WordPress Website Guide
Thank you for purchasing your website from WPDesigns. I look forward to developing our relationship together and helping you with any website-related tasks or projects you may have now or in the future. I have created this “WordPress Website Guide” to help you with some of the basics on your site, this will help you with logging in, backing up, adding to, updating and the basics of editing your site.
This is still a new guide and as such needs some refining in certain areas – this will come when I have enough free time. If you need help on something I haven’t mentioned don’t hesitate to get in touch and I can give you an answer or point you in the right direction. I would also love to hear from you if you have any suggestions of content to add to the guide that would be useful to you. You can contact me through email@example.com, or through the WhatsApp Live chat. I will be looking to add a Woocommerce guide in the future.
In the guide I have made references to other posts and some are marked as “Coming Soon“. I am currently in the process of writing and finishing these guides and they will be linked to this post as soon as they are completed.
1. Logging In
We assume you are already logged in to your site but if not you will need to add /wp-admin to your domain URL (unless the site security has been upgraded then it will be customised) for example yourdomain.com/wp-admin. This will redirect you to your admin login page. After you have logged in you will have access to the WordPress Dashboard and all of the following options.
2. Creating New User Accounts
To create a new user account you need to navigate to the left menu bar on the WordPress Dashboard and hover over “Users”, from here you can select “Add New”.
There are a few points to keep in mind when creating a new username for your website.
- The Username to be used for logging into your site should not be “Admin”
- The role given to the user will dictate the emails that the user receives from the site. If they are an administrator they will receive more than an editor or customer for example.
- The email given here can be used to login and reset the password.
- It is not necessary to fill out your real first and last names and these can be later used as your display name.
- It is recommended to click “Show Password” and change the password generated by a password manager such as Master Password. This is a key piece of information that needs to be incredibly strong in order to help avoid the website getting hacked.
- Be sure to give the new user the correct role, giving them a role too high for their needs can be dangerous as they will be able to access more than needed and there could be intentional or unintentional damage.
3. Backing Up The Website
Maintaining an up to date backup of your website both on and offline is an important part of owning a website. If there is ever any issue with a plugin update, theme update, security breach, hack, plugin conflict, or any number of other reasons, then being able to restore a version of your website is hugely important. To make this process as easy as possible we have set your website up with Updraft backups. In the following steps, we will briefly explain how to backup your site and make sure that it stays healthy, fast and secure. If you have purchased a WPDesigns Support & Maintenance Package then this will be done automatically for you and an online and offline version will be made.
For added safety, I will often run a backup of the site once it has been completed but I would recommend running it yourself to gain an understanding of how to do it in the future.
3.1 Creating The Backup
To create a new backup you must be on the WordPress Dashboard if you are not here you can add /wp-admin to your domain URL to be taken there (or to the login screen if you have not already logged in).
Once at the Dashboard look to the left-hand side menu and hover over “Settings”, then click “UpdraftPlus Backups”.
When you are on the Updraft Backup page you can look to the right to see the large button marked “Backup Now”. Clicking this button will securely back up your website.
Make sure to tick the top two boxes to backup both the database and the files.
After the backup has been completed you should download the files it creates to your computer so that you have both an online and an offline copy. To do this simply click the files it creates under “Backup data (click to download)” and you can directly download them to your computer. Having an offline copy is important because it will be there if anything was to happen to your site, it is a point of safety to which you can return. Having a virtual copy is useful to restore the site for a minor issue but if it all goes wrong then an offline backup should save it.
3.2 Restoring The Backup
After the backup has been created and you have downloaded the offline files, it is worth having a look at how you can also restore the backup too.
In order to restore a WordPress backup using Updraft, you need to look under the “Backup Now” to see the created files. The smaller blue button marked “Restore” will let you bring your site back to the state at which it is in that saved backup file. Simply click this button and follow the on-screen instructions.
Select the areas of the website you wish to restore and click “Next”. This will automatically run through the restoration process and bring the site back to the earlier state.
4. Website Security
4.1 Password Security
For a minimum level of basic website security, I would suggest having a password manager. To manage your passwords I would strongly suggest using Master Password but another password manager will work, Master password is an excellent password manager that randomly generate usernames and passwords when you enter a combination of details. We have created a guide to Master Password as it is one of our favourite tools, I would highly recommend that you use it to improve your security. The average website is under continuous attacks from hackers and bots who are attempting to gain access to your website. They will try usernames and password combinations over and over again until they find one that works. Using a strong password of around 20 characters is recommended and also not matching your login username to your display name greatly reduces the chance of them gaining access.
Further security measures can be undertaken and are also highly recommended. If you purchase one of our website maintenance packages your website security is upgraded for free.
4.2 Security Upgrades
WordPress as a platform is generally quite secure, it is one of the most popular website content management systems on the internet, owning about 54% of the websites using a content management system. Due to it being so popular websites built using this platform will often come under repeated hacking attempts from groups and bots. The attempts to gain access are often directed at the /wp-admin login page due to the predictable location of the page.
Whilst WordPress is a secure platform there is always more to be done to prevent a more determined and dedicated hacking attempt.
In order to increase the security of your website you should make sure the following are followed and secured:
- Ensure all users who have backend access to the site have strong passwords
- Enable two-factor authentication
- Change the URL of the login page
- Block users, IPs and hosts who repeatedly enter incorrect details
- Instantly block any login attempts using the username “admin”
- Block users scanning for Error 404 pages as they are often looking for pages to exploit
- Set an away mode option so that the login page can only be accessed at certain times of the day – during office opening hours for example
- Regular backups of the site and database
- Enable file change detection
- Secure all the necessary file permissions to stop unauthorised changes
- Limit the length of URLs that can be used on the site
- Disable PHP execution in Themes, Plugins and Uploads
- Refresh and update the Salts of the WordPress passwords on your site
- Disable file editing, spam comments and XML-RPC
- Ensure logins are using reCaptcha from Google
- Keep track of login attempts and blocked IPs through a dashboard widget
- Disable Author lookups to stop people harvesting the usernames for login attempts
This is not an exhaustive list but if you are serious about your website security these should be followed and enabled.
5. Adding Content & Editing Pages
Being able to edit and add content safely by yourself is a key reason I have written this WordPress Website Guide. Adding and updating content is a big part of running a website (for many businesses) whether it is updating the home page hero image or pushing the latest promotion to your visitors. Keeping your website looking current and matching your business is the best practice for your business both physically and virtually.
5.1 Adding a New Page
In order to add a page, you must be on the WordPress Dashboard. Look to the left to find the “Pages” menu tab and hover over it. You can then move down and select “Add New Page”.
On the new page creation screen, you can add your page title and then either create the page with the Gutenburg block editor or you can use Elementor. The Gutenburg block editor works well and is fairly simple to use, Elementor is more complex but can produce a much better end result. You can find instructions on adding widgets, editing widgets in sections below.
5.1 Editing a Page
There are several ways to be able to edit the pages on your website but the most simple way is to be on the WordPress Dashboard and select “Pages” from the left-hand navigation bar, then hover over the page you would like to see. From here you will see the option “Edit with Elementor” and you can click that to open your page in edit mode.
Once content or an edit has been made you will need to check how it looks on all the devices, desktop, tablet and mobile using the screen button located 4th from the left next to the publish button in the bottom left.
5.2 Editing Text
To the edit, the text on your webpage, find the text you wish to edit and click on it.
By clicking on it you will open up a box on the left of the screen and you can make your changes in there. You can edit directly on the page but I find that sometimes there are issues that arise with formating doing it this way.
5.3 Adding a Hyperlink
You can add a hyperlink in your website content text to go to another page or website.
- Click the text section you’d like to add the hyperlink
- Highlight the text through the box on the left-hand side
- Click the link button above the text box which resembles a paper clip
- Search for a page on your site or enter an external URL. If linking to another site be sure to add HTTPS:// or HTTP:// depending.
- Once done, you can direct the link to open a new page through the hyperlink by clicking the cog icon next to the text input box and selecting “Open in a new tab”
5.4 Optimising Your Image
Before adding the image to your website I would highly suggest following these 4 steps below to make sure your image is the correct image file format and compressed. We have written about optimising your images in greater detail in our post on image optimisation.(Coming soon)
- Make sure your image is the correct file format for the type of image you will be using. You can learn more about website file formats in this linked post.
- The selected image is not too big or small for the size it will be displayed at.
- Compress the image using a website such as Optimizilla to reduce the file size and maintain a fast loading page.
- You can now upload the image to your site. For a more in-depth look at how to follow these steps see our guide on WordPress image optimisation. (Coming soon)
5.5 Editing an Image Widget
Note: If the image is set as a background image then different steps need to be taken.
Editing the Elementor image widget is a fairly simple process. Click on the image itself or the blue pen in the top right corner to open the image editor. With the editor open click the image box and open the media library.
With the media library open you can click and select the image you want to add and then click “Insert Image”. This will insert your chosen image into the widget.
5.6 Editing a Background Image
To edit a background image you will need to hover over the section you wish to change. As you hold your mouse over it, look at the top that section for a button – depending on the type of section you have chosen to edit will dictate the button that appears, for columns, it will be the black button (as pictures) and for an entire section, it will be a blue button with 6 dots in rows of three in the centre of a selection of 3 buttons. Depending on which you have you either click the black button or the middle icon that looks like 6 dots and it will open up the section panel.
From here navigate yourself to the style tab and then background should be the first option on the list. You will have the option to add an image file from your media library, a solid colour, a colour gradient, a video file or slide show.
Once you have selected your image, video etc you will have another set of options with which you will be able to adjust how the image repeats itself, how it is stretched to cover the background, the fixation and the positioning of the image. Be aware these will need to be set for each of the views – desktop, mobile and tablet.
6. Adding Content
To add content to your site follow the steps given in section “4. Editing or Adding a Pages” to access the page you would like to add content to.
Click the widget icon in the top right of the screen to access the widgets. From here you can select whichever widget you would like and drag it over to the page. There will be a blue highlighted line which will indicate that you can add it in that location. Once you have added your new widget you can look to the left-hand menu bar and add the content you need.
This will work for all widgets and will also allow you to add inner sections to create columns and interesting designs.
Plugins are key components of any WordPress website. A well-written plugin can offer you security, functionality and performance whereas a poorly written plugin can slow down your site and leave a backdoor for hackers to exploit and enter.
Keeping the plugins on your site up to date is of utmost importance but that does not mean that they should be updated automatically without consideration. Making sure you have both an online and offline backup of your website before you update plugins is important as a plugin update which conflicts another can have dire consequences which will break your site. On the other hand, if you do not update the site then you run the risk of leaving an exploit open to hackers and having compatibility issues with the latest versions of other plugins or WordPress.
Note: Having too many plugins on your website can slow things down dramatically and any unwanted/ unneeded plugins should be deactivated and removed. This will not only stop your website from loading unnecessary data but it will also stop hackers from being able to exploit any issues in the code of the plugins. We aim to use the minimum number of plugins that we can and use code for as much as possible.
7.1 Adding, Activating & Updating Plugins
Adding a plugin is a fairly simple and painless process. You can find plugins from the WordPress Dashboard. Look to the left-hand side menu and you will see “Plugins”, hover over this and select “Add New”. This will bring you to the plugin page and database. In this database is a huge amount of plugins for almost anything you can think of.
There are two ways to add plugins to your site. The first is by typing in the name of the plugin, finding the one you want and clicking “Install”. Once it has installed you can click “Activate” and it will be added to your site and activated.
The other option is to download a plugin file from another location or site and upload the file directly to the site. To do this follow the aforementioned steps but instead of entering your text into the search, look to the top left and you will see a button marked “Upload Plugin”. Clicking on this button will open up a file explorer and you can either drag and drop the file you have from your computer files or you can click “Choose File” and search for it manually in your files.
To view the plugins you have installed simply click “Plugins” on the left-hand menu and it will open up a page containing all the plugins you have installed. From this page, you can deactivate, activate, delete, update plugins and also set them to auto-update (which I don’t advise).
8. WordPress Core Updates
WordPress core updates do not happen as often as plugin updates but they are very important when they happen. The WordPress team will release updates most often to patch security issues which are needed to keep your site secure. They will also release updates to add new features and improve performance.
When there is a new update to be added it will appear on your WordPress Dashboard. It is important to back up your site before you make the update as you may have an issue with the latest update. Simply click the update and follow the onscreen instructions. Once the update has been made check your site from a private or incognito browser to double-check that everything is running well.
9. Updating PHP Level
Updating the PHP for your website is an important and vital part of maintaining a healthy and secure website. PHP updates can increase the performance of your website and patch security issues similar to the WordPress Core updates. However, the PHP Level is important as PHP is the code that WordPress is based upon and the latest PHP is the cleanest and best version.
If your site is being hosted by WPDesigns Hosting then I will make sure that the PHP is always up to date for you.
To update your PHP level you will need to have access to your CPanel account or send a message to your host. Sending a message to your web host will often prompt them to make the update for you. After you/ they have made the update double check your site to make sure everything is still running as it should. An out of date plugin or theme may have compatibility issues with the PHP and will need to be updated or removed if it is no longer possible to update and causing compatibility issues.
10. Maintenance Packages
For the future of your website
Here at WPDesigns, we offer several different Maintenance Packages aimed at making your life easier and making sure that your website stays up to date, fast, efficient and secure. Our maintenance packages will ensure that all the updates are made and the site is securely backed up through regular backups both online and offline.
We offer professional support for your website to help you sort out any issues you may have, create pages, make edits, fix problems, find conflicts and speed issues etc. We offer support through either our Maintenance Packages or at an hourly rate. You can purchase a Maintenance Packages above or get in contact with us directly through our email or live chat to discuss the maintenance you need to have carried out.
If you have purchased hosting from WPDesigns then we can also sort out any hosting related issues. If you are not with one of our hosting packages we would suggest talking first to your hosting provider although we are happy to do this if you do not feel comfortable explaining the problem or understand what the issue is.
We want to ensure that your website stays online and maintains a pleasant end-user experience for you and your customers.