Getting started with WordPress for DIY users

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system (CMS). A CMS is a tool you can use to create web pages, store images, organize navigation ( a.k.a. manage your content ), so that you can focus on the customer facing parts of your site. Using WordPress, a theme and perhaps a few plugins, you can build a complete website without needing to write all the code from scratch, or even knowing how to code at all.

Finding DIY Help for WordPress

This doesn’t mean there won’t be a learning curve. There are several steps to install and setup a WordPress website, including:

  • Setting up a self-hosted WordPress installation.
  • Installing a theme to give your site a design.
  • Installing & configuring plugins to add features to your site.

If you are new to WordPress, you can find a step-by-step guide to getting started in the WordPress Codex (external link). The WordPress Codex is the official guide to WP. It is a gigantic resource that is maintained by a combination of Automattic staff, volunteers and users.

DIY questions about WordPress

There are a variety of different DIY user forums on (external link) where you can submit questions about a variety of topics including:

  • Installing WordPress
  • Working with the media library
  • WordPress user roles
  • Setting permalinks
  • Backing up WordPress, and much more.
WordPress DIY user forums

Questions submitted to these forums are answered by volunteers. It’s a good idea to do a search first, to see if you can find the answer to your question before submitting. This helps the volunteers be able to answer questions as quickly as possible. Guide to submitting DIY questions to a WordPress forum (external link).

Finding Free Themes & Plugins for WordPress maintains a Repository (Directory) of themes and plugins. If you are looking for free themes and plugins, the WordPress Repo is a safe place to find them as they have all been thru the WordPress review process before they can be submitted and will be removed if they are not regularly updated.  

Finding DIY user forums for specific themes & plugins in the Repo

Every theme and plugin in the Repo has its own page that includes some documentation. At a minimum, you can find a description of how the theme or plugin works, installation instructions, screenshots and an FAQ section.  If these do not answer your question, another excellent feature of using themes and plugins from the Repo is that they also each have their own user support forum. From the plugin’s page in the Repo, click on ‘support’ to search on how to resolve an issue or submit your question to the plugin or theme author.

Chamber Dashboard Business Directory WordPress plugin Repo page

When submitting a question to the forum remember to include:

  • Details about the issue you are having
  • A link to the relevant page
  • The steps you took and what the actual vs. expected results were

This information will help get your question answered as quickly as possible.

Pro Tip

With over 50,000 themes and plugins available within the WordPress ecosystem, occasionally, there may be conflicts. The only way to find out if one of the themes or plugins you are using could be causing your issue is to test. Typically, the first question an author will ask is whether or not you have already tested for a conflict.
How to test for plugin conflicts.

Finding DIY plugin & theme documentation

If you are a DIY user, teaching yourself as you go to build a WordPress site, good for you! As you have probably discovered by now, there is a LOT to learn. If you have ventured into the world of premium (paid) themes and plugins you probably know, there are thousands of choices here as well. The good news is that any premium theme or plugin worth using will include documentation. Good documentation includes step-by-step instructions, screenshots and may even include video tutorials. Typically, a link to the documentation page is included with your plugin or theme download. You should be able to find documentation on the plugin’s website as well.

Some other places you may find links to documentation are:

  • In the purchase confirmation email
  • Within the theme or plugin zip file
  • On the website where you purchased the theme
  • On support page once plugin has been uploaded & activated on your site
  • In your WordPress Customizer once the theme has been installed & activated on your site

Getting help with a premium theme or plugin

Usually, the purchase process for a premium theme or plugin will involve setting up a user account. You can then login to access support. Logging in to the support page will give you access to additional documentation as well as the option to submit a request for email support. Don’t forget to bookmark the support page for easy reference!

It’s important to keep in mind that while the plugin theme or theme author will support their product, they may or may not offer broader support on how to use WordPress.

Are you a DIY user of Chamber Dashboard themes and plugins?

Here’s how to get support.