Making Your First Blog Post with WordPress v2.5.1

The change in the WordPress Dashboard from version 2.3 to 2.5 is impressive. Right away I liked the clean look and the color choice was pleasing to the eyes. The style of the admin pages for managing the blog match the style of the wordpress website. Perhaps they went together on prior versions, but now they look like they belong together.

A few images of the dashboard will show you some of the features in this newest version of WordPress.

The Dashboard in WordPress, version 2.5

Once logged in you’ll be shown the Dashboard where you can reach all parts of your blog. Major menu items include Write, Manage, Design and Comments. At the very top right there are links for logging out, getting help and visiting the WordPress forum.

Clicking on your username, at the top right, brings up your profile page where you can modify personal options, such as your choice of color scheme and your contact info.

Modify user profile options here.

Probably the most helpful thing to know about your profile is that this is where you can re-set your own password. New here is the password strength checker – a nice touch. Remember to hit Update Profile at the bottom of the screen to make your changes stick.

Re-setting your password is as simple as filling in the blanks at your user profile. Don\'t forget to hit \'Update Profile\' when you\'re ready.

Notice that the ‘Users’ tab is highlighted. Clicking on ‘Authors & Users’, on the top left, brings up a page where you can add a new user, enter their contact info and choose their role.

Roles specify the capabilities of a given user and range from administrator, who has all capabilities, down to subscriber, who can merely read and comment on your blog. Intermediate roles of editor, author and contributor have fewer capabilities than the administrator.

Add new users and manage existing ones via the User tab.

Going back to the Dashboard, notice the “Right Now” feature that is sort of in your face. Well, that’s its real purpose – to alert you to the latest of ongoings in your blog. The number of posts, pages, categories, tags, the current theme and version of WordPress are indicated with links to edit each one. Big buttons are here for easy access to write a page or to write a post.

Latest happenings on your blog are featured under \'Right Now\' on the Dashboard.

Further down the Dashboard are sections for handling comments, incoming links and plugins. Also on the dashboard are links to the latest writings of some of the top WordPress developers. Scan through these posts for the most up-to-date news on WordPress.

Finally, you can always reach more info about WordPress by going to the footer and clicking on WordPress or Documentation. Keep reading and keep learning!

WordPress links at the bottom of each admin page will take you to WordPress places on the Internet for help.

To make a blog entry click on ‘Write a New Post’ from the Dashboard, or select ‘Write’ from the main menu. Simply enter a title, some text in the ‘Post’ box and, at the right of your screen, click on ‘Save’ if you’re not ready to publish the post or click on ‘Publish’ if you are ready.

The \'Write Post\' screen where you enter your blog postings.

Even if you haven’t used a word processor before now, embellishing your post is easy. Just click on B and your words will be bold, click on I and they’re italicized, and so on. For a fast reminder of what each button at the top of the Post box does, just hover your mouse pointer over it and a tool tip will remind you.

Tool tips appear when you hover your pointer on a button at the top of the Post box.

Make lists, justify your text, add an image and even check your spelling with a single click. Check out the options for adding other media to your post.

Four buttons at the top of the Post box are ready to help you add images, video, audio or other media. The wait might not be worth it if you don’t have a broadband connection, but give it a try anyway.

Buttons at the top of the Post box let you easily add media to your blog posts.

Not enough options for you? Check this out…click on the button that looks kinda like a keyboard and you’ll get the kitchen sink!

Turn on the kitchen sink to get more writing options.

Go ahead, hover around and see what else you can do easily by toggling features on and off.

Lots of writing options are available for spicing up your WordPress blog posts.

If you’re into the code, click on HTML at the top right of the Post box and you’ll see a new set of buttons for the html tags that you can enter or close with a single click.

Know the code? Click on HTML to see the tags behind the goodness.

Click Publish and you’re done! Go and visit your blog to see your post.

Upgrade Your WordPress Blog to the Latest Version

Ready to take the plunge and finally upgrade your WordPress blog to the latest version? It’s not that bad and, actually, when I upgraded from version 2.3 to 2.5.1 I had a pleasant experience. It’s funny that I put off upgrading the blogging software just in case I had trouble with it. I didn’t want to spend the time dinkering around. Turns out that I didn’t need to worry because the upgrade was breeze.

Follow these helpful backup and upgrade steps to update your WordPress blog to the latest and most secure version.

KISS Me, WordPress! Easy Category List for Stylesheet and ID for Pages

Keep IT Simple, Stupid.

In my way of making things harder than necessary I stumbled upon something simple. At times nothing seems simple with CSS! Check it out.

Trying to style a particular post, based on whether it was a password-protected post or not, I found that using the category assigned could help – on the condition that one category name was reserved for the password-protected posts. Look at this piece of WordPress code:

<?php foreach((get_the_category()) as $cat)
{
echo $cat->category_nicename;
}
?>

Basically, what we are asking for here is to create an array that holds the names of the categories, and then return the nice names of each category in lowercase and with multiple words separated by hypens.

So, being able to assign category names on the fly gives us the ability to assign classes based on the category. Use the above PHP code snippet in the index.php, category.php and single.php files of your WP theme.

Remembering that we can assign more than one class to an xhtml feature, on line 5 or 6 in each of the 3 files replace

<div class="post"

with

<div id="post" class="post cat-<?php foreach((get_the_category()) as $cat)
{
echo $cat->category_nicename;
}
?>"

Now, in your stylesheet you can target classes like cat-owls, cat-hawks and cat-bald-eagles on your site about big birds.

The KISS part comes in where I was going through steps to create a page template to replace a Page that was already written so that I could style it differently than the rest of the blog. What? Instead of going through all that, all I needed to do was pick up the ID number of the “post” of that page. Duh!

How simple of me to forget that the pages, as well as the posts, that we write in WordPress are assigned ID numbers. Just use the #page-ID in your stylesheet! Oh yeah, pick up the ID numbers of posts and pages in the admin area under Manage/ Posts or Pages.

Too Many Plugins Slow Down Your WordPress Blog

I know you’re crazy about using plugins for your WordPress blogs. I am, too!

Plugins can enhance your blogs in so many ways. Do you want to encourage readers to sign up for your RSS feed? Is cutting down or eliminating comment spam important to you? How about optimizing your blog pings, streamlining your SEO efforts, automating backups, or even creating an archives page?

WordPress Plugins can be found for these and many other tasks. Check out the WordPress Plugin Directory where you can search over 1,500 plugins. Download as many as you want and try them out. No doubt you will find some real keepers.

The only caution here is that some plugins may not be updated to work with your WP version. Check the authors’ website to pick up the important details about the plugins you like. The best and most stable plugins are usually updated fairly quickly after WP is updated.

The downside to loading up your blogs with plugins is that too much of a good thing is…well, too much! Too many requests to your server to create your pages and your visitors are outta there. Why? It just takes too long. Also, all those plugins need to be kept up-to-date, so that means more time spent on blog maintenance.

Check to see if your theme and all the plugins you use are taking up too much server time by adding one line to the footer.php file of your theme:

<!-- <?php echo get_num_queries(); ?> queries -->

Essentially, we’re calling on the server to tell us how many times the server was accessed to create your page. The only way you will see the result of get_num_queries() is to go to your blog and View > Page Source. Look for a comment line in the footer, something like

<!-- 12 queries -->

If you see more than 20 or so queries, your server is being worked too hard and your pages will load slowly. Deactivate plugins, one at a time, and refresh your blog page. You’ll see the number of server requests, or queries, drop.

Delete plugins that are too costly in terms of the number of queries they demand and you’ll find a happy medium between too many requests that slow down your server and too few requests that make for a dull blogging experience.