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The most common WordPress beginner questions answered
If you want to set up a website or blog with WordPress for the first time, a number of questions usually arise in advance. In the following post I have answered a whole journey of these questions in order to make it easier for WordPress beginners to take the first steps on the way to their own WordPress website. Of course, I am also very happy if you ask any other open questions about WordPress in the comment area, so that I can expand the post step by step. But now to your WordPress questions:
1. What advantages does WordPress offer compared to providers like Squarespace or Wix?
The big difference between WordPress and platforms like Squarespace or Wix is that WordPress is open source and you can install the WordPress software yourself on your own domain and your own web space independently. So you are completely independent, because you do not host your website on a platform, but you manage your website completely yourself with the WordPress installation downloaded and installed on your web space.
With the help of external plugins, you can also extremely expand WordPress and thus build pretty much any type of website (e.g. a blog, portfolio, online shop, a ticket system or a business website). Wix and Squarespace, on the other hand, are more suitable for business websites and, in contrast to WordPress, offer a slightly easier operation. For example, it is easier to build your own static pages for your own website than with WordPress.
2. What is the difference between a self-hosted website and a website on WordPress.com?
WordPress.com gives you the opportunity to set up a website without your own web space and domain. So you are hosted on WordPress.com, but in return you do not have the freedom that you have with a self-hosted WordPress website. For example, you can only install your own plugins and themes in the very expensive business plan (this option is quite new overall). Otherwise you have a lot fewer options and freedoms or you have to pay for them extra. In my opinion, a self-hosted website is definitely cheaper and more flexible. With a self-hosted website you also have to take care of all plugins, theme and WordPress updates yourself.
It is therefore important that you regularly maintain your self-hosted WordPress website and make sure that important plugins for the security of your website are installed and that they are up to date. If you are not afraid of this work, we would actually always recommend a self-hosted WordPress website.
3. When is a WordPress.com website right?
If you want to try blogging first, you can set up a free WordPress.com account with a website (without your own domain) in a few minutes. The practical thing is that you can move the content of a WordPress.com website to a self-hosted WordPress website at any time. This is possible with relatively little effort. So WordPress.com is always an option to try out. WordPress.com is also a recommendation if you don't want anything to do with plugins and updates and you prefer to pay a higher monthly amount instead to keep everything up-to-date and secure.
4. Is WordPress only suitable for blogging?
No, definitely not. WordPress in particular, with its many external plugins, offers the option of building pretty much any website you can imagine. With the help of plugins and special themes, WordPress can be wonderfully expanded and an online shop, portfolio or business website can be easily built. Forums or event websites, portals, wedding websites, photo albums or the like can also be easily implemented.
The great thing is that the blog function is so strong on WordPress. So you can always add a blog to every website. For example, it makes sense to regularly publish news or helpful tips for customers on a business website.
5. What prior knowledge is required to set up and use a WordPress?
Actually, you don't need any previous knowledge, you can teach yourself everything step by step. It is of course helpful if you are familiar with a text program such as Word or Pages, for example, and have a basic understanding of the Internet. Everything else that is WordPress-specific is easy to learn. You don't have to understand everything from the beginning, but you can work your way slowly. I am currently working on a WordPress beginners crash course in eBook format, which will hopefully be a helpful introduction for WordPress beginners (more on this shortly).
There are also a few helpful books and courses that you can either borrow from your local library or order online. My recommendations are e.g. "Introduction to WordPress 4" by Peter Müller or the video course "WordPress 4.5 - The perfect learning course for beginners and advanced users" on DVD. My YouTube video "Set up a WordPress website - this is how it works" may also be helpful.
6. What are WordPress themes?
After installing WordPress, the latest standard WordPress theme is installed. A theme determines the look of your website or blog, it is like the piece of clothing for your website. The font and the web design are determined in the theme. There are also tons of features that a theme offers. Depending on the type of theme, a theme is specially prepared for a portfolio website, blog, online magazine or online shop. But there are also very large, general WordPress themes that offer everything, similar to a modular system. These themes are usually a bit more complex to set up, but are suitable if you want to set up a larger website with several areas (e.g. business start page, shop function and blog).
When it comes to themes, a distinction is also made between free free themes and premium themes. Free themes can be previewed directly in the WordPress admin area under Design / Themes and then installed and activated. Premium themes, on the other hand, can be purchased directly from the theme designer or via a theme marketplace.
7. What are WordPress plugins?
You can use plugins to equip your website with additional functions that are not integrated into WordPress by default. There are countless free WordPress plugins that you can also view and install right away via the WordPress admin area under Plugins. Also, just like with themes, there are quite a few premium plugins or premium upgrades from free plugins.
Plugins are one of the greatest strengths of WordPress compared to other blog or CMS systems. Thanks to the large open source community of WordPress, external additional functions can be freely developed worldwide. There are plugins that offer large functions such as an online shop (e.g. WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads) or very small plugins that may only offer an additional widget such as a preview of your Instagram images.
You can find an overview of all free plugins in the WordPress.org plugin directory.
8. What are WordPress widgets?
Since I've just mentioned widgets, I'll explain what a widget is in a moment. Every WordPress theme offers certain areas of the website that can be filled with so-called widgets. A very classic widget area is, for example, a blog sidebar. In the widget area "Sidebar" you can display different small pieces of information in blocks one below the other. For example, you can display a list of the categories (topics) of your blog ads, a form to subscribe to your newsletter, an archive of all your blog tags, a search, etc.
However, depending on the theme, widget areas can appear in very different places on your website and be intended for different content. You should find an overview of the possible widget areas and any individual widgets that are specially prepared for the theme in the theme documentation.
9. Which plugins should I definitely install?
This question cannot be answered in the same way for all websites, of course it always depends a little on what requirements you have for your website. For self-hosted websites, however, it is important to install a few plugins for the security of your WordPress website. A plugin is also helpful to record and evaluate statistics of your website and an SEO optimization plugin. A cache plug-in is also recommended in the vast majority of cases. We have prepared a list of our WordPress plugin recommendations for reference on the Elmastudio blog.
10. What settings can I make in WordPress to set up my website?
The options for customizing your website depend heavily on your chosen theme. So you should think in advance what your main content will be. Will your website have more static pages, such as an About Us page, a contact page with a form or a page with your offers. Or do you have an online shop with products or a blog where you mainly want to show blog posts. Depending on the content, you can select your theme and use the setting options for the respective theme. Most themes offer theme options through the WordPress Customizer. In the Customizer you will also find more general setting options for your website, e.g. the option to change colors, determine the start page of your website or select a header image for your start page.
11. Can I use WordPress in German?
Sure, you can use WordPress in many different languages. To use WordPress in another language, you can simply change the language in the WordPress admin area under Settings / General / Language of the website rearrange.
12. How can I implement a multilingual website with WordPress?
Unfortunately, WordPress is not yet multilingual by default, but there are some helpful WordPress plugins that you can use to easily implement a multilingual website with WordPress. For example, you can use Polylang or the paid WPML (especially interesting in combination with WooCommerce).
13. Which theme is right for my website?
In general, this question is of course not so easy to answer. There are a couple of important things you should consider when choosing your theme. On the one hand, it is important that the theme is compatible with the current WordPress version. Then of course it is also important that you like the design of the theme and that you find that this style fits your website. Next, you should make sure that the theme is prepared for the type of website you want to implement.
So you should make sure that the theme has a portfolio or shop function if you need this for your website. You should also inquire about possible theme options in advance. For example, if you want to have a very specific layout for displaying your blog posts or a start page with the option of showing different areas of your website in a preview, you should check whether the theme you have chosen offers these options.
It is also important to find out how detailed the theme is documented and whether detailed texts or videos are included with the theme to help you set up the theme.
14. Can I customize a theme?
It always depends on the respective WordPress theme and which options the theme offers. Most themes have documentation and a live demo so that you can look at the theme functions and options before choosing a theme. There is also the option of using your own CSS to adapt certain elements of your website.
15. Do I need CSS knowledge to use WordPress?
No, you definitely don't need your own CSS knowledge to use WordPress or set up your theme. With CSS, you can only overwrite certain design elements of the theme individually for you, so that you can adapt the theme to your needs if necessary. However, this is always only an emergency solution and you shouldn't actually use your own CSS if it is not absolutely necessary for you. Using the CSS of the theme yourself is always the cleanest option, but if you want to adjust a little something, you can do that with your own CSS in the WordPress Customizer (see option "Additional CSS") to do.
16. What are WordPress Meetups and who are Meetups for?
WordPress Meetups are regularly organized by the local WordPress community in many cities around the world. They are free meetings to exchange ideas about WordPress and learn new things about WordPress. The main topics of the meetups are published in advance so that you can think about which topic you are particularly interested in. There are topics for WordPress beginners or advanced users, but actually there is always something for everyone and it is above all about getting together as a local community and learning from one another. On the website wpmeetups.de you can find an overview of all meetups in Germany. You can search for worldwide WordPress Meetups on the meetup.com website. You can also find all WordPress events in your area directly in your WordPress dashboard if you have activated the “WordPress Events and News” option in your display options.
In addition to the regular local meetups, there are of course also the larger WordCamps. These WordPress conferences also take place worldwide in different cities and you can take part in the mostly 1-2 day larger WordPress events for a mostly small ticket fee. You can find an overview of all WordCamps taking place worldwide on the WordCamp Central website.
I hope you enjoyed the article and you have found helpful tips and information about WordPress. Do you know or do you have any more general questions about WordPress or getting started with WordPress? Then write it to me in a comment and I'll try to include all questions in the post or answer them in the comment area. I'm really looking forward to your questions!
Hello, I'm Ellen, a WordPress theme developer and blogger at Elmastudio. I love delicious vegan food, avocados, travel and all kinds of adventures. You can also find me on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
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