Building and Editing Your Own Website


Originally a designed as a blogging platform, Wordpress is now a full-featured Web Content Management System (CMS). Popular among users ranging from individual bloggers to Fortune 500 companies, Wordpress is a free software tool that can be used to create and manage basic websites with little or no coding knowledge. Since Wordpress is Open Source, users with HTML, CSS and PHP coding knowledge can create highly complex, customized websites by editing the underlying code.

About this Class

This manual provides a basic introduction to the Wordpress interface and explores commonly user features by guiding students through the creation of a simple website.

During this class, students will:


Basic computer operation skills (mouse, keyboard, file management)

Other Requirements

Creating an Account

Before we can build a WordPress site, we first need to create a Wordpress.com account. In this section, we’ll sign up for and activate a new WordPress account.

Registering Your Account

  1. Open a web browser, such as Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer and Navigate to http://wordpress.com/

  2. Click the "Create Website" button near the center of the screen

    create website
  3. Follow the provided instructions to complete the sign-up process. Choosing options that describe your desired site helps WordPress to suggest themes and designs that make sense for your project.

    You are free to choose whatever suits your project, but some instructions will be specific to the theme we are using in this manual. In this manual we will choose "Family, Home, & Lifestyle", then "Travel", then "A welcome page for my site", then the "Motif" theme.

  4. Choose a domain. You can choose a custom domain (included in WordPress Premium), or a free ".wordpress.com" address.

    If you’re unsure what to choose for your Blog Address, just use your name (lower case, no spaces - i.e. buckybadger) for now. You can always change it later. See http:// en.support.wordpress.com/changing-blog-address/ for instructions.

  5. Choose a plan for your account. The free plan perfectly fine for now, but you can always upgrade later if you choose.

  6. Create your account by giving your email address. Be sure to use a real email address! You’ll need to check your email in order to activate your account.

  7. Check your email for a confirmation message and click the link in it to confirm your account.

    email confirmation

If You Already Have a WordPress Account

  1. Open a web browser, such as Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer and Navigate to http://wordpress.com/

  2. Log in to your account

  3. Click the My Sites tab at the top of the screen

  4. Click "Add New Site"

    add new site
  5. Follow the same instructions as above to create a new site by selecting a theme and domain.


The Navigation Bar

navigation bar

Appearing on the left side of your page when you click "My Site", the Navigation Bar is your primary control point for managing your site. It has options to quickly add things like blog posts and pages, as well as edit your site theme and settings.

Navigating between your Blog and Dashboard

Clicking the name of your site at the top of the Navigation Bar will bring up a quick preview of your site, with options to view it as it would look on a computer, tablet, or phone. If you would like to actually open your site you can right-click and choose "Open Link in New Tab".


If you are interested in how many visits your site gets and want to gain some insight into which posts and pages are most popular, visit your Stats page! Your stats page includes graphs, charts, and lists that provide viewer traffic details.

The following are not reflected in your stats:


The Insights tab shows information about your posting activity, such as when and how frequently you post. It also displays information about your most recent post, as well as the number of Views, Visitors, Likes, and Comments you've received on your site.


This information can also be broken down into specific days, weeks, months, and years by clicking the corresponding tabs. This may be useful for finding correlations between the popularity of your posts and the date and time they were posted, among other factors.


In this section we will discuss the various ways and types of content to add to your site.

Blog Posts

Wordpress allows you to add two types of content to your site: Pages and Posts. Posts are chunks of content that are displayed, by default, in reverse chronological order on your home page, although they can be displayed on another page in your site instead. Posts make up the blog portion of a Wordpress website.

If you chose to have a welcome page for your site like our example, your blog posts will be on a separate blog page.

Creating New Posts

Adding a new post to your blog is very simple and can be done right from the Navigation Bar.

  1. In the Navigation Bar on the left, click the button next to Blog Posts labeled "Add"

    navigation bar
  2. In the field at the top where it says "Title", type a title for your blog post

  3. Type some text into the editor. Here we have used some filler text from Corporate Ipsum, a variant of Lorem Ipsum.

    Note that there are two tabs at the top of the editor: Visual and HTML. The Visual tab operates very much like a basic word processing program. The HTML tab shows the corresponding HTML code, which you can edit if you like.

    text example

Tagging and Categorizing

Tags and Categories allow you to group your posts together in order to make it easier for your visitors to find related content on your site. Tags and Categories are very similar, however, Tags are typically much more specific than Categories. Also, Categories can be structured in a hierarchy, while Tags cannot.

It is common to add many tags to a post in order to describe all the topics that the post discusses, but only one or two categories, which describe the overall topic of the post.

For example, a post about frogs might be categorized under "Frogs", but tagged with the terms "tadpole", "amphibian", "poison dart frog", "tree frog", and "American dart frog".

In this exercise, we will add several tags to the post that we created in the previous exercise.

  1. Click on the "Categories & Tags" section in the Navigation Bar

    tags and categories
  2. To tag a post, type a word into the Tags box. You can enter multiple terms at once by separating the terms with a comma. WordPress will automatically split your tags up when you type a comma.

  3. To delete a tag, Click on the small “x” next it.

Categories can also be easily added to keep track of your posts. Let's add some categories to our new post.

  1. To Categorize a post you must first create a Category. Click under Categories where it says "Add a New Category".

  2. Give your new category a name. Recall that Categories can be hierarchical. You can choose to give it a parent category if you like, or you can choose to make it a top level category.

    new categories
  3. Click the blue "Add" button to add your new category. In addition to being attached to the current post, categories are added to your category library and can be used again on other posts.

  4. Uncheck the "Uncategorized" category now that we have assigned a category (or several) to this post. By default, WordPress adds the "Uncategorized" category to new posts.


Adding Media

A WordPress site with nothing but text can get relatively boring. In order to add interest to posts and pages, Wordpress allows you to embed images, videos, and audio files into your posts and pages.

Images are the simplest way to add interest to your posts and pages. In this exercise we’ll add a single image to the post we created in the previous section. Note that, although we’re working with a Post in this exercise, the process for adding images is the same for Pages.

  1. Click the "Add Media" button located on the far left of the Editor bar.

    add media

    From the media manager, we can upload a new image or select a previously uploaded image from our Media Library. Within the media manager you can select a specific type of file via the bar along the top. The "Motif" theme has two default images, but we will upload a new image of our own.

  2. Click the blue "Add New" button.

  3. Navigate to the location where you downloaded the class files and select "badger.jpg" then click "Open" to choose it.

    Selecting more than one image will create a gallery of images.

  4. The badger image should now be highlighted in blue. Click the blue "Insert" button to add it to your post.

  5. To edit the image settings, click on the image in the editor. Alignment of the image can be switched by the buttons on the left side. The size can be increased or decreased by clicking the "-" and "+" buttons. A caption can be added by clicking the speech bubble and typing under the image. To delete the image, click the "X" icon.

    image settings

Adding by URL

Images can also be added by URL if you want to use an image someone else has hosted, rather than from your own computer.

  1. Again, click the "Add Media" button located on the far left of the Editor bar.

  2. This time, click the gray "Add via URL" button next to the blue "Add New" button.

  3. Paste the URL of the desired image into address bar, then click the blue "Upload" button to the right.

    address bar
  4. The image you uploaded should now be highlighted in blue. Click the blue "Insert" button to add it to your post.

Video and Audio Embedding

In addition to images, other types of media, such as audio and video, can also be embedded into posts and pages. WordPress provides a way to embed other media by using a Shortcode.

Shortcodes are short bits of Wordpress-specific code that can be typed directly into the Visual editor. These short bits of code each refer to a lengthy chunk of code buried deep in the Wordpress software that causes some neat thing to happen. The complete list of Wordpress Shortcodes and the neat things that they cause to happen is available here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/shortcodes/

Be sure to check out the "Full Instructions" link beside each Shortcode description for details on how to use a particular Shortcode.

In the following exercise we'll embed a SoundCloud audio file into a page using a shortcode.

  1. Navigate to https://soundcloud.com/ and search for an audio track by typing some text into the search box.

  2. Locate an interesting track in the search results and click the Share button beneath the track image.

  3. In the pop-up window that opens, choose the Embed tab and check the box by "Wordpress Code".

    wordpress code
  4. Copy the code that appears in the box.

  5. Return to the browser tab that contains your Wordpress site Dashboard

  6. Paste the copied code in the Visual tab of the editor, in the approximate location that you want the audio player to appear.

JetPack Documentation

The shortcodes available to WordPress users are part of a suite of plugins called Jetpack. YouTube and SoundCloud are not the only things users can embed into their WordPress sites via shortcodes. You can also embed content from Dailymotion, Flickr, Blip.tv, and Google Maps. There are also a host of customizations that can be made using options added to the short codes.

In order to access the Jetpack documentation, simply navigate to jetpack.me in a web browser.

The shortcodes discussed earlier are listed under "Writing" in the Support tab found on the top right. From there instructions are provided about how to control additional options like width and height for each type of shortcode embed.


Preview and Publish

Now that we finally have an interesting page loaded with content, let's get ready to show it to the world.

First, we will Preview our post to make sure it looks satisfactory.

  1. From the Post editing page that we were on, click the gray "Preview" button in the left Navigation Bar.

    navigation bar
  2. In the window that pops up you can see a preview of your post. Try clicking the icons to see how it would appear on a computer versus a tablet versus a phone. The "X" on the left will close the preview.

  3. When you are satisfied with the way it appears, click the blue "Publish" button.

  4. If the post was successfully published you will see a green banner across the top of the post. Click "View Post" to see the post on your site.

    view post


Wordpress allows you to add two types of content to your site: pages and posts. Pages are usually used for content that doesn't change much, like your contact or information "about me" information. In this section, we'll learn to create, edit, and delete pages.

Creating New Pages

In this exercise, we’ll create a new Wordpress page.

  1. In the Navigation Bar on the far left, click Pages. This will display a list of all the pages currently included in your site.


    The Posts we've already made can be found on the Blog page.

  2. Click the "Add" button to the right of Pages.

    add pages

    The basic layout WordPress provides looks a lot like a new Post! This is very convenient because all the things we have learned about Posts also apply to Pages.

  3. Go ahead and give your new Page a title. We'll call ours "Gallery" because we will make an image gallery page in this example.

Adding a Gallery

  1. Click the "Add Media" button located on the far left of the Editor bar.

    editor bar
  2. Click the blue "Add New" button and navigate to your class-files folder again.

  3. Upload "cabbage.jpg", "carrots.jpg", and "green_beans.jpg" to WordPress.

  4. Once the three new images are uploaded to the Media Gallery, click on all three of them if they are not already highlighted in blue.

    media library
  5. Click the blue "Continue" button.

  6. Now we see a preview of our Gallery. Find the "Layout" menu on the right side of the preview and change it to Slideshow. You also have the option to make your slideshow randomly ordered by checking the box below.

    gallary layout
  7. Once you have found a layout you like, click the blue "Insert" button.

Page Attributes

When you are creating your site you have some control over which pages are top-level and which are children.

  1. Click on the "Page Attributes" button on the left in the Navigation Bar.

  2. You now have the option to toggle "Top Level" page on and off, as well as select the parent of the page you are editing.


Ready to Publish

When you are ready to Preview or Publish your page, the process is the same as for Blog Posts. Refer back to that section if you need help. (Hint: the Preview and Publish buttons are on the upper left side!)

Editing Existing Pages

In addition to adding new Pages, we can also edit existing ones. For practice, we will edit the Contact and Home Pages. Before we begin, find your way back to the Pages list.

Adding a Contact Form

Wordpress offers a handy built-in feature that allows you to easily place a contact form on any page. When a visitor fills in a contact form, the content of the form is sent via email to the admin address for the site. In this exercise, we’ll add a form to the Contact page.

  1. Click on "Contact" to take you to the editing layout for the Contact page.

  2. Click on the form section to highlight it and bring up the "Edit" and "Remove" options.

    contact page
  3. Click the "Edit" option to bring up the Editing window. You will see the four default Form Fields.

    edit options
  4. We can Edit or Remove these existing fields. Click the "Edit" button (the pencil) for the Name field on the far right.

  5. You can change the name of the Field by typing in the box for "Field Label". You can also choose whether the Field is required to submit the Form or not by checking the box next to "Required". We will explore "Field Type" in a moment.

    Click the "Edit" button again when you are done.

    field name
  6. Now let's try deleting a Field. Click "Remove Field" (the trashcan) next to the Website Field.

  7. Finally let's add our own field. Click the "Add New Field" button in the lower left.

  8. New Fields default to a Label and Type of "Text" and not required. Give your Field the Label "How's the site look?" and change the Type to "Radio Button". For the Radio Button options enter "Lame", "Decent", and "Awesome", making sure to press enter after each option.

    new fields
  9. Make it Required and click the blue "Update" button. This will update the contact form on our Contact page.

  10. Finally, click the blue "Update" button on the top left to Update the Contact page itself.

Editing Our Home Page

As the first thing visitors to the site will see, we want to make sure the Home Page looks nice. We'll do a little editing to help customize it for our site.

  1. Navigate to the Pages list again, and click on the Home Page to edit it.

  2. First, replace the default welcome text in the Editor with something a little more personalized.

  3. Next, click on Featured Image in the Navigation Bar. As you can see, the theme we chose (Motif) includes a default featured image.

  4. Click the "Edit" button (the pencil) in the lower right corner of the picture to choose another picture. This will open up the Media Gallery again.

  5. Click the blue "Add New" button and upload "header.jpg" from the class-files folder. When completed, click the blue "Set Featured Image" button in the lower right to replace the old image with our customized one.

  6. Finally, click the blue "Update" button in the top left to update our Home Page.

A new header and welcome message are a good start, but if you want some real control over how your site appears then jump into the next section of the manual.


In Wordpress, a theme is a collection of files that determine all the design aspects of your site. Your site's layout, colors and fonts are all controlled by your theme. New Wordpress sites automatically use a default theme supplied by Wordpress, but there are many free and paid themes to choose from.

Viewing the Current Theme

In this exercise we will find some information about our current theme.

  1. In the Navigation Bar on the left, find the "Themes" button in the "Personalize" section and click on it. We will check out the "Customize" option later, so leave that alone for now.

    navigation bar
  2. At the top of the page it shows the name of our current theme "Motif". On the far right side of the same bar, click on "Info" to get more information about the current theme.

  3. You should now be looking at a page with more details and a walk-through of your theme's layout.

    theme layout

From this page you have the option to open a live demo of the theme, as well as get support for more customization of the theme. When you are done reading about your theme click back to "All Themes".

Searching for a New Theme

If you would like to change to a different theme, WordPress makes it very easy and is able to transfer all your information to the new theme for you. Wordpress offers a wide variety of themes, with different layouts, colors, fonts and graphics. In this exercise, we'll explore the Wordpress theme offerings using the search filter.

  1. Below where it displays the name of the current theme (that we located in the previous exercise) there is a search bar. Find the drop-down menu on the right side of the search bar and choose to search either "Free", "Premium", or "All" themes.

    search bar
  2. You'll notice that it is now displaying and suggesting free themes (if you selected "Free" of course). Try putting in a particular search term, such as "art".

  3. Hover over a theme that looks interesting and click on the "Info" button to learn more about that theme.

  4. On the theme info page, click on "Open Live Demo" on the top right.

    live demo
  5. You now have the ability to click "Try & Customize" to preview the change, or "Activate This Design" to go ahead and apply the new theme.


For now, this manual will stick with the "Motif" theme, but again, you are welcome to choose any theme you like for your personal site.

Customizing Your Theme

You have some control over the look of your site even within a single theme. In this exercise we will learn how to customize our chosen theme.

  1. Navigate back to the themes page that we started from in the other exercises.

    In the top bar, next to the "Info" button we clicked earlier you will find the "Customize" button. Click it.

  2. You will now see your home page, with a new Customization Bar on the left side. "Custom Design" is part of the Premium package and allows you to choose fonts, color palettes, and customize CSS for your site. We will ignore this for now. Instead, click on "Site Identity".

    customization bar

    Give your site a new Title and Tagline to help build your personal brand. Click back to the Customization Bar when you are done (your changes will be preserved).

    title and tagline
  3. Click on "Colors & Backgrounds". Here you can choose a background color and color palette that you like for your site. Click back to the Customization Bar when you are done.

  4. Next, click on "Fonts". You can set the font for your headings, as well as your base font from this menu. Click back to the Customization Bar when you are done.

  5. Next is the "Header Image". WordPress provides a few default header options but allows you to upload your own as well. A file with dimensions 320 by 110 pixels is recommended, but not required. Click back to the Customization Bar when you are done.

  6. Click on "Menus" in the Customization Bar. You can choose "Menu Locations" to choose where the navigation menu appears. Below that we see the primary, default menu, named "Primary".


    Click on "Primary" to edit this menu. In this bar you can rename and reorder this menu, as well as choose the locations that it appears. You also have the option to automatically add new top-level pages to this menu, which is a convenient feature. Try dragging the order of the pages around like in this example (Blog was moved up to second in the menu). Click back to the Customization Bar when you are done.

    primary bar
  7. Next, click on "Widgets". You will be presented with a list of the places on your site where your chosen theme supports widgets. Widgets are small pieces of your site that WordPress implements for you, such as Text, Navigation, and Contact information.


    Click into the First Footer Sidebar for example. This is currently filled with a Contact Info widget, which we can edit, or delete and add another widget. Click back to the Customization Bar when you are done.

    contact information
  8. Clicking on "Static Front Page" allows you to modify the choices we made right when we first created our site with regards to what kind of landing page your site has. Change this setting if you like. Click back to the Customization Bar when you are done.

  9. The final customization option is "Testimonials" which allows you to set up how you want your Testimonials page to appear, if you choose to have one. Click back to the Customization Bar when you are done.

You also have the ability to directly customize aspects of your site by clicking the blue edit buttons in the live preview when you're in Customization view.


The "Configure" section of the Navigation Bar contains several sections to tweak the interactivity of your site, such as sharing capabilities, the people who have the access to your site, and some general site settings.


The Sharing tab takes you to the options to connect other social media sites to your website, which enables you to quickly and easily share your posts across the web.

  1. Click on the Sharing tab in the Navigation Bar.

    sharing tab
  2. The top portion of the "Connections" page allows you to publicize your posts on a variety of social media services. If you have an account you would like to attach to your site, click the corresponding blue "Connect" button on the right side of the page.

    connections page
  3. Click the "Sharing Buttons" tab at the top of the page next to "Connections".

    sharing buttons
  4. Click the "Edit label text" button and change the text to "Share Now:", then click close when you are done. You will be able to see the Preview update in real-time as you make changes. Click "Close" when you are done.

    edit label
  5. Click "Edit sharing buttons" below the Preview. You are able to choose which sharing buttons will be available by simply clicking them. They will then appear in the Preview. Choose to add "Print" and "LinkedIn" for now.

    edit sharing buttons
  6. Clicking the "Reorder" button toggles you back and forth between reordering and adding/removing buttons for sharing. Drag "Press This" for WordPress to the back of the order for now. Click "Close" when you are done.

  7. Clicking the "Add "More" button" allows you to hide certain sharing buttons behind a "More" button. This is useful for keeping your site cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing. You can also reorder these in the same manner as the other buttons. Hide "Reddit", "Tumblr", and "Pinterest" behind the "More" button for now. Click "Close" when you are done.

  8. You can also choose a "Button Style" for sharing on your site. Choose "Official Buttons" for the tutorial. When you are done be sure to click the blue "Save Changes" button to save all the sharing options we have selected.

    button style
  9. In the "Options" section lower on the page you can choose where to display the option to share your site. Choose to also include sharing on "Media". Be sure to click the blue "Save Changes" button when you are happy with the chosen Options.

    options bar

    You can also choose whether to include comment likes on all posts or not. By adding your Twitter username in the box you will be mentioned every time someone uses the Share via Twitter button on your site. This is useful for keeping track of the sharing of your site, as well as letting people identify you as the creator of the site, if that is something you want.


In the People tab you have the ability to add other users to your team so that they can post content and manage aspects of your site if you would like. This is a more advanced capability that would typically be used if you site grows quite large.


Plugins are optional pieces of software that help you keep a finger on the pulse of your site. Different levels of WordPress plans come with different plugins available. By default the free plan has them all enabled but you can choose which you like, or upgrade to gain access to more advanced options.


The free plan gives you a domain name that includes ".wordpress" but you have the option to upgrade plans which will remove it. You can also purchase additional domains that can redirect to your site from this menu. We won't worry about these options in this tutorial as we are focusing on the free version.


The Settings tab gives you very granular control of your website.

  1. In the General tab you can change your site's Title and Tagline (we already did this in a previous step, too). You can also change the language of your site, as well as the timezone. Change the timezone to your current timezone. Hit the blue "Save Settings" button when you are done.

    general tab

    Also in the General tab you can change the visibility of your site to users and search engines in the Privacy section.

    Finally, at the bottom of the page you have three options:

    • Change Site Address: this will allow you to choose a new domain name.

    • Start Over: This will allow you a fresh start on your site by deleting the content but preserving your site.

    • Delete Site: This is the nuclear option. Your site will be gone forever and cannot be restored. Use caution when deciding whether or not to use this option.

  2. In the Writing tab you can choose some aspects of how content created on your site, such as default post categories and formats. You can also add an option to "Press This" in your bookmarks bar. This will allow you to quickly and easily add content from another site to your own site. (Don't forget to click the blue "Save Settings" button when you are finished!)

    writing tab writing defaults
  3. The Discussion tab provides many options to structure and track comments on your posts and site. You can tailor your notifications to your liking here as well.

  4. Advanced data is available in the Analytics tab if you have the WordPress Business plan upgrade.

  5. On the SEO tab you can provide a short description of your site to display in search engine results and make it more likely for people to find your site. Save your Settings when you are finished!

    seo tab
  6. The Import tab provides a method of bringing content in from other sources to be part of your site. This can be very useful if you have another WordPress site that you would like to merge with yours. WordPress also offers options for other sources as well.

  7. The Export tab lets you transfer content from your site such as pages or posts to other locations. You have the option to choose to export your entire site or just specific types of content of your choosing.


Thank you for taking WordPress 1! You have now been given an overview of many of the most useful features of WordPress.com and can create your own blog and website through the WordPress platform. If you would like to fully utilize the power of Wordpress, you should take our classes on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. If you are interested in learning to host your own website with these skills, WordPress.org (https://wordpress.org/) is a widely used platform that you should check out. For one-on-one help with this process, we encourage you to set up an Ask-A-Trainer appointment with one of our specialists through our website (https://sts.doit.wisc.edu/)