Writing with Robin Van Auken

I use WordPress for all of my websites, and all of my college students create one during their time earning their Media Writing minor. Perhaps you want to use WordPress but you’re not sure how to go about it?


WordPress is a popular Content Management System (CMS) used by companies, large and small, as well as individuals. There are two versions of WordPress — the .com and the .org version. The .com is a free blogging software hosted on the WordPress servers similar to Google Blogger. The .org version is a free script available for download and installation on private websites. All that is needed to update and maintain a WordPress website is access to the Internet, a web browser, and a basic knowledge of CMS.

Upon installing WordPress, an Administrator account with all capabilities is automatically created. There are several types of roles assigned to people updating or accessing the WordPress sites. See the list below:

Summary of Roles

  • Super Admin – Someone with access to the blog network administration features controlling the entire network.
  • Administrator – Somebody who has access to all the administration feature.
  • Editor – Somebody who can publish and manage posts and pages as well as manage other users’ posts, etc.
  • Author – Somebody who can publish and manage their own post.
  • Contributor – Somebody who can write and manage their posts but not publish the.
  • Subscriber – Somebody who can only manage their profile.

Pages Vs Posts Vs Plugins

There are two types of content (primarily) for a WP site — posts and pages.

Posts are often used for new information, such as essays or articles or press releases, and they are generally visible on the site in a chronological order, as well as searchable by tags and categories. Only posts have tags and categories. Often, post titles are placed in a sidebar widget.

Pages are generally static elements with information that does not change often. These are usually visible on the main menu/navigation bar.

Plugins are small scripts/programs that allow you to customize or add functionality to the WP site. For example, plug-ins are commonly used in web browsers to play video, scan for viruses, and display new file types. Well-known plug-ins examples include Adobe Flash Player and QuickTime. Common WP plugins you will probably use support Google analytics and maps, photo galleries, contact forms, social media sharing, etc. A WordPress.com site comes loaded with plugins, and you cannot add any additional ones because it may affect the integrity of the WP server. If you have a self-hosted website and use the WordPress.org script, you can use all the plugins you want. Many are free, some have a cost.

When a plugin is installed, sometimes you will add it visibly to a WP site, sometimes with a widget. Widgets go in sidebars, and sidebars can be on the side or in the footer. Common widgets are post listings, archives, tags, logins, and text. If you want special formatting of text — such as bold or links — you’ll have to do that with HTML.

Most people updating and maintaining a WP site will not bother with the plugins or widgets since these are set up when the site is created, however, plugins are updated by the third-party providers on a regular basis so clients may need to keep an eye on the dashboard and if a plugin needs updating, simply follow the simple directions.

The dashboard can be a bit daunting with WP, but for the most part it can be ignored. When you first go to the dashboard, there is a lot of content but what you need to focus on is in the left sidebar. That is where you can access the Posts, the Media (photos), the Pages, the Appearance, the Plugins, etc.

If you need to update an existing page, simply click on Pages and it opens a directory. Select the page you want to work on, make the edits, then look to the right column and click on Update. Same thing with Posts.

If you would like to add a new Page or Post, simply click on Add New.

The WYSIWYG text editor built into WP is basically all you need — you can insert photos (images), video, rich text, links. If you click on the Show/Hide Kitchen Sink you’ll see a lot more choices. It’s up to you.

Also, you can enter edits in either Visual or Test (HTML), depending upon your ability or preference. Most clients stay in Visual mode.