and a little bit of knowledge can potentially make things more efficient for you, especially if you are going to be uploading large files like audio and video files.

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Plugins used in the Owls website

Our test site Our Maine Owls which we are replicating has a variety of plugins installed to provide functionality to the site. We will be installing and activating all or most of these plugins to give you a feel for the potential that can bring to your site, and to give you a feel for setting up a plugin. For reference I’ve listed all of these below.

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