We’re going to set up WordPress to be more suitable for use as a Content Management System. Just before our experts get going, our experts should perhaps inquire what we mean by this WordPress. As many people know, it started life as a piece of software built for blogging, indicating that it was made to do what blogs do – writing and editing posts, commenting, etc.
Over time, however, WordPress has grown and changed a lot, including the fact that it now supports various features. It currently supports numerous features, making it less of a pure blogging platform and more of a tool to create websites with rich content and complex content.
Types WordPress can also be used to publish content multiple times. This means that you can write a piece of content once and then display it in different places without duplicating it, saving time and energy for website editors and making WordPress more CMS-like.
Some Approaches And Methods
There are some approaches and methods that may be put to use – and those are what we’ll concentrate on in this blog post – we’ll start with a brand new WordPress installation. We’re not going to go through the steps leading up to this point. There are many blogs that we’ll discuss how to do that, but we’re at the stage where we’ve run a new installation, and we’re just going to log in now that we’re looking at the dashboard.
Well, first of all, make a few simple adjustments before we get into the details, a little bit more standard, WordPress is installed with a sample post and a sample page, the first thing we’re going likely to do is to get rid of those, while we’re in the pages section, we’ll create two new pages later.
You may need to change or remove them depending on your particular site, but you will need them 99% of the time. So it’s worth doing this now, so first we’ll create a home page by clicking “Add New Page” and calling it “Home” to publish it immediately, and then we’ll add a page called “News,” which we’ll also post in the “Edit Page” screen.
You may have noticed that WordPress displays this box, suggesting that we change the permalinks. This is a good idea because the default setting, which consists of a question mark and a number, is not very user-friendly for either users or Google, which we’re going to change now.
You can either click on this “Change, Permalinks” box here, or you can go to “Settings, Permalinks” and do it there. We’ll choose the month and the name “Save Changes,” and that’s done, now we’re going to point WordPress to the two pages that we created.
We’re going to do that in Settings and Reading, so we’re going to select a static page. It’s going to be the one we created called Home, and our posts page, the one called News, and we’re going to click Save.
So what have we done here? For a blog, you would typically have the list of posts as the home page here. Since we’re thinking of a website with a separate home page on the News page, we’ll tell WordPress to show a static page for the home page and have a separate page that lists the blog or news articles again change that later.
If needed, we take a quick look at the front end to check. Here is our website and you will see. We have a home page and a news page, although obviously, we don’t have any posts yet. You may have noticed about the home page because we have a comment box displayed here at the bottom of the pages for some pages.
That may be what you want, but for the vast majority, it’s likely that you’ll only want comments on posts or news articles and not on the pages themselves, and it’s worth it because now we’re going to populate our site with pages. It makes sense to turn off the comments feature by default, build it outside, and then turn it back on later for new posts.
So let’s go back to our dashboard. We’ll do this in the settings discussion, and then there’s a box here that says: permit individuals to submit comments on brand new posts.
Therefore we’ll disable that scroll down click save changes now that we’ve disabled, that any new pages that we create won’t have the comments box on them. Still, the two pages that we’ve already created also, so we’ll just quickly change that to go into pages all pages, and we’ll use the quick edit option here, and we’ll disable that.
Allow comments on each of the pages that we created. We’re going to go back to the front end and refresh it, and you’ll see that the comments box is gone.
Now we’re ready to go into a little bit of detail. Before we do that, we need to familiarize ourselves with two essential concepts in WordPress. The first of these is a WordPress theme. This is the web. The description of a theme is the analogy of a car. If the core WordPress software is the engine and transmission, then the theme is the body and exterior. WordPress themes are widely available.
If you do a Google, you will certainly find hunt thousand. Some are free, some are paid, or you can create your theme from scratch. A quick word of caution here, it’s generally best to stick to trusted sources for WordPress themes, as some infamous sites offer free themes with a Nasty Virus.
An excellent place to look is the official WordPress theme directory. All of these themes have been checked and vetted, so let’s go here to Appear Themes and go to Install Themes at the top.
This search here will go away and use the official directory. So if we try, this will return all the themes in the WordPress directory that match the keywords, and you can see the variety of themes displayed here. We’ll select one of them: Randomly click install, it will take a minute to download, and then we will activate it.
This theme immediately goes to the front-end of our website, and when we refresh, you’ll immediately see that this rather flashy but very different theme is active. If we go back to our 2020 theme, which is our original one, and activate it, a refresh will come back to the live site, and you’ll see that we’re back to where we were. Themes can also make WordPress work differently.
The WordPress core software is not changed and should not be changed. Themes can change the front-end functionality or the way the dashboard looks and works. The beauty of WordPress themes is that they are, or should be, self-contained in terms of all the CSS.
All of the individual files that make up part of the website are in the themes folder – let’s take a quick look at that now, so let’s go over and look at our WordPress Directory.
Here, inside of WP Content, you’ll see a themes folder, and inside of that are the themes that are available to us, the one that we just downloaded child’s play is all in this directory. This is where we covered the basics of themes.
Let’s talk about templates, so what is a template? Well, think of it as another layout. For example, a simple site might have a homepage template where the content takes up the entire width of the page or a subpage template that has a navigation bar on one page, or a gallery template to showcase projects or products, and so on.
We’re not going to worry about what our templates look like today, but we will look at a powerful way to use WordPress to populate different templates with different content in WordPress.
Templates are primarily individual files within our theme, folder and once you’ve added a template and given it, some code tells WordPress that this is a template. This blog post will create templates using the default 2020 WordPress theme, but I will follow best practices by doing what I call a child theme.
To avoid any 2020 updates overwriting the changes I make, the child theme is not covered in this blog, but again, you can find lots of information on the web on how to do this. So first, I’m going to select my child theme under Appearance Themes.
So that’s this one that I created earlier, and I click activate. If we go back to the front-end, you’ll notice that absolutely nothing has changed. All I’ve done is tell WordPress to use the same theme as before.
Only now can I safely make some changes to it without overwriting it with your text or code editor, opens your theme folder, and creates a new file there. It can have any name as long as it doesn’t conflict with any of the WordPress files.
Now we will tell WordPress that this is a template file. To do this, we’ll paste the following code above and also paste the default, header, and footer sidebar code. Our next step is to use the custom fields built into WordPress.
These have been part of WordPress for some time and allow developers to add additional content to any page or post. The problem has been that these are not as user-friendly as they could be. Until today, it was not configurable on a per-template basis, which meant that if you created a custom field on one page, it was visible on all of your pages.
We will install a powerful plugin called advanced custom fields that will allow us to display fields on a per-template basis to help us with that. It still uses WordPress‘s native custom fields but overlays a user-friendly interface on top of them. It’s a free plugin, but there are options to expand the field types by paying for premium fields.
After installing and activate the plugin, you will undoubtedly see the Custom Fields option here in the left menu, so let’s go to Custom Fields. We’re going to add a new field group and call it Personal Details.
Now we’re going to add three fields: a biofield, which we’re going to make into a WYSIWYG field, a job title field, which we’re going to leave as plain text, and a mugshot as well, this one we’re going to make into an image, and now here’s the perfect thing about the advanced custom fields, which is that you can display these fields depending on a variety of conditions in this field.
Here you may decide to show or even conceal these fields depending on whether it’s a page or a post, whether it’s part of a specific post category or post type, and so on. We’re interested in now showing these fields only when users are editing a page that uses the Staff Details template. To do that, we’ll select “Page Template is the same” and then our Staff Detail Template.
Before we leave this screen, we’ll also scroll down and check the box next to “Hide on screen” to get rid of our default WordPress “What you see is what you get” field later. You’ll find that you’ll want to do this depending on your particular scenario. Still, we’re going to hide it, for now, so we’re going to click “Publish” and create a new staff member, so we’re going to go to “Pages,” “Add New.” This time we’re going to select “Staff Details” from our template dropdown on the right side here.
You’ll notice that the edit page is dynamically refreshed when we do this and now shows the three fields we just created, so the biofield up here, a rich text field, a single line of text, and the job title, and our image field. So we’ll add “Jane Smith,” we’ll enter a bio, we’ll enter a job title, and we’ll select an image, and then we’ll click publish, and the staff page on the front end of the website doesn’t show anything yet, but we’ll change that now.
First, we’re going to click back into our custom field, a space that we created, and we’re going to make a note of those field names. So we have Bio Job Underline Title, and Mugshot Advanced Custom Fields created as you go, but you can edit them if you need to. We’ll jump into the personals template and now go put in some code with those in mind.
Advanced custom fields provide some functions, but the ones you’ll use most often are the Get Underscore field and the Underscore field. The former gets the data from your specific field, and the latter displays it. The way you do this is entirely up to you and your programming preferences, but I’m going to fetch the data here at the top of the page and then display it a bit further down.
Now that I’ve got my code in, I’ll click save, go back to our staff page and update it, and it’ll display our three content items precisely as we expect. I have now added another Staff. Member page John Jones with various details filled in published it and you will see.
As expected, we have the same template but different content populating that template. We’ve only looked at the basics here, but hopefully, you can see how we can now start to create blocks of content that can be assigned to specific templates.
This basic functionality can be extended in all sorts of ways. Finally, before we wrap up well, let’s take a look at the main navigation menu. WordPress supports two types of menus. The first automatically add items to the menu as pages are added, and that’s the type we’ve seen so far on our primary site. The second is more manual but allows editors much more control over what these menus display.
We will now use this second option to switch to these appearance menus, assuming our theme supporter can add and activate a custom menu. Choose a menu name, such as top navigation, create the men, select it for our primary menu, and click Save Now. If we go back to our site’s front-end and refresh again, you’ll see that nothing at all is displayed in our primary navigation. To change that, select the items you want, click Add to Menu, and drag and drop them into the order you want.
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